There are 4 more days left in 2013, and it’s a good time to reflect on the year that passed and start making decisions for 2014. I use the phrase “make decisions” because that is what planning is about – it’s thinking through your “whys”, choosing what the priorities are, what activities achieve these priorities, when these activities have to take place, how they should be executed, and even where. The whole planning exercise is a bunch of decisions, and from experience, the more committed we are to these choices, the more likely we are to achieve the goals we set.
Much of our success will boil down to our ability to see things through. In other words, much of our success boils down to commitment.
Having emphasized the importance of commitment, I’ll now get very practical with a framework I like to use for planning, particularly planning a new year. It’s not perfect, and it’s not complex at all but it’s a system that has helped me through the years learn, grow, and achieve a variety of things from my diverse interests. I’m a big believer in developing “personal systems”, ways of doing things consistently that lead to efficiency and growth in one’s own life. This system has slightly been introduced through the Giving Journal of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (which is also a subsidiary of the CBTL Holdings Group, parent company of New Leaf Ventures). Go get yourself a copy before they run out.
Here are the steps I follow in planning for 2014:
1. The basic idea is to break down your company (or your life) into organized boxes.
2. After, decide on a theme for each box. For example, for physical, you can say, “Get abs!” or “Lose 30 pounds!”
3. Decide on 1-3 habits needed to achieve these themes. Keep these simple. I always advise the people who consult with me to build habits. Habits are what lead to the leap-frog moments. It is the guy who practices his shooting form day-in and day-out that will hit the buzzer beater if the opportunity comes. My piano teacher, Irl Pangilinan, taught me this when he never allowed me to skip practicing scales which I found boring. He was teaching me how to appreciate fundamentals as building blocks towards greater things. When we’re not deliberate about building healthy habits we will naturally collect bad habits. I guess that’s sort of personal entropy, our natural inclination to go from order to disorder.
4. Look for Synergies. These are habits that can be done in one go. For example, building relationships and getting fit can be done together. My personal trainer, Kirby Martin and his wife, have enjoyed getting healthy together.
5. Add Anchor Points. These are activities that you prioritize and don’t move around. Part of the reason why we don’t achieve our goals is because we negotiate through our schedules. We only really have 3 things at our disposal to succeed: money (which we don’t have in equal amounts), time (we all have the same amount in a day), and energy. We manage our money by using a budget or a personal cash-flow (which I prefer), our time through good old calendars, and energy is maximized through laser-like focus. So the ingredients to success is already in our grasp. Even for people with little or no money, there is still time and energy to be utilized. Start with what you have. Anchor points make sure that we allot sufficient time to the right habits that lead to our goals and give us moments of focus – dedicated periods to channel energies at a pre-committed activity. Anchor points form your productivity routine – a system of habits that help you grow towards your goals.
6. Plan around your anchor points. Activities such as vacations, weddings, recitals can be added too but plan them around your anchors. What doesn’t get scheduled won’t get done consistently – sometimes not done at all! Make sure to add necessary things such as work to your anchor points then plan around these. There really is no reason to show up late for work, we just have to prepare to be there on time. Every year, I find that as I get better at my chosen habits, I take less time to achieve them. That’s the great thing about forming habits in a personal system: consistency leads to growth which in turn leads to efficiencies that give us time to do other things. This is why it’s very common to find that most productively busy people are more dependent that unproductive disorganized people who have less work to do. Getting things done is more a matter of discipline than mere availability.
Be specific about your times and dates. The point here is to have anchors that hold you down when schedules get crazy. While we can’t help breaking away from our routines at times, make these the exception and make discipline the rule.
Through the years I’ve added habits to my life. Many good but, admittedly, some bad as well. So every year I take stock of my life, recognize what I need to continue, what I need to end, and what I need to put more emphasis on. Don’t be in a hurry to succeed. Be focused on building the right habits. Don’t rush to lift 100 pounds. Get good at lifting 10 pounds, and develop commitment to keep growing little by little.
May you have an amazing 2014! Keep growing and enjoy the benefits of being fruitful. If you want more information on how to develop efficiencies for your business, contact us.