Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If You Don't PLAN, You Don't Maximize Success

One of the most important of the 10 "P's" is the process of PLANNING.  Planning is what gives your association, or life, the sense of organization.  It allows you to work through each facet that can impact you, and prepare for it.  Remember, you need to quit planning for a future you cannot predict, and start planning for the future you WANT!  It's a totally different mindset when you pursue what you want.  Most people wonder around lost in disbelief because they can't predict the future, and forget they actually have control of many things that can help them achieve their purpose.

The key to any plan is to have it written down someplace.  If it's written down, you can be held accountable to it.  A plan without accountability is no plan at all.

When looking at your plan over time, you need to see three things:

1) Where did I want to be,
2) Where am I, and
3) A plan of attack to make up the difference quickly if there is a gap.

The problem with any planning in life or business, is many do not write them down, leaving them to wing it.  A year later, they are wondering why they are still in the same place spinning their wheels.

The key is to make a plan, write it down, and ask the three questions above throughout the plan.

Your plan should be specific enough to keep you on course towards your purpose, but agile and flexible enough to take on new opportunities that may allow you to reach your purpose quicker, or in a way you never thought possible.

There are lots of different planning styles and programs...I frankly think they over-complicate the process.  You spend 8-hours analyzing what you could have found out in about 3-hours.  After years of going through many different planning styles, I've boiled it down to a few simple steps.  I use this in both my personal life, as well as, our association planning.  Here are the steps:

Step One:  Identify Your Threats to Achieving Your Purpose

On your journey of achieving your purpose, various obstacles are going to get in the way.  They may be the economy, an ineffective boss, divorce, or a competitor.   Regardless of what they are, you need to identify what those threats are, and then determine whether they are controllable or uncontrollable.  If they are uncontrollable, write down what you should do as a contingency if it were to occur.  If it is controllable, this is where you want to put your real effort.  I have found in my life, most people are so worried about what they can't control, they forget to be 100% effective and focused in what they can control.

Step 2:  Identify the Resources You Have At Your Disposal to Achieve Your Purpose

These are the tools you will use to overcome the obstacles in step 1, and take advantage of opportunities that come your way.   Resources may be your job, your network of people,  or training you are involved in.  After you have a full list of resources, brainstorm what resources you need to acquire to be more effective at achieving your mission for life, or your association.  Once you have this full list, you have all the tools you need to be successful.

Step 3:  Ask Yourself Three Questions:
  1. What am I doing now that I should be doing differently?
  2. What I am not doing that I should be doing?
  3. What am I doing that I should stop doing because it's done?

After deciding what your purpose in life or business is, performing these three simple steps helps to keep you on track with minor adjustments, as opposed to waking up one day and having to create radical change because you let yourself go adrift.

I want to make one final point on planning in the area of life...this is soooo important.  I think everyone should have a plan in the areas of physical health, emotional development, spiritual growth, and financial accumulation.  I want to end on the financial accumulation issue because it is a biggie.  Many people think the illustrious notion of retirement, "just happens."  They spend their entire life having fun, and then wake up at 60 with the reality that they don't have enough saved to quit working, or have the option to enjoy life.  I want you to take a close look at the following chart.  It represents the four stages of life.  Stage one is childhood through college.  Stage two is mid 20's and early marriage.  Stage three is your mid 30's though retirement.  Stage four is actual retirement.  You spend your entire life pushing the ball of savings up the hill hoping to get to the final stage and retire.  The data at the social security office tells us that of all adults who reach 25 years of age, 69% of those people will have their ball roll all the way back down the hill at age 65, and have to depend on others for one or more of housing, healthcare, transportation, and food.

I want to highly highly encourage everyone reading this post to take the time to sit down NOW and access your financial risk plan.  Things that cause the ball to roll backwards include divorce, daughter's weddings, unexpected disability/death, taxes, job change, being fired, etc.  These are all "threats" to your idea of retirement in the future.  The earlier you put a plan in place, the less expensive it is to cover the risk and do something about it.  If you want to have a $50,000 a year income at 65, you need at least $1,000,000 in the bank.  Are you on target to have a million in savings at age 65.  If not, get serious now about a plan.

Don't let another day go by without putting some thought into where you are, where you want to be, and a plan to make up the gap if one exists.   When you are in the second half of your life, you will very happy you did.

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