The key to achieving goals is in planning for them, breaking them down into smaller steps that will lead you down the path to whatever you classify as success.

Here’s a pop culture allegory for you.

Batman doesn’t have the physical strength to throw a steam locomotive into the sun. He cannot shoot lasers out of his eyes, or run faster than the speed of the world’s fastest man. He can’t even fly. He’s not Superman.

Yet, Batman has defeated Superman and countless others. He seemingly can’t be beat, but how?

Because he plans. For example, if Batman is going up against Superman, he knows he needs to bring along the one thing that can impair Superman completely. That is pure genius on Batman’s part.

The point is, that with some planning and forethought, you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

However, be careful because planning too much can lead to inaction. There are people who have spent years developing business plans without ultimately founding a business. It’s well documented that perfectionism is the enemy of productivity—and your mental health—and excessive planning often leads to a perfectionist mindset.

With that caveat out of the way, here are some of our favorite quotes about, planning your goals, planning for the future, and strategic planning. Several of the strategic planning quotes relate to warfare, please don’t use them for that specific purpose.

Quotes About Strategy and Forming Plans

Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I tell this story to illustrate the truth of the statement I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, National Defense Executive Reserve Conference

Dwight D. Eisenhower on Planning Quotes:

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s quote captures the essence of adaptability and preparation in the face of uncertainty. It suggests that while specific plans may become obsolete or irrelevant due to unforeseen circumstances, the process of planning itself is invaluable. By engaging in thorough planning, individuals and organizations develop the foresight, resilience, and flexibility needed to respond effectively to changing situations. Eisenhower’s words inspire a mindset focused on continuous preparedness and strategic thinking, emphasizing the importance of planning as a dynamic and ongoing process rather than a rigid set of instructions.


Sun Tzu

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

– Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu on Planning Quotes

Sun Tzu’s quote succinctly captures the essential balance between strategy and tactics in achieving success. It suggests that while strategy provides the overarching framework for achieving goals, tactics are the specific actions taken to execute that strategy. Without strategy, tactics lack direction and coherence, leading to ineffective efforts and potential failure. Conversely, strategy without tactics fails to translate theoretical plans into actionable steps, resulting in slow progress towards victory. Sun Tzu’s words inspire a holistic approach to planning and execution, emphasizing the importance of aligning strategic vision with tactical implementation for optimal outcomes.



“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

– Unknown, often misattributed to Winston Churchill

Unknown on Planning Quotes:

This quote underscores the importance of evaluating the effectiveness of strategies by examining their outcomes. It suggests that no matter how well-crafted or aesthetically pleasing a strategy may be, its true value lies in the tangible results it produces. By emphasizing the need for periodic assessment and reflection, the quote highlights the practical aspect of strategic planning and decision-making. While often attributed to Winston Churchill, its true origin remains unknown. Nonetheless, its message resonates as a timeless reminder to prioritize action and results over mere theoretical elegance.


Finley Peter Dunne

“Trust everybody, but cut the cards.”

– Finley Peter Dunne

Finley Peter Dunne on Planning Quotes:

Finley Peter Dunne’s quote encapsulates a shrewd approach to interpersonal relationships, blending trust with prudence. It suggests that while it’s beneficial to extend trust to others, it’s also wise to maintain a degree of caution or skepticism. The metaphor of “cutting the cards” evokes the idea of safeguarding oneself against potential deception or betrayal, even within seemingly trustworthy interactions. Dunne’s words offer a balanced perspective on trust, advocating for a blend of optimism and discernment in navigating human relationships.


Napoléon Bonaparte

“I am sometimes a fox and sometimes a lion. The whole secret of government lies in knowing when to be the one or the other.”

– Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte on Planning Quotes

Napoléon Bonaparte’s quote encapsulates the nuanced art of leadership and governance. It suggests that effective leadership requires adaptability and the ability to switch between different approaches, represented metaphorically by the traits of a fox (cunning, flexibility) and a lion (strength, boldness). The quote implies that successful governance hinges on the leader’s capacity to discern the appropriate strategy for a given situation, whether it calls for diplomatic finesse or assertive action. Napoléon’s words inspire reflection on the dynamic nature of leadership and the importance of strategic decision-making in achieving political objectives.


Napoléon Bonaparte

“If you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This is the only way to make it shorter and consequently less inhuman.”

– Napoléon Bonaparte

Napoléon Bonaparte on Planning Quotes

Napoléon Bonaparte’s quote reflects the pragmatic approach to warfare, emphasizing the importance of decisiveness and intensity to minimize its duration and human cost. It suggests that by prosecuting a conflict with swift and decisive action, it may be concluded more swiftly, reducing overall suffering. Though advocating severity, the quote implicitly argues that a swift resolution, though harsh, may ultimately mitigate the prolonged anguish and devastation associated with prolonged conflict. Napoléon’s words offer a pragmatic perspective on the grim realities of war, emphasizing the imperative of strategic efficiency in minimizing its toll on humanity.


E.A. Bucchianeri

“Plot and plan like all good generals.”

– E.A. Bucchianeri

E.A. Bucchianeri on Planning Quotes

E.A. Bucchianeri’s quote encapsulates the importance of strategic thinking and meticulous planning in achieving success. It encourages individuals to approach their endeavors with the same careful consideration and foresight employed by skilled military leaders. By emphasizing the value of plotting and planning, the quote underscores the significance of preparation and strategy in navigating life’s challenges and pursuing one’s goals. Bucchianeri’s words serve as a reminder of the power of deliberate action and strategic foresight in achieving desired outcomes.



“Beware the quiet man. For while others speak, he watches. And while others act, he plans. And when they finally rest… he strikes.”

– Unknown

Unknown on Planning Quotes

This quote underscores the deceptive power of the quiet and observant individual. It warns against underestimating those who remain silent and contemplative, as they may be meticulously strategizing and waiting for the opportune moment to make their move. The quote highlights the potential strength and cunning of those who operate behind the scenes, suggesting that their calculated actions can be particularly potent when others least expect it. It serves as a reminder to not overlook the quiet and unassuming, as they may possess formidable capabilities beneath their outward demeanor.


Davis Hackworth

“If you find yourself in a fair fight – you didn’t plan your mission properly.”

– David Hackworth

Davis Hackworth on Planning Quotes

David Hackworth’s quote challenges the notion of fairness in warfare, emphasizing the importance of strategic planning and advantage. It suggests that a truly successful mission should not result in a fair fight, as this would indicate a failure to adequately prepare or exploit weaknesses in the enemy’s defenses. By advocating for asymmetrical advantage, the quote underscores the strategic imperative of maximizing one’s own strengths while minimizing vulnerabilities. Hackworth’s words inspire a mindset focused on proactive planning and tactical innovation to achieve decisive victories on the battlefield.


Charles de Gaulle

“In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.”

– Charles de Gaulle

Charles de Gaulle on Planning Quotes

Charles de Gaulle’s quote encapsulates the strategic maneuvering inherent in political leadership. It suggests that to attain mastery and influence, politicians often adopt the guise of humility and service, presenting themselves as servants of the people. This tactical approach allows politicians to gain trust, build support, and consolidate power while projecting an image of selflessness and dedication to the public good. De Gaulle’s words illuminate the complex interplay between perception and reality in politics, highlighting the strategic use of humility as a means to achieve greater authority and control.


Niccolò Machiavelli

“No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than anything else. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many. Discipline in war counts more than fury.”

– Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli on Planning Quotes

Niccolò Machiavelli’s quote from “The Art of War” encapsulates key principles of strategy and warfare. It underscores the importance of secrecy and timing in military operations, advocating for the concealment of plans until they can be executed effectively. Machiavelli emphasizes the significance of recognizing and seizing opportunities, suggesting that strategic foresight and decisiveness are paramount in achieving success on the battlefield. Additionally, he highlights the role of discipline and training in shaping the outcome of conflicts, asserting that these qualities often outweigh mere aggression or fury. Machiavelli’s words serve as a timeless reminder of the strategic imperatives that underpin military success.


Wild Wild Country

“Pick your enemies carefully because the way your enemies fight is who you become.”

– Wild Wild Country

Wild Wild Country on Planning Quotes

This quote from the documentary “Wild Wild Country” underscores the profound influence that adversaries can have on one’s character and actions. It advises individuals to choose their enemies wisely, as the methods and tactics employed by adversaries can shape one’s own behavior and identity. By cautioning against aligning too closely with the strategies of opponents, the quote highlights the importance of maintaining integrity and ethical standards even in the face of opposition. Ultimately, it serves as a reminder of the transformative power of conflict and the need to remain true to one’s principles in the midst of adversity.


General James Mattis

“The Western democracies, including America, have a strategic deficit right now. We don’t teach enough military history in our universities. Strategy I don’t believe is taught well at all. There is this draw of young patriots into our armed forces. Young people who look beyond the hot political rhetoric and rally to the flag.

In the infantry case, it’s named for an “infant” soldier who are 18, 19, 20 year olds who are serving under 22 and 23 year old sergeants and lieutenants, and they’re willing to put it all on the line.  We owe them a good strategy. We owe them a strong policy. That defends America, and then a strategy to carry it out.

I think at the higher levels in today’s information age is a sense that they really know what’s going on on the front lines because they see these pictures on the news. They can immediately pick up the phone and listen to conversations. But there needs to be a division of labor. Once the strategy is determined, then there’s a feedback loop to keep the political leaders fully informed. No surprises. But you take your hands off the steering wheel, and turn that over to the young officers on the battle field that’ve been trained and educated to carry out those responsibilities.

So why are we making the same mistakes? Part of it is the human condition. War is a fundamentally unpredictable phenomenon. At times you just can’t predict what’ll go wrong once you start out in this direction. One of the wisest mentors I ever had said: ‘Don’t ever tell your adversary what it is you will not do.’ That is a guiding principle for me. In other words, if we are going to pull out of a fight – don’t tell the enemy you’re going to do that.  Because then they know when you’re not going to fight any longer. Don’t put yourself in a position where the enemy can simply wait you out. Force the enemy onto the horns of a dilemma. Create chaos in the enemy’s camp.

Don’t reassure them – even if you’re not going to do something. Don’t reassure them in advance. In this case (the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War) we were reassuring the adversary that we’re going to pull out. Our intelligence community called it exactly right when they warned us that if we pull all our troops out – if we have no more influence – over helping the Iraqi army defeat this army, then they’re going to back stronger than ever.

And you and I know now that ISIS did exactly that. We had to reintroduce the troops once again. The thousands killed, the tens of thousands wounded, the hundreds of thousands or millions forced into refugee status – we’ve seen the heartbreak of what happens when you make a bad strategic decision. You have to come to grips with reality. You cannot deny reality. Or reality will feed you a very, very tough pill.”

– General James Mattis

General James Mattis on Planning Quotes

General James Mattis’s quote emphasizes the importance of strategic thinking and leadership in military operations. He highlights the need for a strong understanding of military history and strategy, as well as the critical role of well-trained officers in executing strategic plans effectively. Mattis underscores the unpredictability of warfare and the necessity of maintaining flexibility and adaptability in response to changing circumstances. He also warns against telegraphing intentions to adversaries and emphasizes the need to create dilemmas for them. Mattis’s insights offer valuable lessons for military leaders and policymakers, emphasizing the consequences of strategic mistakes and the imperative of facing reality in decision-making processes.


Dr. Ben Carson

“No matter how good you are at planning, the pressure never goes away. So I don’t fight it. I feed off it. I turn pressure into motivation to do my best.”

Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson on Planning Quotes

Dr. Ben Carson’s quote highlights a mindset of resilience and determination in the face of pressure. Rather than succumbing to the stress of planning and decision-making, Carson embraces it as a source of motivation. He views pressure not as an obstacle to be avoided, but as a catalyst for performing at his best. By reframing pressure as a driving force for excellence, Carson demonstrates the power of a positive mindset in achieving success. His words inspire a proactive approach to challenges, encouraging individuals to harness pressure as fuel for personal growth and achievement.


Napoleon Hill

“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you ready or not, to put this plan into action.”

– Napoleon Hill

Napoleon Hill on Planning Quotes

Napoleon Hill’s quote advocates for decisive action in pursuit of one’s goals. It emphasizes the importance of creating a clear and actionable plan, then taking immediate steps to implement it, regardless of one’s readiness. By encouraging proactive engagement and a commitment to action, Hill underscores the transformative power of initiative and perseverance in achieving desired outcomes. His words inspire individuals to overcome hesitation and uncertainty, urging them to begin their journey towards success with determination and resolve.


Pablo Picasso

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Pablo Picasso

Pablo Picasso on Planning Quotes

Pablo Picasso’s quote underscores the essential role of planning and belief in achieving success. It emphasizes the importance of formulating a clear plan and wholeheartedly committing to it through decisive action. Picasso suggests that unwavering belief in one’s goals, coupled with vigorous effort, is the surest path to realizing them. His words inspire individuals to approach their aspirations with determination and conviction, recognizing that diligent planning and persistent action are indispensable components of any successful endeavor.


Margaret Thatcher

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.”

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher on Planning Quotes

Margaret Thatcher’s quote epitomizes the importance of diligent planning and disciplined execution in achieving success. It emphasizes the need to carefully outline tasks and objectives for each day and then faithfully follow through with the planned actions. By advocating for a proactive and organized approach to work, Thatcher underscores the significance of strategic thinking and focused effort in reaching one’s goals. Her words serve as a timeless reminder of the power of planning and consistent action in driving progress and accomplishing objectives.


J.R.R. Tolkien

“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near one.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien on Planning Quotes

J.R.R. Tolkien’s quote from “The Hobbit” highlights the importance of considering all potential risks and challenges, particularly those that pose significant threats. By metaphorically likening a live dragon to an unpredictable danger, Tolkien emphasizes the necessity of acknowledging and addressing such risks in one’s calculations and plans. The quote serves as a cautionary reminder to be vigilant and prepared for unforeseen obstacles, urging individuals to account for even the most formidable adversaries in their strategic decision-making.