“It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish”, goes the well-known quote by Jim George.
If he meant to suggest it’s important not to give up and not ease off when the end is in sight, it makes sense.
However, ask anyone who has raced before and they’ll tell you it’s a lot easier to win a race from a leading position than playing catch-up.
As I found out personally only too well for myself way back when I was playing rugby, there’s always a tipping point where no amount of positive thinking can fill a gap opened by delay, inaction, procrastination or waiting too long to do the work.
If you’ve already done your planning for the year, this blog may give you the validation of your approach and where you’re at in terms of being able to achieve what you want in 2022.
If you haven’t I’d love to share with you how I’ve approached one of the most important parts; bridging the disconnect between knowing what you want to achieve and having the means and method to achieve it.
For me, the start of the year matters.
It’s one of the more important elements in my coaching when it comes to helping the businesses who engage my services to achieve great results.
When we get a clear start to the year, can see exactly what were you’re aiming at and how we’re going to do it, we:
- generate the ability to eliminate or temporarily isolate from our focus anything that isn’t going to move you forward, and
- start off feeling motivated and capable of getting done what needs to be done.
Conversely, the polar opposite – waiting until March before you actually sit down and think about what needs to happen – almost always puts you as a business owner under pressure, if not immediately then definitely come the latter end of the year, as you try to squeeze four months progress into the final 30 days or so before Christmas.
Let me share with you how it works. There are three elements.
The first element is all about refreshing reviewing or setting a three to five-year strategic vision.
It’s got a few components but really this is about setting sights and putting a marker on a hill as to where you want to go.
This is in part a motivational thing. Without a clear purpose and direction, it can be hard to be enthusiastic about what you’re doing, especially when times are tough.
It’s like when you don’t have a holiday in the diary to look forward to.
However, there’s also an element to it which is about recognising that if you’re aiming to achieve big things in your business, it’s probably not going to happen in one step.
Most business success stories happen in stages; transformations through a number of phases of solving very specific issues that stop you from growing, like going from being a profitable business but one that’s still mostly about you and your advice, to a systemised business where the profit happens for other reasons too.
Or the stage when you stop trying to manage most things and instead hand off responsibility to others, so you can step into your own specialist role.
What this is really about is doing what’s needed at each stage to reach the next, and so on until you get where you’re going.
Hence, I’ve always seen strategic planning as being about charting a pathway through different stages of evolution, where it’s less about the timeframe and more about intent.
Your Strategic Plan/ Vision is basically a moving target.
In truth, there will be some things that happen within just two years. Some will take longer. What I do know is it’s beyond unlikely they’ll all suddenly happen at the same time after exactly three years.
(If it ever does, well, I’ll know we’re in The Matrix.)
Because it’s simply unlikely that everything that you put down is going to happen literally on the final day of the third or fifth year. Doesn’t happen like that.
The second element is your 12 Month Roadmap
If the vision is an evolution, the roadmap is about chunking it down into what needs to happen right now to get to the next stage.
I do this by covering five key areas, but of those, the targets are probably the most important component because it leads to metrics.
I also have a philosophy around planning that I call Domino Planning. It’s an approach that leans heavily on Gary Keller’s book “The One Thing” and requires us to identify all the potential projects we could do over the next 12 months, but then assuming we can only do one at a time.
This forces us to decide what matters most to us, what we need to create and prioritise where we focus our time, which ultimately leads to faster progress.
The final part element is the most important, and what I call the Method.
It’s about being able to break down what you need to do (aka projects) into all the component actions that need to occur to get very, very clear on what needs to happen, then doing some real thinking about how you’re actually going to get things done.
This is where the gap between having a good plan and knowing what you want to achieve and having the means and method to achieve it lives.
The secret to this starts by recognising that understanding what needs to be done isn’t the same thing as planning to have the time, the headspace and the resources to make it happen.
Herein lies one of the challenges that many businesses have in turning plans into results, and it’s all down to that thing called the Akrasia Effect and the battle between future and present.
We all want to create a better future outcome, after all, that’s why we invest the time to plan, dream and define what we want.
We construct a picture of what we want the future to create. The more detail we put into the vision and the plan, the clearer it becomes. When we make the plan about something we personally value and want to achieve, we create motivation and “pull” towards that future.
However, when it comes to doing the work it’s a different story.
At the core, humans are easily motivated by instant gratification. Often we act against our own long-term interests by avoiding what might not be fun or doing what feels better right now.
You know it because you deal with it every day with your clients.
We don’t make time to do the work or, when we do, we end up prioritising some other piece of work instead. The end result is what needs to happen doesn’t get done.
This is one of the common reasons clients tell me they sought out to work with a coach but, equally importantly, why just having a clear vision and plan isn’t enough.
It needs to be accompanied by a methodology for making it happen.
I hope this little dive into how I approach planning and the vital elements to include.
In summary, it’s a perfect time of year to sit down make sure you’re clear on why you’re on the path you are, so you’re motivated by the outcome you’re trying to achieve and it’s the right one for you.
To ensure you know exactly what to focus on to make progress towards that over the next 12 months.
However, it doesn’t stop there. If you haven’t sat down and thought about:
- how you’ll track your progress when you’re going to do things,
- the tasks that need to be done
- the kind of micro-commitments needed to turn the plan into reality,
- ensuring that your best future intentions translate into taking action in the moment,
…this could be the missing piece to making 2022 Your best year ever!
PS. March is nearly upon us, and we’ll be closing enrolments for The Leveraged Advice Firm program. If you like what you’ve read, it’s just the beginning of how I reckon I can make 2022 an easier, faster and more successful ride.
The first step is to map it out and work out whether we can get the outcome you need. Book an initial discussion here.