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Making Plans Is The Key To Accomplishing Goals

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Cliché as it may be, the start of the new year means we naturally set resolutions. We look ahead, hoping to achieve those things we’ve put off for far too long — fitness, better control of finances, spending more time with family. We do the same for our businesses. The start of the new year is just ripe for goal setting.

Before we look ahead, we must look back. So, we ask ourselves, “What went well?”, “What didn’t go as planned?”, and, “What can we do better next year?” That’s a great start, knowing where you are and where you want to go, but it’s not enough. You also need a plan.

Without a plan, all you have is a dream, and that’s where so many goal-setting endeavors fail. They produce lofty goals but don’t take the time to create actionable steps. If my goal this year is to run a marathon in December (it’s not, but bear with me), I better have a consistent plan in place to get myself from the couch to running a mile, then a 5K, then a 10K, and so on, all by specific dates. If I don’t, and I just look at my new running shoes in the corner all year, my goal of running 26.2 miles will never happen. Goals require plans, timetables, and accountability in order to be realized.

Around here, our annual goals are broken out into 90-day incremental goals (we’re an EOS firm, so we call those increments “rocks”). We’re always asking where we need to be in 90 days so that we stay on track for our annual goals.  Then we ask, “Based on where we need to be in 90 days, what are the activities that need to be done in the next three months that are going to set us up for success? What’s our scorecard? How do we know if we’re on track? What are potential roadblocks? What are the issues we’re running into and how do we get those issues solved? Who is responsible for what?”

Do you get the idea?

For every goal you have, you need to strip it down to time-based activities that you’re doing on an ongoing basis, activities that are in your calendar with specific deadlines and specific owners assigned to each activity. It’s a time-consuming process but worth it. You cannot accomplish goals any other way.

One final note: Be super clear on (and passionate about) your ‘why’ — the reason you’re actually in pursuit of the goal. If you’re not, the goal will fall away because the planning and execution will become too hard.

Let’s go back to my marathon example. The reason I’ll likely never run a marathon is that the ‘why’ just isn’t there for me. Sure, I’d love to post a picture on Facebook of me crossing a finish line and have people gush over it, but beyond that, there’s nothing else motivating me to get up and train every single day, regardless of the weather or how I’m feeling, for the next year. There’s just not.

Now, as a mother and a wife, my desire to be there for my children, to keep up with them, to live a long and healthy life for my family, is a powerful ‘why’. That’s why I generally eat right, get some exercise on a regular basis, and don’t fall completely off the health wagon. I’m intensely motivated to maintain a general level of good health. I’m not motivated to take up extreme sports.

Why do so many New Year’s resolutions fail (both personal and business)? Why is the gym packed in January but empty in February? Because people’s ‘why’ isn’t strong enough. Don’t make that mistake. If you don’t have a strong “why,” then the “how” isn’t going to work.

Be lofty in your goals this year but don’t neglect the planning it takes to get there.

Now, go conquer 2019.

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