Article #16, November 25, 2003
Whatís the Plan?
Having a plan facilitates completion of a project or goal Ė this is not rocket surgery! Would you even consider having a party without a plan? Create the guest list; send invitations; select food and drink; clean the house; etc. I once heard the average person spends more time planning their vacations than their future! If thatís true, itís a very sad statement.
Facing your future can be daunting and frightening. By committing your innermost, unspoken dreams to paper, you are admitting what you really want and leaving yourself open to formal failure. On the other hand, by putting your desires on paper (or virtual paper) you are sending a strong message to the universe and to your own consciousness. Once you can get past this first step, the rest is much easier.
Some examples of great goals include: achieve $1,000,000 in revenues next year, get a new job doing something I really believe in, learn about the stock market and mutual funds to invest my retirement money, find a significant other, get pregnant, lose 65 pounds Ė I think you get the idea. Also, you donít need to share these goals with anyone (except maybe your coach!).
After brainstorming to discover the goals you really want, think about why each goal is important to you. During this process, ask yourself if the goal is really your goal, or someone elseís. Do you really want to have a baby or do you feel pressured by someone? Are you willing to do whatís required to achieve $1MM in sales or do you feel like thatís what your goal is supposed to be? If you would really rather work part time, this is the time to acknowledge the truth.
Keep in mind during this process that itís ok to change your goals. In fact, I strongly recommend that as you and your business grow, you will need to change your goals, particularly in the beginning stages of planning.
After narrowing down your goals to 1 to 3 achievable goals, re-visit why these achievements are important to you. Clearly write the goals, and for each one include specific timelines and any other quantifiable components. Then write why each goal is important. If you can, include what your life or business will look like when you achieve the goals.
In technical terms, you have just created a vision (what it looks like), a mission (why itís important) and an objective (the stated goal). The next step is to determine your strategies, then the actual plan of action. Sample strategies for losing weight could include: diet and exercise. For achieving $1MM in revenues, strategies could include: using strategic alliances, advertising and PR.
There must be a plan of action for each strategy. In the losing weight example, the diet strategy could include joining a support group, buying 3 times more vegetables and fruits than you currently do and keeping healthy snacks at hand at home and at work. In the $1MM PR strategy, actions could include getting articles written by you published in local papers, creating a monthly newsletter and getting PR pieces published in national trade magazines. This plan of action can be as detailed as you want it to be. I find the details helpful. One detail that IS necessary is deadlines.
So far, your plan has a vision, a mission, one or more objectives, and strategies and action plans for each objective. The length of your plan depends upon the complexity of your objectives. It could be less than one page or several pages Ė itís completely up to you. Donít let anyone else dictate what your plan looks like! This plan structure or template can be used for life plans and for business plans; it could even be used to set up project plans.
The key to the success of your plan, is that it needs to be YOUR plan. The plan needs to be devoid of shoulds and othersí goals. In addition, you need to use your plan regularly. At the end of each month, I look at my plan and have a strategy session with myself. I ask myself these questions:
- What worked?
- What didnít work?
- Do I need to add anything?
- Do I need to delete anything?
- How do I feel as I review my plan? (Is it really MY plan?)
Sometimes I make changes to that document, and sometimes I make a copy before making changes, but I do make changes. I also like to use the strikeout function to mark off those tasks I have accomplished! (It is also important to note that this type of business plan is not meant to be used with potential investors.)
The bottom line is, if you donít know where youíre going, itís going to be difficult to get there. Let me know if you need some help with this.
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