Work your plan - Why you should write a plan for the year ahead.
And we are off…another new year has started. It is a great time to throw out the old calendar with all its notes and scribbles and replace it with something fresh and new. It is an opportunity to start with a fresh slate and a clean perspective.
The same can be true for our lives. It is often a time of resolutions and resolve, adjustments and a focus on what lies ahead.
What will 2018 bring for you? Whether you are in business or not, taking time to write a guiding plan can hugely impact the success of your world.
I have always believed in the importance of planning but I used to lack the impetus to get around to writing it down. I would plan out things in my head and have an idea of what I wanted to achieve, or, for that year to be like but it was never as successful until I wrote it out. Here are a number of reasons why I believe this to be the case:
Writing it helps clarify it
If you have ever seen a still at work, you will understand how a large drum of boiling liquid and gas is concentrated down to a small amount of intense, clear liquid. The process of distilling our thoughts down to something on paper effectively captures the essence and concentrated focus of our thoughts, desires, dreams and hopes. The process will help you understand more clearly what it is you want to achieve and to remove distractions. It can go through a number of edits and revisions, but get it down on paper!
If I am asked to speak publically, I can usually wing something, but my thoughts are always more ordered and concise if I take time to write them down first. Even if I don’t refer to them, the process of writing helps me to be more ordered and focused.
Writing it helps you communicate it
Whether you have a team or not, putting something into print puts it out there for everyone to see. It makes it real. A written plan lets everyone know you mean business and are committed to it. It gives you something to keep you on course.
I worked with a company and advised them of a strategic action that needed to happen. After about a year of me saying it, they eventually picked up on it and said, ‘this is what we need to do!’ I told them to write it down, to let all levels of staff know what this action was and why. They neglected to do it and within 4 months had deviated from it – to their detriment.
Writing it helps you choose
There are always lots of good ideas, but what often separates a great idea from the rest is timing. A written plan is an important tool in choosing where you want to invest your time and money and at what point. This process is infinitely simpler when you have already mapped out your direction. You will know if the ideas that come up will get you to where you want to go.
In planning a client’s year, the idea was floated for a rebrand. Depending on the lifecycle of a business and what activities are planned will determine whether changing image is a great idea, good idea or even a bad one. In looking what was going to happen in the year ahead, it was clear that the rebranding needed to happen first, so we jumped.
Writing it helps you commit to it
Have you ever heard of a mezuzah? Most of you probably haven’t until now but for the uninitiated, it is a Jewish tradition of writing certain important scriptures and putting them on the doorway. The purpose is to remind you of the life-guiding principals every time you pass through the door. It gets you thinking about them every day. The more you think about something, the more you speak about it. This leads to action. One of my favourite quotes from political legend, Margaret Thatcher says -
“Watch your thoughts for they become words. Watch your words for they become actions. Watch your actions for they become…habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny! What we think we become.”
Start to fulfil your destiny by writing your plan today.
Writing it helps bring change
If you have made it this far, this is probably self-evident. A clearly communicated written plan will keep you on track for growth, change and success. It is not always in ways we expect either.
My son had fallen on the wrong side of the tracks, messed up his life, and left home. We didn’t see him for months. A friend phoned and was believing with us for his life to improve. She told us to write in big letter ‘MIRACLES LIVE HERE’ and to put it on the fridge where we would see it every day. A little sheepishly we did what we were asked. Everyday we saw it, hoping to hear some good news. We kept it there on the fridge for everyone to see. Exactly a year later, we got a call, he phoned and asked to move back home to get his life back on track.
There is more to writing it down than can be explained – but it works.
Writing it helps you compare
We can often forget what we have managed to achieve over the year and what goals we have kicked. When they are written out, we can check them off this list. Seeing that written checklist with ticks on it shows clearly where we have been successful and where we need to reassess. Sometimes unachieved goals will be things we need to add to next year’s list and others are things to remove altogether. The sense of satisfaction of what has been achieved will provide motivation and impetus to move ahead to another year with even greater success. As Margaret Thatcher said -
‘Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.’
To help you get going, download this simple template here, fill it out and put it somewhere you can see it regularly. Then begin to work your plan!