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Are you "planning" to succeed?

“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

Victor Hugo
French dramatist, novelist, & poet


With the constant demands on today’s leaders it’s hard to keep chaos from happening.  So what’s the secret to finding work/life balance while still climbing the mountain of success as a small business owner?


Sorry.  I don’t have the secret.  I wish it were that easy.  If only it were just a secret that once found it could cure all our woes and…poof…everything would be perfect.  However, the answer is practical and it’s one that’s been in front of us for decades.  Unfortunately, we just don’t do it often enough.  In simple terms, keeping a balanced life always has been and always will be a matter of self discipline and dependent upon a leader’s ability to plan his/her work in order of priority and then to work that plan continuously until the ultimate scenario has been reached.  If this process is systemized and continuous everything will get done on time and chaos will soon disappear never to raise its ugly head again.


Michael Gerber, author of the best selling book eMyth, states “there’s only one thing people do predictably and it’s that they’ll act unpredictable.”  When we have a sustainable plan and system that we follow each and every day we will find more predictable results and we will carry out the steps that will enable us to reach our ideal situation or ultimate scenario in every area of our life.


What’s Your Plan?

To ensure your success in managing all the variables of a busy personal life it’s best to step back and create a plan to guide your actions (and the actions of your team if applicable) to keep focused on the desired result.  Here are a couple of steps you can take to regain your focus and better manage your priorities:


Step 1: Create Your Personal LIFE Plan (Try FREE for 30 days)

Are you clear what you want to BE, DO and HAVE?  If not, stop and begin to clarify what you’d like your life to look like three to five years from today.  Be specific as to what you’d like to improve in your career, education, relationships, financial, health, fun, legacy and spiritual life. 


To spend our time in the most effective and efficient places we must clarify what it is in life that would really do it for us and then begin working towards those goals and dreams we’ve set before us.  Once you’ve established what it is that you’d like to be, do and have in life you will have the focus to align your talents, skills and abilities to begin fulfilling your dreams and goals each and every day.  You can then build specific action plans to delegate the tasks and responsibilities that are holding you back from living the life you ultimately want to live.


Step 2: Create Your TIME Plan

An effective time plan is a simple way of designing what I call the “Perfect Week”.  Vince Lombardi, one of the most notable coaches in the history of the National Football League, used to tell his team “We strive for perfection and we end up with excellence”.  Planning your “Perfect Week” begins by establishing non-negotiable time in your weekly (or monthly schedule) for each of the areas you’d like to improve in your life and in your business. 


By blocking out specific sections of your day/week/month for family/relationships, health/fitness activities and for specific business development time you’ll begin to fill your schedule with the activities that mean the most to you (and your business).  This process has provided our coaching clients with a systematic way of managing their most important activities and nearly guaranteeing their highest level of performance when the plan is followed.


This time blocking activity allows a leader the opportunity to schedule their priorities into a calendar and begin to create a success system for them to operate from so nothing slips through the cracks.  It also gives a leader the understanding that they cannot do everything and that they must make a conscious decision about what activities to take on and what decisions they need to pass on.


To create your time plan download this time management resource.  Now, breakdown your time in 30 minute increments (i.e. 5am, 5:30am, 6am) and begin filling out each block with a priority that you need to make happen to live out your “Perfect Week”.  Once completed you should have time in your plan for every important activity that needs to take place in your personal and professional life.  Now, print this document out and place it in a place where you can resource it throughout your day.  It may also be helpful to transfer the information from this table into your everyday planner (i.e. Outlook, Day Planner, etc.) so you can schedule around the appointments you’ve set for yourself.


Step 3: Create Your BUSINESS Plan (download sample plan here)

Most business owners and sales executives understand the importance of having a business plan but they seldom take the time to make it a part of their regular routine to complete each of the aspects of the plan and to review it on a systematic basis.  A solid business plan needs to include these five core elements:


Vision Statement – What does your business look like 5 or 10 years from today?

Mission Statement – What you aim to achieve that is not quantifiable.

Financial Goals – What are the income and expense goals of your organization?

Marketing Plan – Who are your marketing targets and what strategies will you use?  

Operations Plan – Who does what, when and how?


To create structure and predictable results you must have a clear understanding of each of these elements and be able to communicate them with your team effectively (if applicable).  Where most most fall short is in the area of operations.  Because they fail to give this section of their plan structure they tend to spend more non-income producing time in this area of their business.  The Operations section of the business plan is where you organize the workflow, the responsibilities of each team member and define your personal expectations for each activity.


Although this process sounds tedious it is all important to the building of a team and to ensure that team operates at peak performance levels.  Once a staff member understands the Vision and Mission of the team they must also have clarity as to what’s expected of them.  This can be accomplished by simply laying out a clear job description of what each team member is responsible for as it relates to their position.  A simple job description includes:


1)   an overview of the position

2)   a breakdown of the responsibilities and the expectations of the team leader

3)   the duties required to fulfill the responsibilities and expectations

4)   the process in which the duties are to be fulfilled


The Operations Plan also lays out a foundation for how performance evaluations will be handled and the days in which these will take place.  Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, was recently asked what the secret was to his success in business and he responded “I had the very best people on my team and I gave them a performance review each and every quarter to let them know where they stood in the company.” 


So the question is do you have great team members and are you giving your team regular and consistent feedback on their performance?  Jack Welch did not have a bureaucratic performance review process every quarter.  What he did was he made sure he took the time to tell his direct reports what he liked about what they were doing and what he didn’t like.  A simple process to make sure everyone on his team was headed in the right direction and doing the right thing each and every day.  When advisors get their team focused on what is expected and required from them and it’s in writing there are very little problems that arise.  When their team is unfocused it tears apart the team and everyone loses.


Next Steps to Create Order in Your Life

To better manage your personal and professional life it pays to create a plan.  Take a moment right now and block out some time this week (or month) to step back and establish a Life Plan, a Time Plan and a Business Plan.  If you’ve already got a plan for each of these then get back into it and transfer the responsibilities you’ve laid out for yourself and your team into a systematic implementation process and watch your business and your personal life begin to soar and all your biggest goals and dreams come into reality.