We’ve had a lot of snow in the Syracuse area over the past week, and there’s a lot more coming, it seems. Because I don’t own a snow blower and didn’t sign up for snow removal services, this means I’ve been outside a lot shoveling snow out of the driveway. It’s a tough proposition sometimes, but I know it’s something that has to be done.

I’m not one of those people who just gets outside and starts shoveling anywhere. I tend to have a plan for how I shovel. That might seem strange to some, but I have reasons for the plan. One, I want to make sure I push the snow banks far enough back so if we needed to get both cars out of the garage it would be easy to do. Two, I want to try to use to my advantage the reality that the county snow plows will be coming through and burying the end of the driveway. And three, I want to work in a way that I’ll notice how the mass it dwindling, which means I’ll be inspired by my progress.

The first step is to make a lane that gets me from the house to the street. That also allows me to establish one of the boundaries of the driveway, because I’m checking it as I go. Then I tackle the end of the driveway, where the heaviest snow is. I do that early because I don’t want my back to be too tired when it’s time to get to the heavy stuff; that’s what causes more back injuries than anything else. Instead of lifting it, though, I push it, in small bits, and I push it to the other side of the driveway, but into the street. I also make sure to push it to the opposite side of where the snow plow will start, trying to reduce the amount of snow that might end up at the end of the driveway the next time the truck comes. After that I go about my business, my pattern as such.

When all is said and done, my driveway looks pretty good. By sticking to the plan, I had an idea of what it was going to look like and it worked out just fine. Of course there are some things I could fine tune if I really needed to, but at least the project is done and I have my sense of accomplishment.

I run into so many people who say they don’t like to plan anything. They just want to go at it and see what happens. Yet those are the people who end up quitting too soon more often than others because they don’t see results from all their work. In my mind, it’s hard to see results, or at least progress, if you go into something without trying to recognize what it all might entail. If I have a plan for how I need to put together a 10-page report I have a better chance at succeeding than if I just research a topic and start writing what I’ve learned. By planning, not only will I know how much material I need to get to 10 pages, I also know the order I want to present the material in.

No matter what you do, I believe formulating your plan first will help you see it through to a satisfactory conclusion. And every time you succeed at something, you want to do it again. You should do this for yourself, and if you work with others you should help them do it as well. That’s how real progress is achieved.