Imagine you’re sitting in an airplane. The captain gets on the intercom and says: “Folks, we’re 2nd in line for takeoff. Where would you like to go?”
If your perfect life is the destination, don’t you want to get there as quickly, easily and cheaply as possible? Maybe you can do so without creating a business plan, but I can’t imagine how. A plan will help you make better and faster decisions, decide how you spend your money or time and track your progress.
Complete your annual plan by November so that you can relax and sit on your plan for a month or so before executing it. Review (and revise if needed) your progress quarterly. This is not a New Year’s resolution to be enacted in January and discarded by February. This is an action plan that will get you to your biggest life goals.
It’s time to focus your energy onto your goals and dreams. Find a place with trees and fresh air where you can concentrate on your future.
There are myriad ways to create your plan and they all start with a vision.
What do you want to do, be or have in 2-5 years?
What motivates you to jump out of bed in the morning, or work late into the night?
Your vision must be:
Specific- What will it look like once you’ve reached your goal? Where will you live? What will you do each day? Who will your friends, neighbors or co-workers be?
Vivid- Realism is the key to visualization so use all of your senses when describing your goal. The goal is to make your mind believe your future outcome is happening now. With consistent visualization, your mind accepts the image of success and suddenly you’re seeing inspiration and opportunity everywhere.
Compelling-How will your life (or the lives of your family members) improve once you’ve achieved your goal?
Desirable-Is this your dream or only something you think you should want? The more you want the outcome, the more likely it is you’ll achieve it. If your goal isn’t compelling, you’ll quit at the first sign of trouble.
Realistic-Do you have enough time, energy and support to reach your goal? Have others done it before? If it’s been done, there’s a proven strategy to do it, you just have to find it.
Focused- Instead of creating a to-do list, concentrate your energy on accomplishing up to 3 bigger goals.
Flexible-There are lots of ways to get to your outcome. If your goal is to provide your son with an Ivy League education instead of concentrating on just one way to get there (saving lots of money), brainstorm all the ways you could make it happen (scholarships, part-time work, etc.)
Easy to communicate- Can you describe your end result concisely in terms anyone can understand?
Close your eyes and imagine your future.
Having trouble visualizing?
Look for someone who’s already achieved your goal. What does that person’s life look like? Draw, paint a picture, or write a story as if you’re reporting on your future self. Then distill that scene, picture or story into your vision statement.
Once you’ve articulated your vision, make it real.
Step 1: Writing your goal down makes it tangible and on those days when you’re frustrated or unfocused, you can look at what you’ve written and get back on track.
The more accountable you are, the more likely it is you’ll achieve your goal. Find an accountability partner who’s committed to her own goals. Better yet, find someone who already attained your goal. Tell that person your goals and ask for help in keeping your commitments.
Step 2: Determine what it will take to get there. What skills, knowledge and resources will you need?
If you want to live in France, you’ll need to learn French (skill), find a place to live (knowledge) and save money (resources.)
Step 3: Break each task down into short-term goals you can accomplish in 1,2 or 3 months.
Write down your top 5 values in order. If your goal conflicts with your values, you’ll never achieve it.
If you’re not sure what constitutes a value, this list can help. When you commit to your values and have written goals, choosing between competing demands gets easier. As does making decisions.
Sally’s top value is family, followed by financial independence. A single mother with 2 kids, she’s been offered a job that doubles her salary but requires her to leave town every weekend. She has to either decline the job, or rerank her values.
Acknowledging your values, prioritize your short-term goals. Your goals should have a deadline as well as a tangible, measurable end-result. Set goals that are tough but realistic to achieve.
In On Writing, Stephen King compares writing to telepathy. Even though he writes every novel, short story, and magazine article in a certain place and at a certain time, you can be miles and decades away and still receive his communication clearly.
If writing is telepathy, planning and envisioning are clairvoyance. Planning your tomorrow today will bring your vision of the future to fruition.
What to learn more?
Join me on Wednesday, November 3rd at The New Orleans Marriott.