Publication Details

Martin, B, A passion for planning, Social Alternatives, 2001, 20(2), 27-29. The original journal can be found here.


Extract from article: Planning. It’s so very logical, sensible and rational. Is it possible to passionate about it? After all, the word "passion" has connotations of emotionality and spontaneity, almost opposite to the usual image of planning.

Well, I spend a lot of time planning. Certainly I’m committed to it, enthusiastic about it and enjoy doing it. So you could call it a passion.

Personal planning Years ago -- back in the early 1970s, to be honest -- I was living in Sydney. I had started running to keep fit, but every day it was a struggle to feel motivated. Just postpone the run until later, or tomorrow, I said to myself. But when I did go running, it felt good.

The other thing that frustrated me was that I couldn’t run to the office due to the heavy traffic and pollution. Cycling was out of the question. I started imagining an ideal situation: running to work.

Several years later, Kathy and I moved to Canberra where I had a job at the Australian National University. Time to carry out the plan. Having no car, we looked for houses close to shops, public transport, and within running distance of ANU. The result was ideal, from my point of view. I ran about 3km to the campus (and 3km to get home), efficiently combining exercise and commuting. Best of all, I had no more motivation problems. Running became commuting, something done without really thinking about it.

This became a model for personal planning: think ahead to a desired outcome, wait until a suitable opportunity arises, and then implement the plan. A key point was to plan so that my desired outcome became a routine part of my life, without much personal motivation required. You might say that the motivation was built into the planning.