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Monday, 13 January 2014

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail - really?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Pause and reflect whether this saying makes sense to your life presently in the here and now - suspend for a moment what you think is the correct "textbook" answer, or what you think others expect you to answer. 

No one understands your life better than you! Unless you have the habit of telling little lies to yourself...

Now make a wild guess whether this saying applies to successful entrepreneurs (they built the business), business owners (can inherit or marry into one), and great investors or traders.

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, who do you think were his customers for Management by Objectives? 

I don't think it was management.

Land owners and puppet masters, oh boy! Do they love to use the above saying to "carrot and stick" their minions or what!?

How about children? Did they grow up the way you have "planned"? 

Now turn the tables. Are you living your own life now, or that your parents have "planned"?
Same for marriage. Is that divorce or blissful life together "planned"?

Just to be sure, I am not against planning. It's a wonderful tool! Although I think some are mistaking it as the solution.

With more free time, I am mind-fxxxing myself silly. Questioning this, poking that.
All this planning stuffs (which includes goals, KPIs, etc), how does that gel with:

1) The Abrahamic spirituality of "submitting to thy will"?

2) The Taoist idea of 无为 (no control)?

3) The Buddhist idea of 随緣 (act accordingly)? 



  1. use viualisation (and immagination) towards your goal, not planning. meaning immagin yourself already attended your goal or dream and work yourself backward and forward.

    don't wait to enjoy success when success comes, it will not last, enjoy the success even before it arrived!

    1. especially in trading, you have to be a winner even before you start or put in your trades.

    2. remember jack nickela's "i never missed a putt"?

      i guarantee he missed more putts than i do (in numbers), does it matters?

    3. coconut,

      I hear you.

      Before, I was totally random. The "plan the trade, and trade the plan" came soon after.

      If that's the solution, why aren't more traders profitable?

      Ah! There's a secret sauce! The man in the mirror.

      It's ironic isn't it?

    4. yes, to plan a trade is like the very beginning of trading, the first step. i remember when i first get into trading coffee futures, becos of the volatility of the price swing, i already know how to trade it with a plan, cos without it, i'll be going home quick. with a solid plan, it last about a few months haha.

      but to be consistently profitable, you got to have a solid strategy with rediculars risk control, that will gives you an edge in the long run.

      smol, i'm not proud with my profit but i'm very satisfy the way i control my drawdown. gives and take.

    5. why 65 trades a day? (actually the number on average is lower than 65 per day) becos i'm making a killing? think again!

      thats becos majority of trades are for risk control in the expense of profit and commissions.

    6. coconut,

      There were times I was very happy with my ability to cut my positions without hesitation or considering my entry prices (what has that got to do with anything? The market does not care).

      And there were times I've made good money but I wasn't too please with myself... It was pure dumb luck.... I should not have entered thee trades in the first place after reviewing the trades again!

    7. ya i hear you. i have same feeling.

      now i know the majority of my winnings are likely to comes from either unexpected events or unexpected price swing in ridiculars moves. sometimes i just scartch my head while putting the money in my pocket haha.

    8. the liongold trades gives a perfact example of what i mean, it blow my mind (actually not really la haha) when i close my trades.

  2. When you are answerable to Nobody except yourself, planning is unnecessary.

    Nobody will point their fingers at you!

    1. true but to fulfill your dreams, you have to do it yourself, pointing your finger at yourself. it has to be yourself and not someone else.

    2. CW,

      Trust you to understand my ramblings ;)

      Entrepreneurs and business owners don't use "fail to plan" admonishments on themselves. Their success (or failure) is based more on how they RESPOND to change - be it opportunities or threats.

      Same for great investors and traders. They have their investment thesis and trading plans; but how they REACT when they were wrong and especially when they were right, I guess it what separate them from the rest of us.

      A lot of ideas and thoughts were planted into us by land owners and puppet masters (media, education, society, etc).

      Perhaps that why we see a lot of goals and resolutions are in similar "format" in blogosphere (that includes mine)?

      Are my plans the result of my own independent free will? Or were they seeds planted into my subconscious that I am even not aware of?

      I guess recognising there are strings over my head is a start...

    3. Okay.

      Don't plan but be prepared.


  3. Hi SMOL, you tug my strings, it is what is on my mind!! Pardon me long reply.

    Overplanning kill success.

    Planning, Doing, reviewing and Doing it better.

    Which stage do you think should take the most time and resources.

    For me, is 3 and 4, follow by 2 and 1. relatively, I mean, doesn't it has to be a sloppy planning.

    What my bosses are doing.

    Strategy thinking, documenting, planning, documenting, doing, documenting, reviewing, documenting, re-do, documenting

    Nope strategy thinking is not planning, is big picture thinking, you see.

    They do documenting zealously, well you see, that is the most frequent process.

    They resources and time spent get lesser at the process go.. No wonder, some didn't even survive doing.

    My own interpretation of over-doing the above process

    Over Strategy thinking = Talking C@***

    Over Planning = Day dreaming

    Over documentation = Wayang for bosses

    All three together= recipe for failure, starting with human resources

    1. sillyinvestor,

      Don't talk to me about long replies; just look at my comments! LOL!

      I saw your "letting of steam" post ;)

      Your "bosses" have climbed all the way up there not without some "enlightenment":

      1) Do more; odds of making mistake increases.

      2) Focus on professional "formatting" is easier than reviewing content; least others found out you don't understand the content!

      3) Looking busy is not easy; it takes years of practice to perfect. How else to explain the promotion in meritocratic Singapore? You think everyone can win Oscar?

      4) Documentation is so you can pin the blame on others when things go wrong; and take the credit when others got it right. Who is taking the minutes?

      Having said that, not all career managers are like that. I was fortunate enough to work with entrepreneur managers in MNC and with owner managers in family owned SMEs.

      They taught me a lot on the differences between a leader and manager non-textbook style.

  4. Hi SMOL

    Same sentiments :)

    It is good that we question the " system" if it is not efficient and productive .

    Sometimes complex issues could be solve with simple solution , just that all these bull sh*t system came in making issues more complex/ loop holes .


    1. Small-Time,

      Let's come together and sing:

      We are the world

      We are the children

      We are ones who make a brighter day

      So let's start giving

      Don't know why; just feel like singing this chorus!

    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMMF3bKb4Lo

    3. Ah! The banana song! One of my favourites too.

      May our boats be filled with bountiful bananas!

  5. Hi SMOL,

    Refreshing breath of fresh air :)

    Planning is a great tool, as you've said. Not planning and letting your instincts take over is also a great tool. I think it takes wisdom to know when to use which in the situations you face.

    I always say that I should plan less and use my instincts more. But that applies to me only. My wife is a person who acts at the moment, and very spontaneous. My advice for her is to try planning things a little more :) You can see that she is super great at interviews because she can think on her feet, but if you ask her to write an essay or even a blog post, she'll lose interest and falter. I'm the complete opposite; sucky at spontaneous conversation but pretty good at writing and doing things for a very long time. I think we all need to learn from each other.

    You just can't be spontaneous for very long period of time (you'll run out of inspirations!) and you can't be planning for every second of your life (you'll run out brain power to compute the infinite possibilities that you can't act).

    If failing to plan is really planning to fail, then how about making a plan to fail, so that you can fail to make the plan fail LOL

    1. LP,

      Witty as ever ;)

      Stop! I am already envious of the man with the little girl (PZ); now you are making me jealous of your married life :(

      You and your wife good match. Opposites good!

      I see you both have "invaded" my Southern Ridges home turf. Come to think of it, I've never been to Bedok reservoir. I think I'll do that on your home turf ;)

      Tick for tack.

  6. Hi SMOL,

    HAHA! Sorry, didn't know southern ridges belong to your territory...I should have smelt the pee on the trees before I go invading LOL!

    Bedok Reservoir got so many suicides, I also don't go there myself! :o

    1. Go to Bedok Jetty to chat with weekdays fishing uncles.

    2. CW,

      I'll check them out.

      Amazing! 46 years as Singaporean and there are many places in Singapore I've never explored!?

    3. believe me or not, bedok jetty is where i cought my big fish. a 1-2 feet long grouper!

      it was also my one and only fish i caught in my entire life fishing haha.

    4. yes, i do believe in beginner luck!

      this is one example, another is when i started buying 4D, the very first time i went to genting casino i won like almost a thousand, my first stock trading, yes i make a little, my first futures account, yes i make before i give it back, my marriage too, my driving test, wow haha. count no finish.

  7. Ants and Grasshopper?

    See what happen when one fails to plan.

    1. CW,

      The grasshopper is not "designed" to live beyond winter. His destiny is live, play and die. To enjoyed the 4 seasons - albeit once.

      The ant has planned, set goals, and survived many winters. On his dying bed, the ant realised he never really enjoyed the changing seasons - all he knew was work, and planning for more work during winter.

      Upon his last breath, he finally woke up to the fact he all along was part of the grand plan of the Queen Ant.... live, work, die....

      Well, if anyone wants to be ant, at least be the Queen Ant. Is that why there is so much kiasuism, so much stress, and so much angst in Singapore?

      But how can EVERY and ANY ant be the Queen?

      The snake oil salesman comes with his spin: "If you think you can; you can!"

      After cheerleading the colony with motivational zeal, he collects payment from the Queen.

  8. SMOL sir,

    I love mind-f**k posts like these - philosophy is one of my interests as I get older... I am not as competitive as before, so I need something to 'excuse' myself.

    I think successful people always have a plan. And plan B. And C. And so on. Like a Chess grandmaster's mind. Does that mean the successful guy already planned to fail 99% of the time? (i.e. Only 1 will succeed, right?) I think he is just using planning as a tool. Just as much as sailing where the wind blows.

    I, on the other hand, am living under planned life. Insurance plan, marriage plan, retirement plan, birth plan. Heck I even have death plan - cremation, wills, etc... am I planning to fail?

    1. ckw,

      Please, no sir me. Just call me SMOL or Jared. We keep it casual and informal at this watering hole ;)

      Some journey to escape - and I guess something to "excuse" will fall under here?

      Some journey to achieve - "success" or "failure" are merely by products (milestones) of this action. They don't determine whether we stop or move on. Think Thomas Edison - he got only 3 months of official schooling; and that didn't stopped him.

      Some journey for no particular reason - Why are we here? What's the purpose of life? Are we so different from plants and other animals? Are we the only ones with a soul?

      I've no clue what the answers are; I still breathe one breath at a time.

      P.S. You may want to interview or find out whether successful people have plan B, C up in their sleeves. Don't think; verify ;)

      I was fortunate to work for one of the riches man in the world using management by stumbling along.

      I also worked for a family owned SME that survived 97 but felled during the boom days of post 2003...

      I would be super rich investing if not for - today's winner may become tomorrow's loser. And today's loser may become tomorrow's winner.


    2. Do you mean you did hold a multi-bagger to zero-bagger?

      What stock?

    3. CW,

      I did let quite a lot of profitable positions turned into losses during the early days :(

      Why you want to remind me of Jurong Tech?

      Hence the catalyst for my journey into the realm of money management ;)

      My last statement was more a reflection that similar to our careers and the life cycle of companies I've worked for, can we plan our investments in a similar way if we can't foresee the future?

      Keppel was once a loser in a sunset industry. Did Keppel "planned" the success of today's rig building, or was it the result of being quicker to seize opportunities when they appeared? Or being at the right place at the right time?

      Venture was once a darling growth stock at $18 plus. Remember the outsourcing theme? Now its a dividend play at below $8. Was it planned? Compared to JIT and Omni-Industries owners who sold out near the peak, who "planned" better? Or was it intuition? Luck?

      I was fortunate to make some good money as freeloader of JIT and Omni-Industries when they were privatised. Made the loss of Jurong Tech more palatable ;)

      That's where I learnt "hope" is not a strategy. Kept "hoping" some angel would buy-out Jurong Tech, just like JIT and Omni-Industries :(

      Not everyday is Sunday!


  9. Hi SMOL,
    To me you can plan as much as you want, during execution, somehow most of the times the result doesn't going according to plan. Then you may want to look at your original plan to come out with a new plan.
    If only we can have a great grand plan and every execution of the plan resulted to our expectations, we will be all laughing to the banks.

    “人 算 不 如 天 算”

    "Man proposes, God disposes"

    "No Lady's Luck, Kiss Your Money Goodbye"

    Anyone like to challenge above sayings?

    Not me. i know i have very little grey matters.

    Yet i do plan. But it's almost equivalent to " no planing is also planing".
    i did not actually plan to go into stock market investment. Just that "somethings inside me makes me do it." How foolish can i get?

    1. temperament,

      Your frequent questioning, my constant mind fxxxing.

      I guess we both have our own ways to keep ourselves grounded and humble. You put your faith in him; I put my trust on science.

      Different paths; same humanity.


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