Getting Here From There, and There From Here.
In my work as an executive coach, career counselor, and business consultant, I often work with clients that are stuck in their business planning. Simply, they are unsure how to move forward.
This is true whether they are looking to advance their career, are considering going back to school or pursue a graduate degree, or identifying opportunities to change direction in leading the organizations they created or work in.
One strategy that I employ when I work with a client is to take a step back and revisit their past.
Call it hitting the “PAUSE” button, if you like.
We revisit how they arrived at the point in time in their careers that they currently find themselves stuck in.
Specifically, we identify the strategies they used in the past that worked for them. We revisit their career/professional goals, or the business plans they created when they launched their business. The driving force behind this effort to revisit the past is to see what goals they still have not achieved, and (equally important) to identify the goals they set in the past that are no longer relevant to their future plans.
Additionally, we look to see if their own personal life goals, ethics and values have changed over time. Changing values lead to changing aspirations, hopes, dreams…and GOALS! It’s akin to re-visiting your life insurance policy, health insurance, or your tax filing status. Your life changes over time. So should your plans.
Once you complete that look back, it’s time to look ahead over the horizon.
This is one part visualization, another strategic planning. Ask yourself where you see yourself in the next 2 or 3 years. Some call this document an action plan, career road map, or visual cue board. No matter the title, the key point in this looking forward exercise is, you MUST write your plan down.
Because…a plan that is NOT written down is NOT a plan at all. It’s a dream.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself looking down the rabbit hole…
Once you document your short term goals, it’s an empowering process to identify the following:
1.) Measurable Tasks to Achieve: In order to set realistic goals, they have to be quantifiable, so you have to use numbers to tell a story. (ex. in next 3-4 months complete my 2015 marketing plan with associated budget of no more than $15,000 total spend.)
2.) Realistic Time Frames for Completion: Use specific start and end dates, with as many “WHAT-I F” scenarios. You can call this contingency planning but you need to be able to hold yourself accountable to meeting key deadlines. It helps to use the Steven Covey Time Management matrix guide of assigning TWO variables into prioritizing each task.
One factor to assess is the degree of importance/impact for each task, the other is the mount of time you have to complete a task. for example, completing a national advertising plan to launch October 1st has a tremendously high impact and a VERY short lead time. These tasks are all assigned a TOP priority.
3.) Required Resources: what will it take to complete this goal? List any/all certifications, professional Association memberships, a bank loan, hiring contract or full-time staff, etc. In order to achieve your goals you have to set aside the requisite resources in order to see them through to completion.
4.) Contingencies: Identify any and all foreseeable potential barriers, that may prevent you from competing your tasks and achieving your goals.
Once you have your revised forward-facing plan, you can begin implementing. Remember, you MUST be sure to set aside the time needed to revisit these revised goals and future plan on a regular (daily, weekly, monthly) basis.