Planning – A Simple System

This month we will be discussing “Planning – Make it easy and make it fun!”

An old boss of mine used to say “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Grim words…….. however there is some truth in them. If we don’t know where we are going or how we are going to get there, chances are we won’t arrive!

The thought of planning can make people yawn and avoid it. In this call we will cover the three easy steps to making a plan that you will love and actually use!

If you are tired of feeling overwhelmed and out of control, this call is for you! A plan will help you feel in control.

On this call you will discover:

  • why the brain actually likes you to have a plan
  • 3 easy steps to create a plan to use
  • what to do to make sure you use it

As always, these calls will be one part inspiration, one part practical and the last part action! So you leave the call with easy steps you can apply to your business immediately.

I know from my own experience and that of my clients that it is really easy to create goals and get all gung ho about them but the reality is, is that it is much harder to keep working on the goal and really bring it to life. It seems as if our normal life gets in the way of the changes we want to make!

We are going to look at a simple way of to create a top level plan to achieve your goals.

So often when we think of creating plans, we think they can be very constraining and stop us from being flexible. But infact what a plan does is liberate you. Yes, really – a plan will liberate you because you know what you need to do when, and so it will take the guess work out of what you need to do on any day.

Here are some reasons why I think having a plan is essential to your business success:

1.    Harness your most precious resources TIME, ENERGY and MONEY effectively

–       When you have a goal you want to achieve for your business, you need to know that you are utilising your most precious resources for your business effectively…

–       By creating a plan of tasks and investment you will feel confident you are doing the right things at the right time to get your goals – you will have confidence that your resources are being wisely spent

A plan will give you a work schedule…so you don’t need to procrastinate about what to do when….you will just need to execute. This can be essential when

–       the goal may be stepping us out of our comfort zone and so we feel some deep resistance to doing it

–       Breaking your goal into much smaller tasks will also help you see how you can achieve it. Sometimes when we set goals, they can seem big and impossible…even if we do want them! But by breaking the goal into step by step task, really helps us feel more confident we can achieve each step we need to and then ultimately get the goal

–       Having golas and a plan will help you make critical business decisions as often we get presented with opportunities about what we could do or get involved in and when we already have a framework we can decided things much more easily e.g. shall I exhibit in the conference or not? Will it help me reach my goal or are there other things I could do to reach my goal more effectively?

–       Also, when you have a plan and you execute it, it is then much easier for you to assess what worked and what didn’t. You can then start to analyse a retun on your investment. For instance – did those activities, get you your desired result? Or not? When you have a list pof all the activities you want to do, it is much easier to go back and review. From this, you can learn what to do or not to do next time!

2.    LIFT you thinking from working IN your business to working ON it

–       As business owners it is SO easy to get stuck in the day to day of running our businesses and feel like we are busy and a achieving a lot.

–       But in reality we may be just standing still – as we create a lot of activity but it isn’t the big stuff that we need to undertake to help us shift our business to the next level.

–       Creating goals with a plan will allow you to know that the work you are doing is actually building towards something you want to achieve for your business. So you will feel that your time is being effectively spent to build your business..not being busy

3.    Give you PURPOSE and MOTIVATION by helping you feel in control!!

–       Goals help you answer the ‘so what’ question….

–       Have some of you wondered what the point of it all is? Why do you work these hours, have the stress – particularly in these times

–       Why does your work seem to be controlling you,, not the other way around. A plan can help you feel in control of your business because you have outlined all the steps you need to do to get your business where you want it. You can prioritise your time better and start to feel in control.

And because I’m that sort of person, I love ticking things off from my plan when I have completed them

3 easy ways to make the plan!

Now I’ve talked about why it’s important to have a plan, lets take you through the 3 easy steps to create a plan you will actually use!

Step 1: Start at the Finish

Sometimes when we start work on our goals we can feel overwhelmed by them or sometimes start to wonder if the work is even worth it, or we think “why bother”…

I want you to write down your goal now in the space on the worksheet.

Thank you.

Now it’s time to be still and imagine what it will be like to achieve your goal. Quieten your mind and imagine it is Dec 31 2o12…the Olympics have been and gone, we have celebrated the queen’s diamond jubilee and we have just had a fabulous festive season.

Think about your goal –

  • What’s happened to your business, what’s new, what’s different
  • How does it feel to have achieved your goal
  • What is your life like now having achieved the goal?
  • Really, really try and imagine what this future will be like when you have achieved it

Now jot down your thoughts of what it will be like when you have achieved them.

The reason we do this visualisation into the future of having achieved our goals is so that when the going gets tough you can tap back into the excitement and motivation you felt around achieving your goals and making things different.

This is very motivating.

Step 2. Break the goal into tiny tasks

Now, you need a tool for this next part. Find a stack of post-it notes, and get ready to write!

you are going to think of all the little steps that you have taken to achieve this goal. Sometimes it is easier to start at the finish and work backwards.

Use the Post Its and write down each action on a post it note – everything you think of, you write down…so it is one action on one post it notes. So will end up with a stack of post its.

Here is MY EXAMPLE to help

I find that if I get really granular – so instead of “marketing” – I say write tweets, write email, schedule email campaign, create ad, book ad space, that it seems much more achievable.

Step 3; Order and Timings!

Then I start to out them in order. And the brilliant thing about post it notes, is that it is easy to add to them, and easy to change the order of them!

The easy way to do this is to get a big piece of paper, or sellotape together smaller ones, and put the months on the top. To make this easy, I get some paper form my office printer (A4) and then sellotape them together lengthwise. Then I would write the month on the top.

The I start to arrange the post it notes in the order they need to be done in and then the date they need to be completed by. Once you have written most of he tasks down , oit is easy to put them in order. So, you know that you will have to write your web page, then make it live before you can promote it on social media.

The brilliant thing about this system, is that wqhen you are in the wprocess of lining up all the actiosn, you will naturally think about what else you need to do – and so you may end up adding more to your plan. This is a good thing, as it will help you feel more confident that you have captured all the elements of making your goal a reality and thus having the success for your business.

So for my example I gave you before….

Then I put these up in a very visible place so I see it very day.

Here is MY EXAMPLE to help

For example, if I had a goal of wanting to buy a beach house in New Zealand by December 2011, here’s a list of the ‘big’ things I would need to do, looking back from December

–       Move in and celebrate! dec

–       Sign the contracts – sep

–       Agree finance from the bank – june/jluy

–       Negotiate and agree price with seller may/jiune

–       Go to NZ and view houses april

–       Research on web feb

–       Decide location and budget end of jan

–       Convince husband ;-))

Execution!

I know from my own experience and that of my clients that creating the plan is the easy piece….the harder price can be actually doing the work!

The next step in bringing the plan to life – and it is ESSENTIAL – is to schedule each task in your calendar.

Yes – you need to take each post it note and decided when you ewill do it an dmake the time for it.

If you do not do this, chances are, the events of the day will seeem more urgent and  the tasks that you need to do to actually achieve your business goal will not get done.

It is critical to do this, so you spend the time DOING the work! When you do the work , and complete the tasks, you will achieve the goal.

When that task comes up in your diary and you are tempted to do something else…refer back to the benefits of you completing the goal. What will, be different for you and your business – how will you feel – why is it worth doing this work now? Tie yourself into the benefits and the payoff for doing that work now…..

It is important to commit time to build your business. If you don’t, it won’t grow.

I would love to know what actions you take from this call, please leave me a comment below and tell me!

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