If you can dream it, you can plan it!

2021 is quickly coming to a close. Whether it is because the pandemic and lockdowns seemed to have warped the passage of time or just because of the rapid pace of business as we begin to recover, the year seems to have flown by for me. 

Whatever the reason, it brings us all back around to the start of a new year.

With 2022 only a few weeks away, now is the time for business owners to relook at their business plan, reassess goals and set action plans in place to achieve those goals. If they hope to accelerate their businesses to the next level during the year, that is. 

Ideally, this goal setting should happen at least every quarter, but year-end is an excellent time to take some time out of the business and work on strategic initiatives that will position it for sustained growth.

Plan versus Planning

Here’s a quick question, what do you think is the most valuable part of the goal-setting process, the plan itself or the planning?

The planning!

It’s the planning that gives you clarity around what it is that you need to do. The plan is the document that supports the process. 

Together, they form the roadmap to attaining our goals.

But why set goals?

I suppose the first question is, why do we want to have goals? What is a goal anyway? 

Well, a goal essentially is a dream. It all starts with a dream. You have to have an aspiration, and then you can work that back into specific goals that will take you towards your dream. 

So, your dream is the start of it all. And your goals are the milestones to get you to the dream. 

Now, why have goals? Because if you have a dream without goals, you’re just a dreamer. You’re just dreaming. Nothing’s going to happen. Nothing’s going to change. It may be a lovely dream but are you ever going to achieve it? Probably not if you’re just dreaming. 

That’s where goals come in. Unless you set goals, the milestones to take you towards your dream, then nothing’s ever going to change. 

Goal setting for Success

Think your goals into being 

When working with clients on their goals and visions for their business, I introduce them to the power of their Reticular Activating System (RAS) quite early on. 

The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of nerves at our brainstem that filters out unnecessary information so the important stuff gets through. – Desk of van Schneider

Your RAS allows you to focus on something, and then it sifts out all other irrelevant things around you and allows only the important stuff through that will boost your focus.

Well, that’s essentially what a goal is. A goal sets your reticular activating system, keeping you open to information and opportunities that will increase the likelihood of achieving your goal.

The best example I can give you is when you buy a new car. You haven’t picked it up yet. You’re still driving around in your old car and you’re looking around and you can’t see any of your new car make, model, style, colour anywhere. And you’re thinking, you know what? I am going to be the only one on the road in that new car. My car’s going to be unique. You get to the showroom in good time to pick the car up, all excited, looking great, playing with all the gadgets and off you go. And literally within five, ten minutes down the road, you see not one but eight cars just like yours! So why does that happen? 

That happens because you’re thinking about it and because you’re thinking about it, you absorb all data around you that relates to it. 

So, if you’re thinking about your car, you’re looking for it, subconsciously looking for it. And that’s what you start to see. And suddenly you think, wait a minute, everybody’s got the same car as me!

That’s why having goals is so important – to set your RAS and improve your ability to concentrate on what you want to accomplish. 

Planning for your goal

However, just having a goal is not going to help you achieve anything. Actually planning for the goal is what will make the difference. Planning also helps your mindset because if you’re walking around with just an abstract goal and dreams in your head, your head is going to be a pretty busy place. Chances are you will constantly be thinking (and worrying) about what you need to do next? What’s the next step? What do I need to do to get closer to my dream?

That’s a lot of questions taking up a lot of space in your brain. And if action isn’t taken at some point, eventually, you will get quite frustrated and pressure will build. When the pressure starts to happen, stress starts to happen. When stress starts to happen, your positive thinking starts to go, along with your motivation to succeed. 

So having a plan in place, a documented granular plan to develop your goal, will keep your mind in the right place while keeping you positive because you’ll be taking proactive movement towards your goal. 

Ensure your plan is effective

You now have your dreams; you have your goals and your plan is starting to take shape. Here are a few tips that may help you build that plan effectively:

  • Break it down – the key thing here is to make sure the plan includes a bit by bit, step by step process that will ultimately deliver on the overall dream. Break it down into bite-size chunks. What do you need to deliver, and in what order? Breaking that down into finite, manageable mini-tasks and having them in priority order is crucial to staying on track. 
  • Be realistic – don’t set yourself plans that you’re not going to be able to fulfil. Make sure your plans are realistic and achievable. It’s demotivating, not to mention a waste of time and energy, trying to achieve something that is just not feasible or even necessary. 
  • Write it down – write it down on paper so you can check back to it daily or weekly. Have regular status checks with yourself to see where you are in the plan and what you have completed so far. Tick tasks off the list and move on to the next one. And keep on moving forward. As long as you keep on moving forward, you WILL get to where your destination is. 
  • Set deadlines – If you set yourself a deadline, you’ll focus on delivering to that deadline. We like deadlines, us humans. We like the sense of victory when we win, conquering tasks and time. So set yourself deadlines to force you to move closer to your goal quicker. 

As we head into an exciting new year, make sure you have a goal. Make sure those goals are aligned with your dreams. Make sure you have a clear, granular plan of how you’re going to achieve them. And if you do that, I guarantee you, you’ll achieve your goals.

PS: you can read more about goal setting in our previous blog – The Importance of Business Planning or better yet join us for our 90 Day Business Planning Workshop on 6 January 2022 and work with us on your action plan for Q1 2022.