A few weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of having a written plan—whether that’s a business, financial or life plan—and the value of writing things down vs. just having them bounce around in your head.
I noted there is evidence that those who have written financial and business plans are more successful, and I cited reasons from Michael Hyatt for writing down your life plan.
I’ve since stumbled upon a great blog by Michael Nichols, associate vice president for enrollment and marketing at Southern Wesleyan University. Nichols blogs on leadership and self-development at michaelnichols.org. I like his intentional approach to career changes and personal growth.
The point Nichols makes is that it’s not enough to write down your plan. (You mean I have to do more?) You need to make sure you are staying on track by periodically reviewing and modifying your plan.
Nichols has a life plan and a business vision, and he reviews both weekly. Here are his tips:
1. Reconnect with the important
My life plan and business vision outline those things that I have identified as having the highest value in my life and work. Let’s face it – life happens. We get off track. The urgent replaces the important.
If I’ve strayed off track or my progress has slowed, my weekly review allows me to refocus and reset. It helps me reconnect with my highest-payoff disciplines.
2. Review progress
I’m naturally more attuned to areas that need improvement. It’s easy for me to be blind to progress. So it’s important for me to set a time to review where I’ve come from – and how far I’ve come.
All of us can benefit from celebrating progress more often – it provides energy and creates momentum to get to the next level.
3. Look ahead
It’s also critical for me to reconnect with where I’m headed – short-term and long-term. So I take a look at the next week or two in my calendar to see what’s coming. Reviewing my business plan helps me keep up with short-term projects and reviewing my business vision helps me keep 5, 10, 20-year goals in view.
4. Make updates
When I first wrote my life plan, business vision, business plans, ideal week, etc., they weren’t perfect. In fact, I found that there were a lot of things that just didn’t work in the early days. They were works in progress.
Michael Hyatt recommends that you view them as drafts which you will regularly revise as needed. I often make minor notes and updates on a weekly basis.
I schedule 1-2 days away for my quarterly review to make major improvements. I have also scheduled an annual review during the week between Christmas and New Years – another discipline I learned from Michael Hyatt. During my annual review I complete my annual time block for the coming year. This helps me look ahead 1-2 years to ensure that I set aside substantial time for those areas that I have identified as most important in my life.
Boy, do I have a lot of work to do!