Law 29: Plan All The Way To The End

The 48 Laws Of Power Summary Series


“The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead.”

Carl von Clausewitz

This law is about patience, foresight and being control of your emotions amid the chaos.

Transgression Of The Law

In the 1500s there was a noble bold young Spaniard named Vasco Núñez de Balboa. Balboa was one of the first adventures to come in search of Columbus’s land of gold, he had decided he would be the one to find it. Balboa was in search of immense riches and went to the ends of the Earth acquire it.

Vasco Núñez de Balboa was a Spanish explorer, governor, and conquistador.

Gold was his dream and El Dorado, ‘the golden empire’, was his desire. Hundreds died through Balboa’s expeditions and by the end of it his head fell into a basket.


While the entire story is just too long to cover in this written summary the principles are not. Balboa was blinded by his fantasy for gold and couldn’t see the people planning his demise next to him. He was known for acting out of rash emotion instead of methodically planning ahead. This is not unlike today — many of us are on are own search for metaphorical gold and physical riches. Through that process many become hyper focused on the end goal missing everything that’s happening around them as Balboa did.

“Most men are ruled by the heart, not the head. Their plans are vague, and when they meet obstacles they improvise. But improvisations will only bring you as far as the next crisis, and is never a substitute for thinking several steps ahead and planning to the end […] But Balboa was locked in the moment, always reacting emotionally, never thinking ahead. What good is it to have the greatest dream in the world if others reap the benefits and the glory? Never lose your head over a vague, open ended dream —plan to the end.”

To some, attacking and going on the offence comes easy. But many overuse it and become blinded by their own aggression. It’s learning how and when to come off the attack that is critical. It’s understanding the right moment to be premeditated and patient. The biggest influences in the world are the stone cutters persist at hammering away at the a piece of rock 1000 times without a crack showing to find on the 1001st try…the rock splits .

Keys To Power

“According to the cosmology of the ancient Greeks, the gods were thought to have a complete vision for the future. They saw every everything, right down to the intricate details. Men, on the other hand, were seen as victims of fate, trapped in the moment and their emotions, unable to see beyond immediate dangers.”

Maybe we can be like gods instead…

“Most people believe that they are in fact aware of the future, that they are planning and thinking ahead. They are usually deluded: what they are really doing is succumbing to their desires, to what they want the future to be. Their plans are vague, based on their imaginations rather than their reality, they may believe they are thinking all the way to the end. But they are really only focusing on the happy ending, and deluding themselves by the strength of their desire.”

Be self aware enough to know the difference.



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Self reflective writings & book summaries on philosophy, psychology and human behaviour.

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