Have Business Goals for 2018? Here's Why Planning is Paramount

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Whether you intend to grow revenue, improve professional relationships, or introduce new projects, one thing is for sure: planning is paramount. Without it, the shared vision you have for your organization, as well as your personal goals, won't become reality. 

Would you chart the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat without planning your route, equipment and provisions? You wouldn't if you want to make it across. Individual and collective goals in the workplace are no different. Without a plan, both the vision and the action are without direction.

Proper planning paves the way to success and growth. Businesses that proactively plan grow 30% faster than those that don't, according to The Journal of Management Studies.

To avoid becoming stranded in the middle of the figurative ocean this year, apply the following tips to help steer the course of your goals.

Write it Down

Until you write something down, it exists in the cluttered recesses of your mind. And according to research, WRITING DOWN YOUR GOALS will make you far more likely to achieve them.

"Writing things down" could simply mean writing a bulleted list by hand, depending on the scope and complexity of your goals. For multiple goals that contain a lot of moving parts, a MIND MAP or interactive calendar can help you keep all your ducks in a row. A mind map allows you to focus on a central idea and expand on that idea in creative ways that can help address multiple aspects of execution. 

Getting things down on paper (virtual or otherwise) is especially important for company-wide business goals that require participation from the entire company. In addition to company-wide meetings and emails, consider a whiteboard or similar place in the office where company goals can be displayed prominently as a daily reminder. After having the necessary team conversations to solicit perspectives about problems and solutions, create a transparent and simple business plan that includes an outline of goals for the year, an execution plan, and a financial forecast.

For individual goals, try writing them down and keeping them in a place where you'll see them every day, such as near your computer monitor or on your front door so you that you see them before you leave for the day.

Plan the Necessary Conversations

To move the dial in the direction of your vision, CONVERSATIONS ARE ESSENTIAL. Conversations have the power to get multiple parties on the same page, address pressing issues, and produce tangible results.

To figure out who you need to speak to, ask yourself:

Who within and outside my organization plays a key role in the fulfillment of this goal?

Do I need to have a performance-related conversation, such as a feedback, or confrontation conversation, to get the ball rolling?

Regarding objectives, whose input needs to be considered and who needs to be informed?

Sometimes these conversations take place internally, but even individual goals can benefit from an external conversation. If you have a goal in mind for yourself, consider sharing your intentions with someone you work with. Expressing your intention will help make it real, and the person you shared with can help by holding you "able" to achieve it via follow ups and encouragement.

Once you've determined who you need to speak to, commit to following through. Conversations are one of the most bypassed steps in the goal setting process, yet having them can be one of the most effective ways to make things happen.

Set Milestones Along the Way

In order to create milestones, start out by determining the goal timeline. When does the work begin, and when will you know whether it's been fulfilled?

Keeping track of progress throughout the year will give you important insights about your approach—specifically, whether or not it's working. Pro tip: Set up electronic reminders to check in on progress regularly, which includes checking in with the people who are also working to meet the goal(s). Include key dates and key deadlines in these reminders.

If things aren't going as you hoped during check-in, you'll have the opportunity to chart a new course of action and make necessary adjustments.

Be Realistic, Set Priorities

It's not a detriment to aim high, but also remember that you and the people you work with are human. Performance suffers when we're spread too thin.

Also keep in mind that focusing on too many moving parts at any given time can lead to an unintentional sabotage of your goals. Have a team conversation with the relevant people about priorities—it's great when we have a lot of ideas on the table, and at the same time, we run the risk of losing focus on what's most important or falling into "analysis paralysis" when we try to bring all ideas to fruition. Together, pinpoint the most critical areas that will make the biggest difference. From there, assess the capacity to take on more.

Reconnect with Purpose

It's important to ensure your business goals align with your mission statement and vision—if they don't, either your goals or your mission statement need tweaking. 

A Japanese proverb says, "Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare." 

As you move into action this year, reconnect yourself and your team with "why." Revisit your organization's mission statement. Reconnecting with a shared vision stimulates heart-inspired action, which will always take us much farther than mere duty or obligation.

While planning for culture and leadership development, make sure to consider our 2018 business predictions so you can set up your organization for smooth sailing. 

Susan's 2017 Year-End Message
Lessons in Business: 2017 Year-end Reflections

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