Do you plan forward or backward?

Do you plan forward or backward? - A picture of a cup of coffee with a spoon. Photo source: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/106/288031832_27e91176a0.jpg?v=0 .
Singapore
November 11, 2007 2:28pm CST
This is long but please bear with me. I think it will be interesting for you! Otherwise, just skip to the topic question. :P I think there is a planner in all of us. Some of us are very meticulous - taking pride in our to-do lists and weekly calendars. Some of us plan in an abstract manner - placing milestones in fuzzy areas that are thankfully still adequately discernible on our own mind-maps. The rest of us claim to be lazy slobs - but the truth is we do still plan... we plan not to plan. :P For those in the first two categories who plan more "explicitly", do you plan forward or backward? Planning styles are all unique with their own native flavors. But hey, I think we can separate them into two broad categories - forward and backward. By "forward planning", you employ something akin to greedy algorithm as your tool. For those not familiar with greedy algorithm, Wikepedia defines it as "any algorithm that follows the problem solving metaheuristic of making the locally optimum choice at each stage with the hope of finding the global optimum". Simply put, if you plan using greedy algorithm, you base your decisions on the available information you have. In this mode, your goals (if any) are fuzzy. You may know roughly what you want (like the BEST job, the BEST spouse, the BEST house, the BEST blah blah) but what information you have (like what jobs are available in your area, who among your colleagues best matches your idea of the perfect mate, which house looks the nicest in your neighborhood blah blah) determines what you do next. By "backward planning", you depend primarily on your goals. You have VERY specific goals fixed on your mind. For instance, you want to be the Chief Financial Officer at XYZ bank. You want a spouse who has a face shaped like an apple (one of my uncles assured me that apple-faced girls make the best mates). You want that penthouse at UVW condo. From these specific goals, you work backward to decide how you can achieve them. In the forward planning mode, you just know you want a condo. You will look at your current situation and just try to make as much money as you can - so that you can get a unit at any condo. However in the backward planning mode, you know you want that unit (and the penthouse one no less) at that particular condo so you try to figure out how to get it - like hiring a Private Investigator to probe how the existing owner will sell you his unit at a price you can afford. See the main difference between these two planning modes? One tries to reach forward to relatively vague goals from the current situation. The other tries to juxtapose specific goals with the current situation by bringing them towards you. I would say neither mode is superior to the other. It's just a matter of perspective and either would work as well. But hey, I am curious. So do you plan forward or backward? Or not at all? =)
5 people like this
17 responses
• United States
12 Nov 07
Hi Lord, As neat and as organized as I am, I dont plan at all. I try. It just never works out like I plan it too. So therefore I just wing it. I do know people who carry a day planner and have everything in the day planned down to the minute. That seems up tight to me, Im not really an uptight person. I can be. But for the most part, Im pretty laid back. So I just make mental notes, do my best and pray that it turns out remotely how I would like it too. Bay Lay Gray xx
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
You remind me of one who has a charmed life... lucky you! :P
2 people like this
• United States
12 Nov 07
Really?? Hmmm I guess I just havent made it to the party yet then! I dont feel too charmed and I dont feel too lucky! hehe Bay xx
3 people like this
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
I know what you mean. :P
1 person likes this
@raychill (6530)
• United States
11 Nov 07
First, I pretty much read all of that. Secondly, can I be in the middle? I don't think that I necessarily forward plan. There are some goals I'm specific about, but they're usually small goals. Whereas other goals I'm super fuzzy about. At the same time, my goals that I am specific about aren't too specific. But they're more specific than my fuzzy goals. So, anyway... I wouldn't think I am either. But I guess if I had to pick one, I'd probably say that I'm more a forward planner. I really just like to go with the flow. Where ever things take me is where I will go.
4 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
Geez, thanks for reading, I really appreciate that. You are one of the few intellectual ones here then. :P And at least you plan so that's way good already. By making your goals of manageable sizes, I think you have a good planning style there. =)
3 people like this
@raychill (6530)
• United States
13 Nov 07
Awesome. I'm glad I've found someone who thinks I'm intelligent :)
2 people like this
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Geez, have more faith in yourself! :P
1 person likes this
@jwfarrimond (4474)
12 Nov 07
I usually do forward planning, but if I do have a specific goal in mind, I'll do backward planning, deciding what I want to do, working out in general terms how to go about getting it, and then using forward planning for the day to day "navigation"
3 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
Hybrid mode, eh? Not bad!:P
1 person likes this
12 Nov 07
Works for me :)
2 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
=)
1 person likes this
• United States
12 Nov 07
Personally, I don't do much planning either, I'm more like BaleighGray in that regard. I take my life pretty much one day at a time. In the area of daily planning, I think I am more of a forward planner (if I duplicated what I read clearly!) Before I get out of bed I go over the mental list of things I want to accomplish that day... add at least 3 blocks to the garden wall in progress... finish laying the sub-flooring in guest room... do a load of towels, whatever, as long as it's not more than I feel I can do without sacrificing my leisure. I also have some long-term goals. But I prefer to attract them to me rather than figuring out a route to them, so in that case, I think I am a backward planner. So, basically I do a little bit of 'come what may', a little bit of forward planning, a little bit of backward planning, and a lot of lateral thinking! I think it's a good idea to be a well-rounded person.
3 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
br - You are in the running for best response!
Let me guess... you zigzag your way through life? :P Thanks for sharing! =)
2 people like this
• United States
12 Nov 07
How funny! That's exactly what I do.
2 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
*wink*
2 people like this
@academic2 (7009)
• Uganda
12 Nov 07
I plan forward, backward, right and left and strategically.Otherwise, thaks a lot for this elaborate and highly academic discussion-I guess mylotters have a lot to learn from this post!
3 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
WOW, you are such a... PASSIONATE planner! :P
3 people like this
• Philippines
12 Nov 07
Wow, this is pretty interesting. But I guess I'm more of a forward planner. I have pretty vague goals, though, so I'm really not much of a planner. Like I know I want a good job, a good house, and all that stuff, but I just base my decisions on what I have right now. I'm not the type who wants something really specific and does everything to get it. But I kind of envy those who are like that because they're so focused on their goals and they know what they really want, and I kind of want to be like that.
3 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
If you were to consider putting more energy into achieving those goals (even if they are somewhat vague), I think you will succeed even sooner! =)
3 people like this
@jennybianca (12913)
• Australia
12 Nov 07
This made me think. I normally am a very organised person who has a weekly list, a monthly list, etc. I tick jobs I have done & cross those that weren't. In the terms you have described, I would say I am a backward planner. Odd really, as those terms to me don't imply how I plan. I do have specific goals, or have had as the case may be. In my first forty years of life I reached my goals.I wouldn't say all my goals are being reached now, despite my backward planning.
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
I hope you don't think "backward" means outdated. Darn.. maybe I should have chosen a better term. :P
3 people like this
@GardenGerty (115043)
• United States
11 Nov 07
I think it took me a long time to learn to plan at all or to value planning. I still do not do it enough. I think I am more the forward planner than the backward planner, though. I want a nicer car, I see a nicer car, I see about obtaining it. Rather than I want a brand new car, which one is the best? Oh, yeah, I want such and such a car, to afford it, I will need to earn this much, so to reach my goal, I must first reach this financial goal. I think forward planning is more impulsive, and that is more like me.
• Singapore
11 Nov 07
Whatever works for you, my friend. But at least you plan which is way better than me. Way to go. =)
2 people like this
• United States
12 Nov 07
At m age any planning I do is forward planning, because I have limited time and resources now so I have to take my best shot as the saying goes. In any type of planning either forward or backward you are restricted by the amount of money you have to carry your plans out. Since money has never been a priority for me I just take things as they come and try to make the best of it. Would I like to have more money, sure I would, but I am not going to work 23 hours out of 24 to get it. There was a time when I was working three separate jobs and that was just to much. I almost sacrificed my health to the chase for more money. Fortunately I learned from that and take things a lot more laid back now. So my best answer is forward planning within my monetary abilities.
2 people like this
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
I read something somewhere - you have 3 main resources at your command - money, time and energy. So since you feel that you are lacking in the former 2, try shoving more energy in the direction of your goals. =) Or finding ways to do things better. ^^
2 people like this
@ctrymuziklvr (11059)
• United States
12 Nov 07
I'm not much of a planner. It seems any time I do make plans they fall through or just don't work out so I just gave up!
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
Ha! :P
@webeishere (36353)
• United States
12 Nov 07
The biggest plans I make are what to eat for dinner. HAHAHA!! HAPPY POSTINGS FROM GRANDPA BOB !!~
1 person likes this
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Oh yea.. it's of paramount importance. :P
@charms88 (7540)
• Philippines
12 Nov 07
I am not sure which way I should categorized myself baby. It's quite normal for us to plan on the "best" of everything but realistically speaking, the very best will not always be as easy as we like to plan it. I can say that I'm more of a backward planner though. If I set myself to own something, then I will diligently plan on how to get it without compromising anyone. I really don't plan on big things baby. I prefer to lay out my plan as simply as possible or something that I know can be easily attained. And lastly, what about a carrot-faced baby? Will it make a perfect mate or be anyone's best friend? "grin"
• Singapore
12 Nov 07
Well, replace the word "BEST" with vague. That would convey the meaning I wanted to express. :P I don't know about carrot faces. I remember Joey saying walking carrots are scary so I am not sure about human carrots.:PP
@charms88 (7540)
• Philippines
13 Nov 07
lol...but we have to admit that we always like to plan for what's the "best" for our future. I am just saying that whether you plan on something big or small, there will always some obstacles to go through. Based on my own experiences, I learned to stop planning forward. I would rather take everything in stride. And oh yea...a walking carrot huh...hmmm...who knows, I might appeared as one when I became a ghost, lol! A carrot mooch for you baby. =)
1 person likes this
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Of course.
@FireHorse (294)
• United States
15 Nov 07
I think those of us that do plan tend towards the forward method but use both. Although I think the backward method is more specific and beneficial. I would like to be a backward planner but most of the time I'll admit I use the forward method. I think it's just as important to actually impliment those plans! My nature is to make many plans and start many tasks and projects at the same time. I make lists with a dozen things to do and wind up completing only 3 or 4 items on my list but I consider that a success because I've had to learn to concentrate on the priority items and let the other items roll over to the next "to do" list. If a low priority item isn't completed in the long term, it wasn't all the great of a priority anyway.
1 person likes this
• Singapore
16 Nov 07
You are very right. Usually we just thinkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk about then. That's it. :P
@carolscash (9500)
• United States
15 Nov 07
I am a forward planner. I do like to make plans but they are never detailed until the last few minutes. I know that I want to have a house of my own but I am not sure that it is the one that we are buying now as I really don't like it. Recently, I had to buy a car and I had a hard time deciding what I wanted. I knew I wanted a car but that is all I knew.
1 person likes this
• Singapore
15 Nov 07
Good luck! =)
• India
15 Nov 07
Really i have not read the entire topic, sorry lordwarwizard. In regards to planning.. i just forecast the ifs and buts of all the future outcomes and try to stick on to the one which i think will give the best result. I have been adopting this in making analysis of my buying or selling the shares, and even in the personal life. Thank you friend.
1 person likes this
• Singapore
15 Nov 07
Sounds like the greedy algo. =)
@xParanoiax (6997)
• United States
13 Nov 07
Lol, sorry. I plan 'randomly'. And it's always been quite efficient enough for me. My memory's much like that as well. Categorized by importance and significance, rather than linearly by date. And I'm always planning, in the back of my head. Planning backwards sounds like a fun thing to try though. *looks above* My way sounds odd, I think lol..but that's me. Odd.
1 person likes this
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Nah, random planning is just cool. ^^
• India
13 Nov 07
Hey there buddy, nice question over there. I never knew about these styles of planning, but as I think of it I am a bit of both, I mean I plan both the ways. Like I have these vague goals of being able enough to provide my Love with anything she wants and then also be able enough to move around and find a job wherever I wish. Then there a re specific goals as well, like getting atleast an 86% in my exams this semester, or like getting a bike, a cruiser bvike. I do have a goal of making my girlfriends parents like me and our relation. There a lot of things in my life which I strive for and plan for but most of them are linked to my love. As you can yourself see how I incorporate both the styles of planning in my attitude and life. Any ways Take Care May GOD Bless YOU
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Oh I just made them up lol. :P Take care and God bless you too! =)
• Kuwait
12 Nov 07
Well for me when the planning is effective and hope to have good result whether it is forward or backward. as of now i dont have plan of backward all are forward and for good, i hope to be successful in my plan.
• Singapore
13 Nov 07
Wishing you success then! =)