The seven P's and where we go wrong

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Five years ago I was living on my own in Southern California, working at my community college while attending courses and trying to become a famous musician.

My five-year plan was to record as much music as I could at school in our commercial music program, play small shows with my band, and use the internet to make it big. But before you could say 'famous', my band broke up, I realized that I couldn't support myself, and in June of 2011 I moved cross country to North Carolina.

So obviously that plan didn't turn out.

I laugh at that plan now. But remembering my old plans makes me think about current plans. When I review my last performance feedback and read what I want to achieve in my life now -- in the immediate, short, and long term, I wonder how much will actually happen, and what I will laugh at in five years.

I remember something my father told me the Marine Corps taught him: proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance, or the "seven P's" for short.

Planning can sometimes give me a small panic attack. There's something about trying to decide what I want to do, or who I want to be that is solidifying and makes me feel like I'm sinking. Don't get me wrong, I know that having some semblance of a plan is necessary. But as you can see, my plan from just five years ago took a sharp left before it even left the gate.

I don't miss my old plan, that's not a problem because I love where I am now. I have a job I love, working for supervisors and officers I know will jump through fire for me; I am very happily married to a wonderful woman who I know loves me; I have two adorable fur babies that keep me on my toes; I don't love how I got here, but I love being here and being here now.

My five-year plan is almost constantly fluctuating and changing. One day it says to stay enlisted; the next it says earn a commission. Sometimes my plan is to stay in public affairs for my entire career, other times my plan is to get out and work as a sports journalist.

Here's where the crux of the problem is though: if I spend every day planning out and dreaming the next five years of my life, I'm not going to live for today.

But if I don't experience life today, then in five years I'll wake up one day and wonder, "What happened to my life?"

How do I plan for tomorrow, while still living for today?

I'm honestly asking, because I have no idea.

I think though, it comes down to those dang seven P's my father repeated on a weekly basis into my head as a child.

Let's take a look at what each P means and how we can apply it to our lives.

Proper: Adjective meaning appropriate or correct, needed, fulfilling all expectations or criteria. Are we, am I, planning properly? Are my dreams and goals realistic? Or am I pipe dreaming?

Prior: Adjective meaning earlier or more important. Am I planning for big life events? Or am I planning to buy a truck instead of paying off debts?

Planning: A noun meaning a system for achieving objectives. Do I have my goals even set out? Have I, have we thought about where and what we actually want to be?

Prevents: A verb meaning to stop something from happening, or to stop somebody from doing something. What prevents our dreams and goals from being achieved? What is preventing us from making goals? What will stand in our way on our road?

Piss: A noun meaning ... let's go with bad. What are the bad things in our lives that will affect our goals? What bad things will happen if or when we fail? Am I making bad plans?

Poor: An adjective meaning not rich, affected by poverty, inferior, lacking skill, low or inadequate, or weak. What in our lives makes us weak? What will cause us to put out an inadequate product?

Performance: A noun meaning an artistic presentation. What will your presentation be? What art will your life create? How will your dreams and goals beautify the world?

Each of the seven P's has a place in our lives, and in our plans. While I may not fully comprehend knowing how to plan for tomorrow while living for today, if I can incorporate the seven P's into my decision making process, my chances for success should be greatly improved.