A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Did you read my last post about my theme for the next year? Along with deciding that 2017 would be my year to evolve, I set some goals for the new year. Whether you call them goals or resolutions, the number one reason for failure is a failure to plan. So, it’s true that a goal without a plan turns out to be nothing more than just a wish and a dream. So, I’ve decided to share my personal planning practices with you.
- Think about last year. This is something that we are all naturally doing anyway as we closed out 2016 and entered 2017. The new year is a great time to set new goals because we are already in that mindset of personal reflection. Close your eyes and think over the past year. Then think about where you hope to be this time next year. Consider the following questions: What did you do right in 2016? What did you do wrong in 2016? What do you wish you could do more of in 2017? What do you want to do less of in 2017?
- Write down the big vision or theme that emerges for 2017. This is exactly how I ended up with the themes of finish and evolve for 2016 and 2017. When you answer each of the questions in step 1 for yourself, you are going to find that an overarching theme or quest for the year lies waiting for you in your answers.
- Set specific goals. It is best to get as specific as possible when setting your goals. Examples of bad, non-specific goals: eat healthier, work out more, get out of debt. Sure, the idea behind each of those goals is fantastic, but you are doomed to failure because the actual goalpost is not well-defined. A better set of goals might be to cut out fast food, take a walk every night after work, and pay an extra $100 per month on your student loan.
- Find the “why” behind your goals and vision. If you have any experience at all with direct sales companies, you will probably be familiar with the concept of identifying your why. Direct sales training involves challenging people to identify why they are entering the business and why they want to sell. Your “why” is not a superficial type of answer like “I want to sell because I want to make more money.” You are required to think beyond that obvious easy answer to the deeper reason that you desire the money. For example, do you want financial freedom, to be able to take your children on vacation, or to help your parents with medical expenses? That more specific answer is your “why” and is the true motivation behind your effort. The same needs to be true with setting your annual goals and vision. You are simply less likely to succeed if you can’t identify what is driving you to set these goals in the first place. I can tell you without a doubt, this has always been the reason I ultimately fail to reach a goal. My problem has been that I tend to set goals and measure success based on what is expected rather than what really matters to me. Plus, you’ll find that reaching a goal motivated by anything other than your deepest desires is not very satisfying anyway.
- Create a system for success. When I set a goal, I also plan and draw out a pathway to reaching that goal. I’ve found a couple of different tools that help me with my strategic planning. The only electronic tool I actually use is Evernote. It is a smart notebook system that allows you to write notes, share them on multiple devices through your Evernote account, search your notes, and share your notes with others. I have two small physical notebooks where I physically plot out my ideas. The act of putting pen to paper is absolutely essential for me to extract the mess of tangled thoughts in my brain and allow them to enter this dimension. Once I get out my ideas and break my goals into daily tasks, I enter those items into my Erin Condren Life Planner. I wrote about why I love this planner so much, and I can’t recommend it enough for any girl trying desperately to keep all the pieces of her life from exploding on the floor around her.
Bonus Pro Tip: I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t reach your goals without a plan. I can also guarantee that your plan is going to get shot out of the water within a few weeks. Don’t be so rigid with your planning that you cannot adapt. Nothing is going to go exactly as you imagined or planned, and the most successful people are those whose minds are flexible enough to update their plans immediately in response to a changing environment.