The Best Tool to Plan for Your Long-Term Goals

The Best Tool to Plan for Your Long-Term Goals

This month on the blog, I’ve been giving you the tools to finish 2021 strong. I introduced you to the strategy you need to set clear goals and the habits that will set you up for success. Now it’s time to put it all into action with a plan for your long-term goals. 

Why do you need a plan?

Trying to achieve your goals without a clear plan is like taking a road trip without GPS. You’re going to end up lost. But that’s exactly how most people live. Research shows that 66% of Americans don’t have a plan for their lives. They’re just winging it. 

When you don’t create a plan for your long-term goals, you waste valuable time and effort. According to the Law of Planning by Brian Tracy, when you spend a minute planning, you save 10 minutes in execution; that’s a 1,000 percent return on your investment of mental, emotional, and physical energy. 

Planning is also important to your business success. A study in the International Small Business Journal showed that when you take the time to plan, you get better at: 

  • Dealing with the uncertainty of business and entrepreneurship 
  • Operating your business with confidence and efficiency 
  • Predicting your business’ financial performance

As an entrepreneur, that’s the kind of ROI you should be looking for.

How to create an effective plan

Now you know why planning is important. Let’s talk about how to do it. Whenever I have a new goal or when I’m working with clients or mentees who want to accomplish big goals, my go-to tool is the 3-2-1 Plan. 

The 3-2-1 Plan is a simple and effective tool you can use to reverse engineer a plan for your long-term goals. With the 3-2-1 Plan, you’ll be able to break down your goals into smaller goals over a specific period. 

If you want to use the next three months to accomplish some of your goals before the end of the year, here’s how you can use the 3-2-1 Plan over the next 90 days. 

Step 1: Get clear on your goal

If you read the deathbed strategy post, you should already have created some clear goals. If you haven’t done that yet, stop right now and write down the goals you want to achieve in the next 90 days. Be clear and specific. If you have money goals (like increasing your sales/income or paying off debt, figure out the exact number). 

Step 2: Do the math 

Figure out what it’s going to cost to accomplish your goals. For financial goals, name a dollar amount. For other goals, think about the number of hours you need to put in, the expenses you’ll have to cover, etc. Come up with a concrete number before moving to the next step. 

Step 3: Plan Ass Backwards 

Now you have your goal and the numbers it will take to achieve it, you can start working backward to create your plan. The best way to explain this step is with an example. 

Say you wanted to make $15,000 in your business in the next three months. Your plan would look something like this: 

Month 3 – $15,000 in revenue 

Month 2 – $7,500 in revenue 

Month 1 – $3,750 in revenue 

So, you set your biggest goal for the 3-month point. Then, you aim to reach half of that goal by the second month and half of the second-month goal by the first month. This strategy works for any time frame (I usually do it for a three-year period) and any kind of measurable goal. 

Step 4: Get into the details 

Take the smaller goals that lead up to your bigger goal and break them down to their details. Sticking with the last example, if your goal in Month 1 is to make $3.750 in revenue, what kinds of things do you need to do each week to make those things happen?

If this were my business, my plan for Month 1 would look something like this: 

Week 1: Identify a product or service

Week 2: Research my ideal client; refine my offering to match their needs 

Week 3: Start marketing and sending sales pitches 

Week 4: Focus on hard sales to hit revenue targets

Repeat this same process of creating smaller goals and tasks for each time period. Your focus should always be on what you need to do to get to the next big goal. Obviously, the more time you have, the more detailed you can be, but the 3-2-1 Plan is designed to help you strategize for any situation and timeline. 

Step 5: Review, assess, and adjust your plan 

Your 3-2-1 Plan is not set in stone. A plan actually helps you be more flexible with your goals. With a 3-2-1 Plan, you can track your progress and see what’s working and what isn’t. Review your plan regularly and assess each step to see if it’s getting the results you want. If it’s not, make adjustments that will get you back on track. 

 

So, now you have a tool to make the last three months of the year count. Whatever goals you set, use the 3-2-1 Plan to accomplish at least some of them over the next 90 days. And before you step into the new year, take some time to think about what you want to achieve in the next few years and reverse engineer a plan for your long-term goals.

 

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