Happy New Year – in case I haven’t said that to you already! On the theme of the New Year and New Year’s resolutions/goals/plans – have you heard the saying “When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago!”. Well, I have a new one for you. “If you don’t plant the seeds, don’t expect to harvest the crop!”
You get what I’m saying? Let me elaborate. Have you ever had a day when you have been really busy all day, but then in the evening, when you are reviewing the day, you don’t actually know what you did? Like, you didn’t achieve anything notable? Have you ever had a week like that? A month?……A year?
The reason for that is generally, that you didn’t have a plan. Or if you did have a plan, you went off track and didn’t find your way back, and then time passed and you forgot what the plan was, and were too busy to take the time to go look for it.
Well, I have news for you. If you don’t plan your life someone……someone else will. If you are employed and you don’t plan your career, your career will go just as far as your boss thinks it should and no further. If you have a great boss, lucky you, but if your boss is worried about the competition or worried about keeping their own job then don’t count on them prioritising yours.
Equally, if you run your own business and have no plan, then you will get somewhere, but that somewhere might just be a place you don’t want to be.
My friends Dad used to drive like that. He would set off with a destination in mind but no route plan of how to get there (not on a daily basis or for work I have to say, but at the weekends). He would just take whichever road he thought would get the family to their day out destination. Mostly, he was right, because his sense of direction was pretty good. Sometimes it was way out, and they would end up somewhere else completely.
Occasionally, that was a good thing, because they discovered somewhere brilliant they never would have gone, but sometimes it was a disaster. Like the day he parked up in Blackpool because he was sure they were round the next corner from the prom. And 40 minutes walking later…….he had to carry my friend back to the car (she was 5 at the time).
And even when they DID end up in the right place, it always took them a heck of a lot longer than it needed to (but then maybe that WAS part of his plan!!).
And it’s the same with planning your business or your life. If you don’t plan, then you MAY end up where you wanted to be, but it is more likely that you will end up in the wrong part of Blackpool with a long walk back to the car…..metaphorically.
And it can be even worse than that. What if you have a plan? It is a great plan, and it gets you exactly where your plan said you should be. And then you find out…. it was the wrong plan.
That happened to another friend of mine. She was running her own services business and she had a growth plan to take the business from 3 to 8 people with associated growths in revenue and profits. That plan worked and so she developed the next plan, to take the business to 20 people. And that plan failed spectacularly. The business went into liquidation.
She was devastated. Why and where had it all gone wrong? Well, it turns out she had the wrong plan. The goal was right, she did want a 20 person business with a multi million turnover, but the plan was wrong because the plan had her running that business. And she didn’t really want to.
When we examined her values, her key skills and what gave her joy, we realised that running the larger company did not fit. The right plan would have been to employ a great MD to implement the growth plans. Someone whose values, skills and enjoyment, were around managing people and process, could have made that plan work. But someone whose values were around innovation, creativity, and inspiration, should always have been in a leadership but not a management role. The structure of the company should have been with her as either CEO, or Creative Director, but definitely not as Managing Director which had sucked the energy and joy right out of her.
So how do you create the right plan? Well, firstly you need to really know and understand yourself. You need to spend time thinking about what it is you want your life to look like. I find it really interesting that THIS is the thing that most people have difficulty with. One of my mentees said to me recently “Cheryl, if I knew what I wanted my life to look like, it would already look that that”.
And they were right. Once you have decided what it is that you want and you KNOW it is the right thing, mountains just seem to shift out of the way to get you to that destination, don’t they? How much easier is it to get somewhere when you know exactly where you want to be? If you said to a friend – “I will meet you in Manchester tomorrow morning”, how likely is it you would find each other? However, if you said, “I will meet you in Manchester tomorrow morning at 11, on the corner of Oxford Road and Whitworth Street, outside the Sainsbury’s”, then it is very likely that exact thing will happen.
You see, in the latter example, you know what, when and where and can therefore plan the exact strategy, route and timings to get you there.
If you still find it difficult to decide what your goals should be for this year (and many people do), then think instead about how you want to feel at the end of this year and work back from that.
Do you want to feel excited? What would make you excited? Do you want to feel proud? What would make you feel proud? Maybe you want to feel at peace and without financial worry? What would you have to achieve this year to feel like that? This technique can really help you to come up with the right goals for you. And once you have the right goals, it is much easier to create the right plans.
But hey, you don’t have to do this stuff alone – head on over to our website or our FB page (if you are already on the website) to find out how the Find Your Why Foundation can help you create the right life plan so you can Live, Love and Laugh every day and be YOU in your own unique way.