Planning with Purpose

Christopher Davis
15 min readJan 4, 2022

It is January 4, so if you have not already made your New Year’s Resolutions, you are already behind. I have put together some notes on planning with a focus on purpose. Goals whether they are New Year’s Resolutions or anytime are more likely to be realized when there is purpose behind them. This story provides a process and resources for articulating your purpose including goal setting, motivation, and values.

Photo by Anastasia Petrova on Unsplash


Planning involves envisioning a desired future state and identifying the steps needed to get there.

I like to think of planning as navigation. We identify where we are going and how to get there.

Navigation helps explain the differences in approaches to planning.

Conventional planning is like traditional Western navigation. European navigators identified a destination and laid in a course to get there. The journey was about staying on that course, and if something happens, you get back on course.

Agile planning is akin to South Pacific navigators who practiced wayfinding. While these navigators had their destination in mind, they focused on what was the best action to take at any given time to move us towards our destination.

The problem with conventional planning is that at the start of the journey we make many assumptions about what steps we will need to take and what obstacles we must overcome. Often our assumptions turn out to not be correct, yet we still hang onto the course we established. The most famous example of this was Christopher Columbus who laid out a course for India, not aware that there was a whole continent in his way. It was not until his third voyage that Columbus began to realize that he had found a new continent and not a new path to Asia.

Our planned route may not achieve our desired goals for a variety of reasons. One in five new businesses will not survive more than two years. Three out of four businesses will not make it to 15 years. The reasons for this are many. Some ideas were not that good to start. Other ideas were good but undone by events beyond the owners control. Only 60% of students who start college will finish with a degree within 6 years. Having goals and a plan are not sufficient.

Christopher Davis

#HigherEd revolutionary with over twenty years experience in higher ed teaching and administration. Opinions and positions are my own.