Planning Your Way Out of the No-Plan Cycle

What's the No-Plan Cycle? How can you avoid falling into its trap? And most importantly, if you've already fallen down the proverbial rabbit hole—how do you get back out?


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Life is ironic in ways like this: in writing this article about the No-Plan Cycle, I unintentionally method acted (wrote?) my way through the No-Plan Cycle itself, just in case my years as a writer (and unwilling procrastinator) hadn’t already provided me with the experience necessary to write authoritatively on the subject (they did).


Despite the frustration, the exercise in irony did serve a grander purpose: it made sure the No-Plan Cycle was as fresh in my mind, and as realistic, as possible as I wrote about it.


But this little intro is worthless if you aren’t aware of what the No-Plan Cycle is, so allow me to introduce you (and only at three paragraphs in, no less. Not bad):


The No-Plan Cycle is the terror of every course developer ever. Okay, a little too existential of an explanation, got it. Here’s a more traditional explainer: the No-Plan Cycle is the series of unfortunate events that unfold when you set out to create the course of your dreams, and don’t have a plan in place. The steps are as follows:


Step 1: An Optimistic Start


Ah, the fleeting goodwill that accompanies the beginning of every project. The potential it has! For: money, fame, advancement, improvement, insert the accomplishment of your personal goals here, etc. For me, I was optimistic about accomplishing the most important thing an employee (and writer) can do: meet their deadline.


The problem with this, of course, is the fleeting part. The ultimate optimism killer? A lack of a plan. And so the cycle begins.