12 Nov

Cue-Based Planning?

And what, you might ask, is cue-based planning? And why should I care? Well, it’s apparently a better way to make your dreams come true. Based on the Wall Street Journal’s summary of research by Wharton professor Katy Milkman, cue-based planning simply boils down to “if x, then y.”

As an example, don’t just say you want to write a book. Instead, say that if you’re home at 7:00 on Monday night, you will devote the evening to your novel. Don’t say you want to exercise more. Say that if the weather’s nice on Saturday morning, you will take a walk. It sounds like what used to be called more specific goals. As I often told clients about business plans, a goal without a timeline attached to it is merely a wish.

Without a deadline, things get pushed off. And anything that helps you remember (cue) when to do something makes it more likely you will actually do it. Many artists apply this approach to their work, going into their studio at specified times rather than waiting for the muse to strike. Not me. LOL I paint when I feel inspired to do so. That actually makes the process easier and faster for me.

I do have routines, but am flexible about timing. I usually think about the painting for months, referring to my photos to remember what was exciting about a scene, then doing sketches to try it out. I prefer an uninterrupted block of time at the start, which lets me get the painting halfway done and determine if it’s going to work. Finally, I’ll spend hours, over the course of many weeks, adding to, revising, and tweaking until it seems finished. That’s how this painting, of a town on the Canal du Midi in southern France, finally came to life.


  1. How wonderful, Michael – Siena is beautiful! I’m glad my posts elicit fond memories for you. Painting does that for me, and lately serves as vicarious travel, too. 😉

  2. It reminds me of a spot where Mark and I had lunch in Sienna, Italy. Your posts always bring back memories of travels that we’ve been fortunate to make!

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