Whenever there’s a new month, there should be a new plan.
With a fresh month, you’ve got 20 or so whole working days in front of you.
You weren’t thinking of just winging it, were you 😉?
You already know this, but “winging it” is not how you achieve your goals. That’s not how you’ll finish this year a success.
People who wing it often wonder how they worked so hard and yet don’t find themselves where they want to be.
On the other hand, high-achievers use every new month as an opportunity to do two things:
☝🏻Measure their progress against their goals to see where they stand.
✌🏻Plan another month of tasks they can finish to stay on track and, if possible, get ahead.
Pictured below is a simple chart with each yearly goal broken down into one-month increments. Every month you chart actual progress vs. anticipated progress.
Nothing sophisticated. Nothing special. Just a way to evaluate how close you are to achieving your goals on any given month.
Even if it’s late in the year, it’s not too late to start.
I have a client who started planning in September for the end of the year. We broke out each of the 14 weeks remaining and are planning his goals against them now. I have another client who follows a more agile approach, using a Kanban system we defined to consistently make progress toward her big vision for life.
Whatever and whenever it may be, here’s the takeaway...
Don’t just wing it next month. Take a few minutes (today) to do a quick spot-check of where you stand vs. your goals. You’ll use that info for planning; it will help you know what you need to do in the coming month.
Spot check your progress against your goals
You can’t get to where you’re going unless you know where you are (I literally just made this up, but feel like someone famous probably already quoted it like 300 years ago 😁).
With that in mind, we can now follow a few simple steps to complete your planning for the month:
1️⃣ Set a goal for the end of the month... one that aligns with your goal for the year. Where do you need to be at the end of the month such that you’ll be on track to succeed at the end of the year?
2️⃣ Set week-end milestones. In other words, where do you need to be at the end of each week such that you can achieve your goal at the end of the month?
3️⃣ Plan your next week. Figure out what you need to do each day in this upcoming week to achieve your week-end milestone.
Start with your yearly goal, break it down into monthly milestones, break that into weekly milestones, then set action for every day of the week so you can meet your weekly milestones and, in turn, meet your monthly milestones which, in turn, will help you achieve your yearly goal.
Next, I’ll walk through my habit tracker. It’s the way I make my goals 10x easier to achieve.
10x Your Success Rate with Habit Tracking
Set your goal and work towards it. Simple, right?
Not so fast.
If you can achieve your goal easily—without challenge or without learning anything new—you haven’t set a good goal.
Take money, for example.
Making the same amount as the year before is a goal, but probably not a good one. It’s not challenging. It doesn’t drive growth. As such, many entrepreneurs set a goal to make more.
They don’t know how they’re going to do it at first (if they did, they would already be rolling in gold coins like Scrooge McDuck from the Duck Tales intro). As such, they need to do one of two things:
☝🏻 Work harder
✌🏻 Learn something they didn’t know before
Most entrepreneurs I know are already operating at maximum capacity, which leaves option two, and brings me to the point of this post:
While learning something new can be a goal, self-improvement is often a means to an end. Further, it is full of unknowns, making it hard to develop a specific set of actionable steps to get from point A to point B by a certain time.
In other words, it’s hard to plan and schedule self-improvement. So instead of planning and scheduling, you should track.
The pic shown above is a habit and skills tracker. Every day, you track the habits and skills that are necessary to achieving your goals. Each box is a simple yes/no test.
Need to learn marketing? Make it a daily habit to read a copywriting book.
If you can answer “yes, I read some copywriting today,” fill in the box.
If you answer “no,” the box will stare blankly back at you for eternity... or at least until the end of the month when the tracker is refreshed to a clean state.
It’s amazing how quickly the days get away, and having little blank boxes with unattended habits shows you that you’ve stopped learning and growing. Those blank boxes all but force you to do better tomorrow.
Consider, in your monthly planning, listing the skills you believe you will need to achieve your goals. Then, set habits to learn those skills and track them with a habit tracker like the one shown here.
Juggling All The Balls
I’d never seen anything so impressive, so other worldly, so superhuman.
Cirque du Soleil has plenty of incredible feats, but left me as awestruck as The Juggler.
If you’ve tried juggling, you know how hard it is. When I taught myself how, I started with two balls in one hand, then three balls in two. I can do it, but only for about 10 seconds. After that I lose control, and anybody standing nearby is in danger of getting hit in the eye.
The Juggler however, starts with two balls, adds a few more, then even more until he’s got seven, maybe nine balls flying through the air like a troop of crazed monkeys having a snowball fight.
Whenever I think of my work and life, this image of The Juggler comes to mind: one ball for each company, one for every project, a ball for my marriage, one for each kid, and a few others for the miscellaneous crap that comes up on any given day.
The goal is to keep all these balls in the air at all times. Drop any one of them, and something fails.
Sound about right?
The question becomes, how do you keep everything—every project, every task, every important relationship—balanced? The answer is to know, like The Juggler, where each project, task, and relationship is and and where it’s going at all times using a simple dashboard.
For every project going on in your life and work, give it a name and write it down. Under each, list the next few (just one or two) actions you need to take or the most important thing you should work on next.
Keep this dashboard with you at all times... a single sheet of paper in your notebook or in a book you’re currently reading.
Once a week, review this dashboard and update it by crossing off finished projects, checking off completed tasks, and adding one or two new actions that each project requires.
Doing so keeps everything visible so, like The Juggler, you’ll never drop a ball again.
About the Author
HUSBAND, FATHER, ENTREPRENEUR, BUSINESS STRATEGIST, AUTHOR, FITNESS NUT, ORGANIZATION FREAK, PRODUCTIVITY JUNKIE
I help high-achieving entrepreneurs organize their brain and schedule so they can organize their life and business.
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