It’s that time of year, the time of goal setting and planning for the year ahead. Every other article I read at the moment provides more tips and tricks to creating the perfect plan for 2018. But I think they’re missing one fundamental part of the process. The One Goal, don’t get confused with the one ring that’s a different movie.
I’ve been in business for 23 years and over that time I’ve written hundreds of action plans. Every plan has been specific it’s been smart and I’ve followed all of the tips and tricks out there. I think at one point I had an action plan for delivering the action plan! It was getting a little bit crazy, pieces of paper, fancy drawings, charts, wall charts. computer-generated plans, I had them all.
However in 2013 I had what can only be described as a blinding flash of light on the road to Damascus. In other words I had a moment of clarity when it came to planning.
So at that time the business was doing reasonably well, sales were up, costs were down and the profit was healthy. The problem was every time I looked at my goals I realised I had failed to meet a few, and only partially achieved others. This always gave me a real sense of disappointment myself and my achievements. The other thing I noticed was the though the business was growing it wasn’t growing as fast as I wanted to and it certainly wasn’t gonna allow me to achieve my dreams.
This is where I had my moment of inspiration I thought myself why am I writing pages and pages of plans that address it on my desk or adorn my wall and never get looked at throughout the year. It was at this point I decided to change my approach.
I shut the door, turned off the computer and started to think. I asked myself one simple question.
If I could achieve just one thing what would it be?
My answer to this at the time was to achieve a turnover of £1.5 million. At the time the business was doing £900,000. I want to do this within five years. I took a marker pen and I wrote on my whiteboard in big characters £1.5 million.
I looked at that board every day for the next four years, it was my only focus. No more 24 page plans no more endless smart goals no more wallpaper for the walls just £1.5 million.
Lots of people will say that to drive the business forward you have to have goals. I don’t disagree but if you haven’t got one fundamental goal it is impossible to create actions that truly make a difference. By having one overarching goal I was able to make better decisions about what actions to take. It allowed me to be flexible, agile, explore opportunities when they arose and get rid of anything that didn’t move the business towards that goal.
So yes I wrote some actions down but the ones that actually what really made a difference. I stopped writing 30 or 40 action points. Every action I wrote down I asked the simple question
Does this take me closer to £1.5 million?
In the first year I tried this I think I had about eight actions by year four I got that down to 4. I split my business into four areas and I cover this in a later blog. But in simple terms it was one action per area and that was replaced only when it was done.
Ultimately we all know what has to be done we just need to focus on doing the right things and this is where I saw the major difference in results. Every time I got my to-do list out and wrote down a task I asked myself the same question.
Does this take me closer to £1.5 million?
If it didn’t it didn’t get done, no ifs, no buts it was off the list. This allowed me to be absolutely focused on the one goal not sidetracked by the latest newer shiniest objects or distraction. it didn’t matter if I was spending £20 on a webinar for the team or £100,000 refitting a surgery the question was the same.
To be honest, after a few months of doing this I didn’t have any action plans all I did was take action. I was able to do rather than procrastinate.
Think Less – Do More
So I would encourage everyone to spend less time writing down things that you’re not going to do and come up with the one thing that will make the biggest difference to your life and your business and then take action every day that moves you towards that.
I sold my business last year and we hadn’t reached the £1.5 million goal because we are a year too early but we were definitely on track to achieve it. And that to me was a result.
I spent a few days away at New Year thinking about the year ahead and what I would like to achieve, in the next blog I will share with you what my goal is now and the next stage I’ll go through to achieve it.