Everyone’s talking about setting goals, planning for the year ahead, and creating a better life and world. It’s inspiring, but planning for change can also feel overwhelming. If you don’t have much planning experience, whether in your personal or professional life, it helps to have some insight into what a planning process is and how it works.
Planning isn’t a one-process-fits-all thing, but there is a way to create a planning process that works for you personally and professionally. I’m going to walk you through some of the planning strategies that I have used in the past with great success. These strategies may not work for everyone, but at the very least, they are a great place to start.
A planning process is a series of specific steps that will take you from an identified starting point to the desired ending point. The process typically starts with setting goals that are aligned with your values, aspirations, desires, and needs. It then moves beyond these hopes and wishes to establish a concrete action plan that you can implement in daily life to make your goals your reality.
Why do you need a long planning process to reach your goals? It may seem like we will naturally push ourselves in the right direction once we work through goal setting and know where we’re headed. Unfortunately, we may not see all the risks, opportunities, setbacks, and strategies available to us without working through a professional or personal planning process.
Time blocking is one of the most approachable and easy-to-use strategies I have found to create goals and action plans for both my personal and professional life. This approach starts with setting goals for the long term and then breaking them down into a series of short-term goals. The short-term goals lead directly back to the long-term goal.
I want to walk you through a time-blocking process that may help you move from your big-picture vision of the future to daily actions that produce tangible results. I have seen how successful this process can be through my own personal and professional experiences, so it is my hope that it will be of benefit to you as well.
In addition to time-blocking, we’ll discuss how you can apply this to personal and professional goals.
There are five steps to this simple planning process. Once working through the first step, the remaining steps are often easier and faster to complete.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
Some people may focus on more personal goals, such as wanting to take control of their health by losing a certain amount of weight through healthy practices. At the same time, others may choose more professional goals to focus on, such as wanting to increase their business’s social media presence by expanding to a new platform or starting a YouTube channel.
Yearly goal setting is fun because you get to dream big. You’re looking at a blank canvas that you can fill with exciting accomplishments that energize you.
To get started, ask yourself what you envision for the future and how you can plan to get there.
As you start thinking about the goals you want to achieve, break them into milestones. Certain goals will take time and actions to accomplish.
What will it take to accomplish the milestones? Time? Resources? How will you measure these?
Think about backward scheduling! In order to get these goals done, when do you need to start the different milestones?
Now that you have your annual goals and milestones, can you break them down into quarterly goals that build upon one another throughout the next 12 months?
This will allow you to see what you need to get done quarterly!!!
Once we’ve set some quarterly goals/milestones that align with our annual goals, it’s time to break them down further by setting monthly goals!
What we are doing is making these more granular to ensure you have the time and planning to meet your yearly goals.
This step is all about what you can do on a weekly basis to drive those monthly and quarterly goals.
As you set weekly actions and block time for them to ensure completion, you’re creating a weekly plan to hit your long-term goals, one week at a time.
Finally, it’s time to figure out what you need to accomplish on a daily basis to meet that overarching goal. To help figure out what these daily steps are, consider asking yourself what actions you need to take daily to make your goals become your reality.
You can often pull daily tasks from the weekly plan. Some days may have more tasks to complete than others, so I like to think about how my business plan will blend with my personal responsibilities, hobbies, and social life. This helps me to maintain a healthy work-life balance while still meetings all of my set goals for my personal and professional life.
Once you have your long-term goals and have broken them down to the daily level, you have created a complete plan that should lead you to success. You can do this for your life as a whole or make a separation between personal and professional goals.
Here’s a simple exercise that I recommend to all of my clients to keep them on track to hit their goals while highlighting their personal and professional growth. At the end of each day, take some time to ask yourself these four questions in a personal and professional capacity:
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What did you learn?
- What needs to change?
Whether personal or professional goals are your strength, I encourage you to walk through the planning process two times: once for personal goals and once for professional goals.
I know all too well how easy it is to neglect your personal life while working toward ambitious business goals. Many people find staying on top of business plans much more straightforward than staying on top of their personal plans and goals. But even so, having a personal planning process in place will help to keep your life more organized.
For personal goals, I like to think about my relationship, health and wellness goals, and other areas where I can implement personal growth-inspired goals that will positively impact my private life. I have found that following through with a personal goal-setting plan also drives greater professional success.
We’ve already discussed much of how I create my professional business process and the tools I find most helpful when doing so.
The key to professional planning is to find what works for you and your professional goals. So, create a plan you know you can follow, and then follow it.
Not every planning process will look the same, whether it’s applied to your personal or professional life, and that’s to be expected. There is no template to create a process that works for you, but with the right help, you can definitely find what works for you.
Whether you’re looking to improve your professional or personal planning process, I will work with you to set achievable goals that drive success. So, if you’re interested in starting to build a planning process or need a little extra help setting goals and breaking them down, get in touch with me today!