People who are always planning but never executing often display these 7 subtle behaviors

Lucas Graham by Lucas Graham | February 26, 2024, 3:29 pm

“Always be prepared,” my high school coach used to say.

It’s a piece of advice I’ve held onto for years, yet there’s a catch.

You see, sometimes we get so caught up in planning that we forget the most crucial part – execution.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’re the type who enjoys the thrill of laying out detailed plans. Or perhaps, you find a bizarre comfort in to-do lists that never seem to shrink.

But here’s the rub.

While planning is essential, it’s easy to slip into patterns that keep us stuck in the planning phase. Forever strategizing, but seldom doing.

So, if you’re silently nodding and thinking, “That sounds like me,” you might want to stick around.

In this article, we’re going to dive into 7 subtle behaviors often displayed by those who are perpetual planners but rarely execute.

And in doing so, hopefully, we can start shifting from merely planning to actually doing.

1) They spend more time researching than doing

Ever met someone who knows the ins and outs of a topic, yet hasn’t actually done anything about it?

This is a common trait among perpetual planners.

They love to research. They’ll spend hours, days, even weeks collecting information, analyzing possibilities, and preparing for every conceivable outcome.

But here’s the kicker.

Despite all their knowledge, they rarely put it into action. Their plans remain on paper, untouched and unfulfilled.

The thrill of learning and strategizing often overshadows the need for action. And while research is indeed crucial, it should never replace execution.

Remember, knowledge without action is just trivia.

2) They’re perfectionists

I’ll be honest, I’ve fallen into this trap myself.

I once decided to start a blog. I spent weeks researching the perfect blogging platform, the ideal blog layout, the most effective SEO strategies, and even the best times to post for maximum engagement.

But guess what?

I never actually published a single blog post. Why? Because I was so consumed with creating the ‘perfect’ blog that I forgot the main purpose – to share my thoughts and ideas.

Perfectionism is a common trait among those who are always planning but never executing. They’re so fixated on getting every detail right that they end up not doing anything at all.

The fear of making a mistake or not meeting their own high standards can paralyze them, keeping them stuck in the planning stage.

So, if you find yourself obsessing over every little detail before taking action, you might be a perfectionist planner.

3) They fear the unknown

I remember when I was planning to switch careers. I had always dreamed of being a writer, but I was working in a completely different field.

I made plans, set goals, and even attended writing workshops on the weekends. Yet, when it came down to actually making the switch, I hesitated.


Because I was scared of stepping into the unknown. The thought of leaving the security of my current job and venturing into a new field filled me with anxiety.

And this is something many perpetual planners struggle with.

They plan meticulously but hesitate to execute those plans because they fear what lies ahead. Uncertainty can be scary, and it’s easier to stay in the familiar realm of planning than to venture into the unfamiliar territory of action.

The fear of failure, rejection, or simply the unknown can keep us stuck in our comfort zone – forever planning, but never executing.

4) They lack self-belief

This is a subtle one, but it’s worth noting.

Have you ever found yourself planning something, only to question whether you’re capable of actually doing it?

That’s a classic sign of lacking self-belief.

You see, sometimes, we plan as a form of procrastination because deep down, we doubt our abilities. We worry that we might not have the skills or talents necessary to execute our plans successfully.

And so, we hide behind our plans. We convince ourselves that we’re not ready yet, that we need more time to prepare.

But the truth is, no amount of planning can compensate for a lack of self-belief. Until we believe in ourselves and our abilities, we will always find reasons to delay execution.

So, if you often find yourself doubting your capabilities despite extensive planning, it might be time to work on boosting your self-confidence.

5) They’re overwhelmed by the big picture

Did you know that our brains are wired to respond to immediate rewards?

That’s why, when confronted with a massive plan or goal, we can often feel overwhelmed. The end result seems so far away and the path to get there too arduous.

Many perpetual planners fall into this trap. They create grand plans, but the sheer magnitude of those plans intimidates them into inaction.

Instead of breaking down their plan into manageable tasks, they get stuck gazing at the big picture, which seems too daunting to tackle.

This is why it’s crucial to remember that every journey starts with a single step. Breaking down your plans into smaller, achievable tasks can make the overall goal seem less intimidating and more attainable.

6) They struggle with decision-making

I’ve always been indecisive.

When I was planning to move out of my parents’ house, I had a hard time deciding where to live. There were so many factors to consider – the cost, the location, the proximity to work, and so on.

I made lists, weighed pros and cons, and even sought advice from friends and family. But despite all this planning, I found myself unable to make a decision.

This is something many chronic planners can relate to. Decision-making can be tough, especially when there are multiple options or outcomes to consider.

But here’s the thing.

By not making a decision, we’re, in fact, making a decision – to stay where we are. And that can keep us stuck in the planning phase indefinitely.

So if you often find yourself paralyzed by decisions, it might be time to confront this challenge head-on.

After all, progress requires action, and action begins with a decision.

7) They underestimate the power of action

It’s easy to get lost in the intricacies of planning. But the most important thing to remember is this: no amount of planning can replace action.

Plans are essential, sure. They give us direction, focus, and a roadmap to our goals. But without action, they’re just words on a page.

The real magic happens when we start doing. When we take our plans and breathe life into them through action. That’s when we learn, grow, and make progress.

So if you find yourself stuck in the planning phase, remind yourself of the power of action.

And then, take that first step towards turning your plans into reality.

Embracing the action

Awareness is the first step towards transformation. By recognizing these patterns, you can start to shift from planning to action.

Begin by noticing when you’re over-planning or hesitating to take action. Pay attention to moments when fear or self-doubt holds you back. Identify instances where perfectionism or indecisiveness keeps you stuck.

When these moments arise, pause. Reflect on your intentions and question if your actions align with them. Remember, progress is fueled by action, not perfection.

This shift won’t happen in an instant. It’s a journey that requires patience and self-compassion. But each small step towards execution over planning strengthens your ‘action muscle’ and builds momentum.

So, as you move forward, be gentle with yourself. Celebrate your victories, no matter how small. And remember, the power to change lies within you.

In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

In closing, reflect on these words. 

Then ask yourself: How can I shift from planning to doing? Your answer might just be the first step towards a more action-oriented life.