Are You Waiting for Success or Planning for Success?

Something to PonderLet me ask you a question…

Would you get in your car, drive a few hundred (or more) miles to Port Canaveral, and wait on the dock for a place on a random cruise ship? No reservations, no plans, no itinerary?

Seems asinine doesn’t it?

“Waiting For My Ship to Come In…”

I can’t stand that expression — mainly because I used to use it all the time.

So many people spend their lives waiting for something to happen. It rarely does.

When I started my first freelance design company (about 15 years ago), I wasted a lot of time waiting for my ship, and not enough time making something happen.

Are you waiting for success to happen like I was? Hoping a client will come knocking at your door, or a gig will fall into your lap?

The only way it will happen is if you set the process in motion. Plan for success and take action:

  • Make reservations (your goals),
  • Outline an itinerary (your actions), and
  • Guarantee a place on your ship (your success).

It’s amazing the good fortune and exciting work that comes your way once you start the ball rolling.

Waiting for your ship to come in is a waste of time.

That is unless the ship you happen to be waiting for is the yacht that you own — and you’re waiting for your crew to pick you up for your big trip.

In that case, it’s well worth the wait :).


  1. I think this is a problem a lot of people face without even realizing. It isn’t something they teach you as a kid, maybe you have to learn it for yourself, but for the first 22 years of my life I expected success to happen to me.

    After I graduated college and entered the real world I realized in a hurry that without action on my part I’d never have the life I want. The biggest obstacle is getting over the fear uncertainty. The easiest excuse for not doing anything is, “I don’t know what do.” People don’t understand that no one knows what to do at first, you have to learn as you go along.

  2. So true! When I started my first company I often forgot this or just thought that I couldn’t set such high goals or … Well, all kinds of excuses.

    Now that I’m working on my second business (with partners this time, helps a lot ;-)) we’re really heading somewhere. We know when we want to have a prototype, what we’re going to do with it, etc.

    This is *really* something people (including myself sometimes…) should remember!

  3. So very, very true! (Coincidentally I wrote a post today on a similar topic.) Anyway, in business, the best defense is a good offense. Also, the best offense is a good offense. No matter how you look at it, activity creates opportunity.

  4. Excellent post, Tony!

    Tipping the hat to what John said, this is exactly why business concepts should be covered more on a pre-college level in our educational system.

    People are going off to college thinking that their boarding pass to the ship is their college degree, when any adult in today’s society knows that the degree is only one possible step to success – and not a guaranteed step at that!

    – Aaron

  5. Peter – Thanks!

    John – Excellent point. Most of us have to learn it the hard way. The earlier we learn that we make our own luck and success, the better.

    Martijn – It’s amazing how the simple act of setting milestones can impact your entire business. And you’re right, having partners can help.

    Brad – Great way to put it. Taking action is better then doing nothing. Taking conscious action is even better. Taking conscious action with deliberate intent, will almost guarantee success.

    Aaron – It’s unfortunate that our educational system still seems to be set up to churn out cogs for the factory. It could do for an overhaul. Most businesses today are looking for innovative thinkers, and our education system does it’s best to cull them. But that’s a whole blog unto itself!

  6. Planning can be a pain in the butt, it is better than failure, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.You have matured as a business pro when you enjoy your planning because they make you money.

  7. Tony,
    This is brilliant. For one book I’m working on I put the note cards of each “person” I’m describing in the book and taped them onto a picture in my office. Each note card is a chapter in the book.

    And it gets me so excited everyday. Because I’m constantly thinking about the book. I solicit everyone’s ideas. And the book is writing itself. But of course, I’m crazy and talk out loud to myself.

  8. Shane – Gotta look out for the paparazzi, man 🙂 !

    Joseph – Glad you enjoyed it.

    JD – That’s very true. It’s better to struggle in the planning phase, then right in the middle of your daily operations.

    Ev – That’s a perfect example of how knowing where you’re going drives you forward.

  9. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I try to do this in every area of my life-run it like a business. That doesn’t mean that great things don’t happen without a plan, but it does make a difference.

  10. Nice bit of advice there and good use of analogies too! Sometimes we get too caught up in the rat race and running on treadmills that we fail to plan beyond the next day. Now, if only I can find a way to get off this sinking ship first before hopping onto a faster boat…

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