In my last two posts, we’ve looked at what success is and what your vision for success might be.
And it’s easy to think and dream about what you’d like to achieve. The harder part is attaining it.
Some people pick a goal and charge off after it.
Others, don’t know where to start and have goals they’d love to achieve but never do.
While there a group of people who just seem to achieve what they want. It doesn’t (usually) happen overnight, but they get there.
Their secret? They make a plan.
Here is where you groan as I mention the old saying from Benjamin Franklin – “if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
However, it’s true.
Winging it and luck only gets you so far. If you genuinely want to be successful, then you need to plan.
But why is having a plan or a fundamental part of success?
Why You Need a Plan
Imagine what your house would look like if the builder had tried to build it without a plan.
One of my previous businesses was a construction company that built million dollar homes.
Clients would come to us wanting their dream home. That was their goal.
Our first step was to take that goal and create a concept plan. We’d often work with an architect to develop a vision of what our clients’ dream home would look like. How many storeys? Bedrooms? A pool? What style of home?
The architect would pull everything together into a visual design, which they’d go through with our clients. To make sure it matched what the client wanted, they’d make changes to get the concept right. We’d also discuss the budget to make this concept a reality. If the cost to build their home was out of their budget, we’d revise the concept until we had a concept plan that would achieve their goal of creating a dream home and met their budget and other constraints.
They might have wanted a million dollar dream home but, because their budget was $750,000, we altered the goal to a $750k dream home.
With the vision and concept plan set, the next step was the working drawings.
These are the plan for building the dream home. It’s the “how” – covering everything from dimensions to materials and the different contractors that would be needed.
These steps also needed to be sense checked and approved by the council before we could make a start.
Now that we’ve got our plan, we can get to work. It’s action time, and there needs to be a project manager to keep everything on track. Focus and attention to detail are crucial, and there’s also a possibility that the plan may need to change along the way.
The final step is the end result – a brand new, finished dream home for our clients to move into.
An outcome that wouldn’t have been possible without every step of the process – including a plan.
And it’s the same for absolutely anything you want to achieve – whether it is building a house, starting a business, or running a marathon – if you’ve done your planning you’re already more than halfway to your goal.
Start with Your Goals
You’ll notice, when we built a dream home for someone, the plan comes roughly in the middle of the process.
That’s because you need to know your goals and vision first.
Knowing these gives you a starting point for your plan, and it’s important to break them down and quantify them.
Wanting a dream home is a pretty broad goal. A million dollar dream home is better but still too broad. That is why we (and the architect) spent time understanding what “dream home” means to our clients and breaking it down into all the components that make up a house – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, indoor/outdoor flow, for example.
Use SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound) to create your goals and then create your vision – what does your dream home look like?
Review and assess it. For a myriad of reasons, it was rare that the home, once it was built, looked exactly like the concept drawings – there were always alterations along the way.
The point is, if there’s a good reason, there should be flexibility. You might have the goal to turn over a million dollars in your business this year, and then COVID happened. It’s still possible, but it might take a little longer, and you might have to achieve it in a slightly different way.
“Achievable” is one of the SMART criteria that is easy to forget. You make a big hairy audacious goal and then charge off after it without working out it is achievable or not.
This year, I wanted to open Attain’s international offices. However, until borders start to reopen, I can’t. This goal isn’t achievable right now, so I’m working on other goals that are – like Attain World.
With my construction company, we had to take our client’s vision and goal of a dream home and turn it into a goal and vision that was achievable with their budget.
Once you’ve got your goals sorted, now you’re ready to plan.
Plan Your Actions
Your plan is how you’re going to achieve your goal and vision. It breaks down to a series of actions that you need to do to get from where you are now to where you want to be.
It’s a journey, and your plan will tell you how to get to or achieve your goal.
Where should your plan start? At the end – with your goal already achieved.
We always started with our concept plan of what the home would look like first and then worked out how we’d build it.
So, work your way back from your vision, breaking the journey into milestones. These milestones are goals in their own right which, when achieved, will help you on your way to achieving your big, overall goal.
Each milestone will have steps or actions that are need for you to get there.
Once you’ve worked these out, you’ve got the structure of your plan.
Now it’s time to fill in the detail – milestones need to meet the SMART criteria, and your actions must have a time associated with them. When will you do them?
With our working drawings completed, an essential part of our process was submitting our plan to the council for approval. Who do you know in the areas that your actions, milestones, and goals fall that could review your plan or parts of it?
If you’re going to follow your plan, it doesn’t hurt to get someone else to sense check it.
When you’re finished, you’ll have a plan that will get you to where you want to go.
If you don’t have a plan, you’ll struggle to achieve success.
It really is the only way to achieve what you want to achieve. Start with your goals, work out your vision, then make a plan on how to get there.
To create the plan, work back from your goals, put in milestones you need to hit, and actions you need to take.
Importantly, as the military adage goes, “no plan survives contact with the enemy” (Helmuth von Moltke the Elder), your plan will need to be adjusted and tweaked as you go along.
It is hard to alter something you don’t have! So, even though you know there will be changes, you need to have one.
Now that you have your plan, next month we’ll cover the one critical step you need to do to achieve success.
Sharn Piper – CEO
M: +64 27 733 4333