The value of a written plan

Image from entrepreneursystems.com.

It’s been said that we spend more time planning vacations and weddings than we do our careers, finances or business. Not only are we poor planners (and I’m the worst), but we never seem to commit to paper the plans we do have.

How many times have you resolved to write a business plan, career plan or financial plan?

If you’re like me, you just never get around to it—at least the writing-down part. “I’ve got it all upstairs,” you say.

I recently came across an interesting survey from the Certified Financial Planner Board. The CFP Board is the group that grants financial planners the CFP designation, and it periodically does consumer attitude surveys on money topics.

The CFP Board found that almost all Americans believe it’s important to have a financial plan. And most (79%) say they do have a plan. But here’s the funny part: About half say their plan is only in their head, and another 11% say they just have some ideas. I laughed when I read that, but then a voice inside my own little head said, “What are you laughing at, bonehead? Where’s your plan?”

Ah, well, yes.

According to the CFP Board, consumers with written financial plans are more positive about their financial future and feel less uncertain in tough economic times. They are also more likely to know if they are on track to meet their goals than those without a written plan.

A 2010 study of small business owners and entrepreneurs found that those who had taken the time to write a business plan were more successful than those who had not.

In reporting the study, smallbiztrends.com said, “Regardless of the type of company, the growth stage of the company and the intent for the business plan, Ding and Hursey’s analysis found that writing a business plan correlated with increased success in every one of the business goals included in the study. These were: obtaining a loan, getting investment capital, making a major purchase, recruiting a new team member, thinking more strategically and growing the company.”

Okay, I see where this is going.

Michael Hyatt, the author of “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World” and a blogger on intentional leadership, is a big proponent of life plans and believes it is especially important for leaders to create a written plan for themselves. (Incidentally, he noted that he spoke to a group of financial planners, and even most of them didn’t have written plans.)

You can read these in more detail on his blog, but here are his seven reasons for having a written life plan:

  1. A life plan will help you clarify your most important priorities.
  2. A life plan will enable you to maintain balance.
  3. A life plan will provide a filter by which you can say “no” to lesser things.
  4. A life plan will empower you to identify and address your current realities.
  5. A life plan will equip you to envision a better future.
  6. A life plan will serve as a road map for accomplishing what matters most.
  7. A life plan will ensure that you don’t finish life with regrets.

So, my friend, are you going to drift aimlessly through life, with no clear destination in mind? Or are you going to sit down (finally) and write out your goals and how to achieve them?

Unfortunately, most of us know what the answer should be, but we fail to take that first, crucial step. Shame on us when there is evidence we could be leading fuller, more successful lives.

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2 Responses to The value of a written plan

  1. Hmmmm, guilty as charged Jay. Good post.

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