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Best-Laid Plans Going Awry For You?

Aug 17, 2007
Robert Burns stated it well in "To a Mouse" when he made this statement, "The best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry." No matter how carefully you plan a project, something still may go wrong.

How do I determine what plans are going to most effectively carry out the objectives and strategies of our overall business plan?

Which elements will make my plan successful?

How will I get beyond the obstacles along the way?

Meeting Objectives
In order for the objectives you have determined in your business plan to be carried out, you must come up with the specific plans to accomplish those objectives. Each of those objectives stemmed from a strategy. The objectives broke down the strategy into smaller and more specific parts. The plans go another step into clarifying how and by when the objectives will be met. Your plan is really a project made up of many action steps.

Prioritizing Plans
How do you decide which plan deserves top priority? It is important to consider which plan is going to contribute the most to the growth of your business.

Where would the effort show the most results? Are you considering what is most important to your business, not just on what seems to be most urgent? Steven Covey in First Things First writes about the trap of looking at just the short-term needs and never getting to the more important steps that will truly grow your business.

Keep the previous parts of your business plan in mind. It is important to integrate the plans with the objectives and strategies. Keep focused and avoid getting off the trail if you want to get to the other side of the forest!

Selecting a Plan
In looking at a plan, consider the financial obligations that are involved. Is there adequate financial support available to take the plan to completion? Also to consider is determining the plan with the highest return on your investment of time and money. Part of the consideration for the cost of implementing a plan is how long it will take to complete. You'll need to estimate the time required as well as the cost of the project.

Determining Planning Steps
Once you have decided on a clear plan for your efforts, it is time to determine what is the very first step. Even the very first step must be broken down into increments. List these small increments so that you are very clear what the project will entail.

Sometimes it is helpful to try a different approach for planning other than just listing items on a word document or piece of paper. Using a large piece of paper, you can start writing down all the items that must be considered. These can be scattered over the paper with lines connecting those items that are relevant and in certain categories.

Color-coding the various categories can make your direction more obvious. This is called mind mapping and can be a way to access all parts of the brain and let you be more creative with your planning.

I used this method in planning this article. I had categories of: Determining the Plan, Actions To Take, Obstacles, Delegation, and Measurement. Going out from these were the various segments of those categories. I found that my thoughts flowed more easily than if I were making an outline. That can get pretty boring and keep you stuck in a box with your thinking.

Obstacles To Success
Over promising was the first obstacle that came to mind for me. I hear this often from clients. In an effort to show our enthusiasm, we can be a bit too enthusiastic about our concept of time and money. It's critical to think rationally for the long haul of a project, not just in terms of how the initial sprint will go.

Another obstacle may be our reaction when we feel we have used "poor judgment" or "made a mistake" along the way on a project. This can be a real energy sapper.

As Richard Carlson shared in his book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff About Money, it's important to laugh at your mistakes. When you focus on the mistake and make a really big deal of it, you are much more likely to repeat the mistake. Our mental energy is a powerful tool for our success or failure. If our energy is abundant, we are more creative and will see more solutions and opportunities. We actually build on our strengths.

Other obstacles can be family concerns, physical tiredness, and health challenges. Be aware of these and do what you can to resolve them so that you will not be distracted from the completion of your plans.

A huge obstacle to completion of goals is trying to do it all yourself! We can get so possessive of a project that we feel that we want to be in control of every aspect to make sure it is completed well. Most of the time, if you can complete a goal all by yourself, it is probably not a big enough goal. Being open to seeing how others can support you is a huge piece of the success for so many people in our world who are making a difference.

How do we measure our success?

Have we completed the project that supported our strategy and objectives?
Were our estimates of time and money accurate?

If the answer to either of these questions is negative, it's time to evaluate what could be done differently the next time. Looking clearly at the statistics makes this process so much simpler.

What most of us forget to do is to acknowledge WHAT WENT WELL!

We can focus so much on everything that needs improvement, that we forget to look at what was very successful. By this focus, we can also learn what we want to continue doing in future projects. And what, specifically, caused the success?

Really look over the notes and achievements and discuss these with everyone involved in the project.

With this knowledge in mind of what to keep and what to change, you'll be ready to take on your next plan to get even closer to the business success you deserve!
About the Author
Exuberant Productivity Coach, Suzanne Holman, MAEd, works with financial service professionals, realtors, and self-employed professionals determined to make every hour they work truly productive so they have quality time and abundant energy for fun and family! For a FREE Exuberance Assessment and tips for increasing your productivity and having a more satisfying life, visit
Exuberant Productivity.com
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