Planning can be a mixed blessing: a good plan can make you much more efficient, while a bad plan can waste a lot of time. When you have a goal in mind, how do you strike the right balance between strategy and action?

Studies suggest that when we plan well, we perform well, but they also show that we often resist thinking ahead unless someone encourages us to do so. It seems we have a tendency to solve problems opportunistically—as and when they arise—rather than anticipate them beforehand. If we can train ourselves to think ahead, however, we’re at a real advantage.

What’s stopping us?

Cognitive scientists Wayne Gray and Wai-Tat Fu argue ...

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