One thing I’ve long known that I’m terrible at is planning. I find it to be one of the worst chores that I have, which means I end up not doing it. But this likely becomes the number one reason I fall into ruts, since I’m not constantly figuring out my next move. By not understanding where I will go next, I simply let fate decide for me, which is never smart.
Part of the reason I’ve always hated planning was because I’ve never understood how to do so. It was a foreign concept to me. Why should I write down a list of to-dos? Won’t that just add more tasks to my plate? Isn’t it just busy work that won’t move me, my career or my personal growth forward? Yet, when I don’t plan, I get stuck in the present, trying to decide what should I do next, and end up with analysis paralysis. So something has to give.
While in Austin, I met with a contact of mine, Brad Closson. He helps run a social media agency, which you can check out here, but he also has some great insight into planning (it’s what he does regularly, after all). Using his past experiences of planning for Fortune 500 companies, he’s learned how to articulate them for himself or others. And while in Austin, he showed me how I could also develop my own plan. He had three tips that really stood out to me as I listened:
- Keep It To One-Page: You don’t want to get overwhelmed with ideas. You want to focus on what you need to accomplish over the next year to make your business more successful or you more happy.
- Develop Specific Goals That Can Be Tracked: This one I’ve seen before, but it never really hit home. A lot of people say “I want more money this year.” But that doesn’t mean anything. Have specific growth targets for whatever you want to achieve. Maybe it’s “I want to make $10,000 more this year than last.” Now, you have clear goal in mind that you can set benchmarks each month to ensure you reach that goal.
- Sub-Bullet How To Reach That Goal: Once you have the goals, include sub-bullets for each one, outlining specific tasks on what you can do to reach that goal. So if you want more money, it wouldn’t be ‘get more clients.’ It instead, it would include what you can do each day, week or month to get more clients, like ‘attend three networking events each month.’ That way you’re setting a sub-goal that can help you achieve the larger goal.
Based on Brad’s recommendations, I’m designing my year and month. This is something I”m going to do moving forward, for the foreseeable future, to test whether it will help improve my ability to avoid wasting time.
In order to do this, I’m breaking my one-page plan into three parts:
- Business Goals – This will deal with my content strategy/blogging side of my business. And will focus on how to grow this presence throughout the year (since that’s the end goal, besides just the enjoyment of writing on this topic)
- Writing Goals – Since I also work in journalism and want to finish a book, these goals will focus on increasing my opportunities for publishing my work
- Personal Goals – It’s not all about the bottom line, and I need to make sure there’s balance in my life. It’s one reason I work for myself, and important no matter what I do in the future. This section will ensure I can grow personally as well
If you want to join me in planning, then let me know in the comments section. I’m happy to listen to your ideas and offer any tips on how you might want to move forward. Check back next week, when I publish my set of goals for the year!