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It’s January and it feels like every second email I open is imploring me to plan the coming year.

Normally, this would fill me with dread and a fair measure of inadequacy at not being able to map out my dreams in technicolour glory. But not now, I have finally discovered the joys of having a plan. Not a wish, not a dream but a piece of paper that spells out what I want.

How did this happen?

It’s all due to the training I’ve been receiving right here at HerBusiness, specifically through Suzi and Michelle and the Herbusiness Marketing Success Mastermind Group.

I’ve been a part of the group for about 18 months, and I remember the first time we were asked to draft a 90 day plan. I suppressed a groan, convinced that it would not work for me.

Suzi provided clear instructions (start with the big rocks) and an excellent framework to use, but I found the process incredibly difficult. I had no idea – both about what I wanted or what was achievable.

I ended up writing down a huge list of things, took it home, put it away and never looked at it again… until our next quarterly meeting.

At the second meeting, we were asked to assess how we’d progressed with our plan. I reluctantly admitted my failure to achieve any of my goals. While I didn’t feel good about where I was at, there were no recriminations, and I did hear the success that other members in the group were having. This made me curious and strengthened my resolve to do better.

The next day, it was planning time again for the coming 90 days. I had a fresh chance to give it a go. This time I approached it a little more realistically, buoyed by my fellow member’s experiences. I paid attention to my big rocks – those things that were really important to my business that had to be completed or progressed.

This time when I got home – I put my plan up on the wall so I could see it. On those days when I lost my way or was wondering what I should be doing – I’d look at the plan, recalibrate and start working on the important things.

At the next quarterly meeting – it was time to share again. This time I had a few successes of my own to share and boy – didn’t that feel good! I loved ticking something off the plan and being able to celebrate a WIN.

I was starting to like having a plan.

My next 90-day plan was even more pared back – it only had a few big rocks on it. I was both learning to become more realistic in what I could achieve but also clearer in my direction and what was important to me.

90 days is a good time frame – it’s chunky enough to make meaningful progress but not too big that it becomes fuzzy.

Last month, I attempted my first yearly plan. It was a little daunting tackling that stretch of time, but through my experience, I realise that a plan is not the 10 commandments cast in stone. It can be changed or revised as different priorities appear.

What I underestimated about the planning process is the thinking time and space it demands. When you’re in a small business, it’s easy to get on that hamster wheel and hardly come up for air. We can jump from one bright shiny object to another without even knowing if it fits with our overall vision.

Carving out some planning time can give us the breathing room to contemplate and become more intentional. It can seem like a luxury to take that time out, but it is well worth it.

I now love having a plan – I love having a map that reminds me of the things that I once decided was important because it is incredibly easy to forget about the big rocks (important stuff) when you’re drowning in sand (little stuff).

So if you’ve struggled with planning in the past, I invite you to give it a go. Start with thinking about your values and big rocks. Give yourself permission to see a fuzzy picture (there’s a reason why it’s fuzzy) but take a stab at it anyway. Fudging it is totally necessary when you’re starting out!

Remember to commit to reviewing the plan and if you can find someone to share it with for added accountability – all the better!!

Suzi offers excellent resources for premium members through the Facebook group and will launch more tools shortly. These include:

  • SWOT analysis
  • Vision Mission Goals guidelines
  • Weekly Focus sheet
  • 2-Page Strategic Plan

Happy New Year and here’s to celebrating the WINS!

About the Author

Nadia MacLeod is Director at RP Emery & Associates, Legal Publishers. RP Emery & Associates creates easy to use Legal Kits to save your valuable time and money. As a non-lawyer herself, she understands the confusion and unease that many people experience when confronted with a legal issue. That’s why she works to...