The Planning Trap – Part 2 of 2

Part 1 of the planning trap covered why it is essential to plan, why taking a day out to focus on planning is important, what looking backwards before looking forwards can do for you and why it is great to start with a big goal.

Dividing a big goal into manageable chunks

Once you have your big goal you can divide it into more manageable periods of time. A three year goal can seem a long time away and it can often be a struggle to associate day-to-day activities now to what will happen in three years time.
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In order to make it more real it needs to be chunked into 90 day segments. A quarterly plan allows periodic activity towards the major goal with enough flexibility and control to move in different directions and react to circumstances along that road to the big goal. 90 days in turn can be chunked down further into a weekly plan. 90 days is 13 weeks therefore 13 individual weekly plans will meet the 90 day objectives which will in turn be directly related to hitting the three year goal.

The major advantage to going to the level of creating a weekly plan is you can neurologically associate day-to-day activities moving you closer and closer to the big goal. Suddenly that goal which seemed so far away is getting closer by everything you do each and every day. You can see it, feel it and taste it! Remember that three years is just 12 quarters and approximately 156 weeks, not long when you chunk it down.

Plan the next dates in advance

The key to ensuring one quarterly plan turns into 12 quarterly plans is setting the dates in advance. It would be very easy to do one plan, give yourself a round of applause, get back in to day-to-day life and forget planning ever happened.

Continued success comes from regular planning sessions and creating the habit of taking that day out every quarter. It is only one day every 13 weeks and it can provide such a great buzz of excitement and energy afterwards it’s an absolute must for all successful businesses.

Once you have it, share it

As soon as you have the plan in written format, then the next most important step to make it a reality is to share it with people. If you keep your plan to yourself then it is you versus the plan, if you share it then many people can help you achieve it. They can offer help by providing you with accountability by asking you how you are getting on and the more people you have on your side versus the plan the more likely you are to achieve it.

This isn’t something you must do by yourself. Share it with fellow directors, employees, family, friends, the next door neighbour, anyone who you think can help you in whatever way to make it happen. Taken seriously, the planning trap can be overcome and it is a critical ingredient to making your business a sustained success.

The Planning Trap – Part 1 of 2

Ever heard the phrase ‘if you fail to plan you plan to fail’?

That is one of many clichés that people use when describing the importance of planning in business. Planning is the most logical and forward thinking activity anyone in business, whether an owner or employee, can do to achieve success, however it is often one of the activities that gets over looked. Planning is often replaced by ‘just getting on with it’ and very often the results can show that ‘just getting on with it’ can be a very expensive mistake.
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The successful people see planning as defining the road to success. By taking the time out of day-to-day life and focusing on what needs to be put in place to create that road to success provides vitality, energy, enthusiasm and direction to achieve the goal. Look at sports teams as an example.

Before each season begins the coaches and key personnel will get together, discuss the aims for the season, decide on who needs to be recruited to achieve success, which positions require strengthening and what they are going to do during the season to give themselves the best possible chance of success.

During the season they measure their success against their season goals and adjust anything that needs to be adjusted along the way. The planning at the starts creates the road to success. Here are some awesome tips to make planning easier for you, whether you are a business owner, an employee or a new sports coach…

Begin by taking a day out

First and most important step is to plan the day you are going to plan. Take a day totally out of your usual working environment so you avoid distractions, interruptions and anything that might take you off task. A new venue will help to give the freedom and clarity to think clearly about what you want to lie ahead without worrying about what you are missing in the office.

It will take a whole day so make sure you give it thought. A hotel out of town, a meeting room in a neutral office you could hire, a friend’s house would be great too. It needs to be neutral and can give you thinking time.

Look back before looking forward

The start of every good planning day begins with a look behind at what just happened. If it is your first planning day then the looking back should be over the last 12 months minimum. What did you do well? What did you do not so well? How many of the things you wanted to happen happened? How did you deal with the things that you weren’t expecting to happen? Where were you expecting to be by now? How close to that point are you?

Those questions are vitally important to learn from the past and make the future even better. It can sometimes be very difficult to look into the past but it can be the difference between success and failure moving forward.

Start with the big goal

In order to define your road to success you need to first identify what is at the end of the road. It is essential to have big, long term to be heading towards. At this stage you don’t need to be able to fully define how to get there but you need to know where you are going.

Thinking back to the sports team, they would target a certain position to achieve at the end of the season. Where is it to be number 1 team in their respective league or simply to consolidate their place in the league above the demotion line, it is a goal and a focus.

If you are in business, what do you want your business to look like in three years time? Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Do you want to only work part time in three years time? That’s where your planning day needs to start, defining a long term goal. If you have never planned before then let this be the main focus of the day.

Whether you’ve been in business 20 days or 20 years it’s never too late to set a big, long term goal. Every major successful business in the world today started out with a big goal.

Microsoft, Ford, Apple all had a day when in their infancy a goal was made and a plan was hatched. Use their great examples to do it for yourself.