A method to plan your year, and accomplish those goals

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<p>This isn’t going as planned</p>

This isn’t going as planned

kwl - https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwl/6458495675

While many of us would like to believe that we can win at life by flying by the seat of our pants, that’s not the truth for 99% of the world. Most of us need a goal and then a real plan which we execute to even come close to the goals we want to hit.

So how do you start to plan that ideal year you want? Here is the method I’ve used for years to plan a successful six figure business.

Know your ideal life

To define your ideal life there are two great exercises I recommend. First off there is the 4 Quadrants of your ideal life.

To do this, take a standard piece of paper and fold it in half top to bottom then side to side. You should be left with 4 rectangles outlined on the page. Make each one of these rectangles an area of your life like Business or Family and then under it write bullet points about how you want that area of your life to be in 5 years.

The second great exercise you need to start with is your 5 year essay. For this one you write an essay describing exactly what all aspects of your life look like in 5 years. Where do you live? How much do you earn? What do your clients do and where do they live? What does your job look like?

Get as specific as possible with this essay and don’t worry if it bears little resemblance to reality at first. The point is to start with the dream and then work to engineer your life so that it can keep taking steps towards that dream.

The reason that any great goal planning session starts with these two exercises is that without them you’re likely to build something you don’t like. While I could use my development skills to build software tools for sale, that would also mean that I have to spend time doing software support at any hour it’s needed. I know that doesn’t fit in to my ideal life profile so I don’t build software that needs that type of support.

Having these 4 Quadrants and your 5 Year Essay around regularly means that you can always hold up the business prospects that come your way against the ideals and see what fits and what is a great idea, but isn’t for you.

Deal with the year

Once you have your ideal life defined it’s time to start looking at your goals for the year. This is where we set a new income goal or plan to take 10 extra days of vacation or to workout three times a week.

Note that I didn’t say more vacation days or that you’d “get in shape”. Those are both way to ambiguous. In theory you could loose a pound and be in better shape. Saying that you’re going to work out 3 days a week means you build a habit of working out.

A great question to ask yourself with each goal is:

What would it take to 10x my business?

So if you’re making 100k a year, what would the goals need to be to make 1 million in the next 12 months? The reason this question is so powerful is that it forces some real change in your business.

Making an extra $20k in a year is often as easy as doing more work the same way. Making an extra $900k in a year means a revamp of everything you do. It means you can’t just do the same thing, but better. You have to rethink your strategy to hit that big audacious goal.

Deal with the quarters

Once you’ve got your big picture year goals set, it’s time to break them down in to quarters. So that 1 million a year means you need to earn $250k a quarter.

Don’t get stuck in the trap of most people and just watch that big goal sit far off in the future as a big huge goal. By breaking it down in to smaller chunks you can put concrete plans in to place to achieve it.

I spend most of my time focused on hitting the quarter goals actually. They’re small enough that you can make changes and see how they affect your progress. Three months is a great way to take little test steps towards your goals.

Set up your months

Once you have your goals broken down in to quarters it’s time to look at the months. If your goal for the first quarter is to launch a book then you say that your January goal is to do the research. February is to write the book and March is all about getting the cover, editing and marketing plan together so you can launch the book at the end of the month.

Then at the end of every month you step back and look at the goals you had and what happened with them. If you didn’t meet them you know that you either need to make big changes to the next month goals so you can still hit the quarter plan, or you’re going to need to change the plan for the quarter to reflect reality.

Weeks

Your weekly plan is where the goals become proper tasks. If you’re launching that book and January is research month, you know that in the first week you need to compile the big list of resources you need for the project.

Week 2 is where you weed them down to the most important 2 or 3 you can deal with.

Week 3 is where you go through those resources and week 4 is where you identify and fill any holes you have with the research material you picked.

If you’re planning on reading 52 books in a year that means you need to be able to say that you read a book each week.

You have to have a big vision and take very small steps to get there. You have to be humble as you execute but visionary and gigantic in terms of your aspiration. In the Internet industry, it’s not about grand innovation, it’s about a lot of little innovations: every day, every week, every month, making something a little bit better. – Jason Calacanis

As Calacanis says, weeks is where you take those small steps and if you have a misstep, you can see it happening and set a new plan in place to still hit the monthly goals.

Review

I’ve said a few times that by breaking your tasks down in to the smaller bits you can identify where you’re missing the mark and adjust. That means you need to review your goals though.

Doing a regular review is where most people fall down with their goal routines. They set big goals and then never review the progress they need to make to hit their goals.

A solid review process means that every Friday you evaluate your week and see if it’s on track. Every month you review the month and make sure you’re still on track to hit the quarterly goals. Every quarter you review the goals and make sure they are feeding in to the big yearly goals.

Without doing this review you have little hope of hitting your goals.

If you’re looking to hit your goals for the year, then make sure you use this method to break them down in to actionable steps you can review. Without that process, you’ve just got dreams written down.

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