Do NOT make a New Year Resolution... Make a Plan.
Updated: Jul 26
12 Things NOT TO DO...
Do NOT make a New Year Resolution... Make a Plan
After reading many messages from all of you in the last year, I noticed a common theme among the questions. There were a group of topics I just wanted to answer by saying, "That is the WRONG question!" But without context my answer would not make sense. So I decided to take the 12 most common misunderstood items, and set you straight on the correct direction. My hope is that these clarifications will help you achieve balance and happiness. Here we go.
In this series, 12 Things NOT TO DO... if you want to find happiness, balance, and success, I may make some statements that seem to fly in the face of normal teaching. My main reason for doing this is to “shock”, or to cause some mental “distortion” to the system of speech we use, and get your brain thinking a bit different. If you don’t want the life, results, etc... of what 95% of people have, then you need to think, speak, and act differently that those 95%. That begins with NOT speaking the same ol’ cliche’s like “My New Years Resolution is”… Instead I challenge you to replace that with “My plan for this year is”. In this first installment we will be discussing what a PLAN actually is, and how to create one. Let's get started.
What is a Plan?
The 4 main components of a plan are:
1. A Goal or a set of Goals.
2. The method for how you “desire” to reach those goals. (idea/resources)
3. A written out plan of actions for you to take, that will achieve those goals. (actions/timeframes)
4. A set of metrics, to make sure you stay on track with your plan (rules for adjustments)
Tip: Write It Down
The first thing I will mention is your plan MUST be written. It can be typed later, but it MUST be down on paper first. Having a plan on paper, something tangible that you can touch, see, read, refer to etc… has been a time-proven best practice for people that achieve their goals. This goes for more than just a life plan or business plan. Write out all your goals, desires, aspirations, LIV-list items, etc.. You have between 50% and 90% more chances of achieving your desired outcomes in all areas of life if you write them down.
DISCLAIMER: Yes, you can do it electronically. After I write out my plans and ideas on paper I do transfer them to my laptop & iPhone. BUT you will find a whole different level of creativity if you use the old pen and paper first. Trust me. There is something different that takes place in your brain. I bring a simple notepad in a leather binder with a pen everywhere. No more, no less. Once I transfer items to digital files, I have access to them at all times via Apple Notes or Pages so i can view them on my phone. I refer to them regularly. So to be clear, for those of you who are tech inclined, as long as you are disciplined in using your tech, yes you can use it to replace paper and whiteboards “in the end”.
I will also say however, that I and my teams STILL do use actual whiteboards for brainstorm planning sessions. There is something very inspirational that occurs when 2 or more people meet and put things up visually and discuss them. It can now be done remotely where the “whiteboard” itself is electronic and visible to people in different locations, but writing it all in real time, conversing with people in real time, and altering the written plans and ideas is simply a superior process to doing everything in a computer alone.
Ok, now that we have determined that we are going to ALWAYS write out our goals, ideas, desires, methods, and the plan to reach them lets dial in on the 4 ingredients to a Plan.
goal /ɡōl/ noun
The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.
A goal can simply be defined as your desired “End Result”.
You may have an unlimited number of goals, although for the purposes of one year,
I would stick to 10 or less so that you can create a realistic plan to achieve them.
Your goals should span the areas of your life you truly wish to improve this year,
and be things you are willing to give your thought, time, money, and actions to.
Some suggested areas would be:
- Be a better Son, Daughter, Father, Mother, Partner, Friend.
- Eliminate Debt
- Achieve something in career (position, salary, security)
- Cross off one or more items from your Liv-List (better name for bucket list).
- Be Happier
- Help Others
No matter what your areas are that you choose, I would keep this plan to 10 total
goals for a single year. Those could be all in one category, or spread across a spectrum.
The first step in creating your plan is to write out your goals for the year. Do that now, then move on to Step 2.
2. How to reach your goals. (ideas)
This is a step many people gloss over. They skip directly to writing out the plan. That is a HUGE mistake and one that keep millions of people from achieving their desired outcomes in life. Allow me to explain.
There are MANY ways to achieve a goal. For example let’s say your goal is to earn a certain amount of money this year. We’ll say 80k. And last year you made 60k. Ok, there are many ways for you to create this extra 20k. You could move up the ladder at your current career. You could start a 2nd or 3rd job. You could start a side business. You could leave your career all together and go to a higher paying line of work.
Here is the important part:
Which one of these solutions will make you the most happy?
Life is a series of moments. It is your choice to have the maximum amount of happy moments or not. Meaning you can not control all of what happens to you, and there will be negative, however if you take an inventory of every second, of every day your alive, you ‘ll be shocked at how many of those moments you DO control. So back to the point, you need to give serious thought about this. We’re talking about how you’re going to spend many of those moments in this next year trying to achieve your goals.Doesn’t it make sense to “choose” to do work you like, to enjoy the pursuit of your desires? Of course it does.
"Doesn’t it make sense to “choose” to do work you like, to enjoy the pursuit of your desires? Of course it does."
The reason many people fail in reaching their desired outcomes is the journey itself becomes so unpleasant, they quit. Put simply, the cost they must pay to achieve the desired outcome became too high. The ironic thing is THEY CHOSE THE COST in the first place. Many times without thinking about it. So now you can see why it’s CRUCIAL that you really think about the various paths to your goal, and choose the one you think will bring you the most joy and fulfillment along the journey.
Additionally you need to consider the resources it will take to make this idea work. Those resources may include money, information, learning, relationships/introductions, travel, accommodations, classes etc... Whatever the items are that you will need to make your idea work are the "Resources".
So take your time here, think about the "how" or method you want to pursue each individual goal, write that down, then write down any resources you can think of that the method will require. Do that now, then move to Step 3.
This is the second item that causes most people to fail in achieving their pursuits.
I have learned this lesson, like most people, the hard way. You need to regularly and consistently take a step back and look at your progress. You need to be able to do this objectively and honestly. You need to see where you are succeeding at your action plan, where you are not succeeding, then create any adjustments needed in your actions or method that will correct the problem. This can be challenging due to the fact that we all have ego’s and are taught by society not to admit when we’re wrong.
"Set timeframes to meet each part of your goal. Review your actions and results. Write down all the outcomes as if you were reporting to a boss or a board of directors."
We all have fear, which can cause us to be leery of changing a plan mid-stream, even if the plan is not working. (I’m always surprised at the large number of failures I see around me each year in both business and relationships, where people KNEW it wasn’t working, but rather than change their actions, they rode that failing rocket straight into the ground). Don’t be that person. Set a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule to review your plan. Set timeframes to meet each part of your goal. Review your actions and results. Write down all the outcomes as if you were reporting to a boss or a board of directors. Ask these questions:
Are you still focused on the original goal?
Are you still working within your original idea structure?
Are you taking the exact Actions you wrote down?
Are you meeting the goals you set?
If the answer is no to any of these, you need to honestly admit and determine why, WRITE IT DOWN, and write down in your plan the necessary steps to change it and get back on track. Example: If your not taking the actions, refocus yourself and use self-discipline to take them. If you are taking action, but the results are not what you thought they would be, redefine your actions and see if you can bet better results. If you have left your idea structure (because some other opportunity caught your eye) either get back on track, or amend your plan to include the new idea instead.
In the end two things matter.
2. Your happiness along the way.
ONLY MAKE CHAGES TO YOUR PLAN WITH THESE TWO THINGS IN MIND
4. Write a Plan of Action
Now once you have decided on a goal, and an idea on how you want to achieve that goal, and the metrics you're going to use to measure your progress, it is time to write it all down, and add details to it. We will call your goals and ideas the skeleton, and the Plan the flesh that we put on the skeleton. (thus the phrase “Let’s flesh that idea out”) Meaning let’s put details to the ideas so that we know exactly what actions to take. Here is the simplest method to putting “meat on the bones” of your ideas and turning it into a real action plan. Follow these 2 simple steps.
1. Write out each individual goal
a. Write out the method (idea) your using to reach the goal
b. List the Actions you'll need to take for your method. Include a list of Resources.
c. Create your Metrics including benchmarks, timeframes for this goal
2. Repeat for the next goal.
When you have these details for all your goals you have a real plan for the year.
Now it is VITAL that you put the ACTIONS in your daily colander, put the REVIEW dates in your calendar, and get to work. Do the tasks, review your progress, make adjustments and JUST KEEP WORKING THE PLAN. Do not give up. It WILL get tough. But if you stick with the method, adjust as needed, and put in the effort over time, you will reach your goals.