90-day plans critical to achieving your goals

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It is that time of year again – time to set goals and develop plans.

Most people will claim that they understand the importance of goal setting and planning, but the reality is, depending on the source, 65 percent to 80 percent of people never set goals. That figure is lower for those of us in business or entrepreneurial pursuits that promote goal setting and some degree of planning.

Unfortunately, though, statistics indicate that for those of us setting goals, roughly 70 percent fail to achieve them. To me, it makes it completely understandable why most people don’t set goals.

As a business coach, however, the best advice I can give you is to set goals and then implement a 90-day planning approach that will greatly increase your success in achieving those goals.

Initially, it will take thought and preparation to arrive at goals that are:

(1) Essential to business success.

(2) Tangible and achievable.

(3) Measurable.

It may require that you spend time collecting current data on your daily operations, understanding your most profitable products and customers and, of course, reviewing your revenue and profit numbers. That information will help you identify the most important needs in the business and help focus the goals you set.

And the critical piece of goal setting is the focus – defining the essential few goals that will make the most difference in the business.

Starting out the year with solid goals for your company is a positive step forward for certain. But there sure is a lot of time stretching between the months of January and the following December to consider.

So much can happen in a week, a day – even an hour. How in the world can you now plan ahead an entire year, develop a plan that will stick and keep you moving toward your goals?

The bottom line is that you can’t.

That’s why a 90-day plan is the smart way to accomplish goals. It’s a long-enough chunk of time to produce measurable and valuable results. It’s a short-enough piece of time to allow changes to be made – changes that will reflect a rapidly evolving economy where technology is morphing on a weekly basis.

The truth is that with effective planning, you can achieve more in 90 days than most businesses can in an entire year.

“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius

Consider:

• Planning ahead for an entire year is extremely difficult. A calendar year – 365 days – is a long time in the business world. You cannot achieve your large yearly goal/vision without smaller manageable chunks or tasks that include measurement and assessment strategies.

A 90-day plan will focus your larger goals into quarterly achievements.

• Business trends vary from week to week. Competition changes, the economy swerves. Is your existing plan flexible? What if the technology you are using changes next month?

Ninety-day plans allow you to step in and change focus both when and where it’s needed.

• It keeps all team members on board. In the beginning of a new year, it is relatively easy to create an aura of excitement – a buzz – about what the upcoming year will bring with it.

Being human, it is easy to fall off the wagon a bit as time drags on. Ninety-day plans can keep that momentum from going stale, and they can energize everyone on your staff – as well as outside contractors. (These plans should include everyone.)

• It helps with time management. Not only does a 90-day plan summarize your goals, it aids with trimming them into bite-sized tasks that can be listed, delegated, scheduled and completed.

Time management becomes an integral part of your planning process; it helps ensure that each sub-goal can be accomplished in the time frame you decide upon.

As a seasoned business coach, I can tell you that the consistent use of a 90-day plan is one of the best business tools you can employ to help you achieve your yearly goals.

Also, the more times you plan and execute a 90-day initiative, the better you will become at it – planning takes practice, so don’t ever let yourself become discouraged.

Motivation, forward movement and accountability are the name of the game to accomplishing a successful business year. And 90 days from now, you will see why.

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