Planning For Success

Benjamin Franklin once said:

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

You’ve possibly heard that quote so many times you’re blue in the face with it; but never the less it’s true. If we want to achieve our goals we must prepare for our success.

Recently I suggested you make a list of your long term goals; anything that you want to achieve in a few months time right out to life long goals like having a nice home to retire to. These goals may seem very remote and consequently you may find it difficult to plan for them; but these are the goals that require the most planning to ensure success.

Let’s take the retirement home as an example. Suppose you want to be in a position to purchase a house to retire to in, say, 20 years time. So you create your SMART goal:

  • Specific – purchase a 3 bedroom house with a sea view. You’d want to make this much more specific; but I shall save space.
  • Measurable – You’ve bought the house and moved in.
  • Attainable – So long as you start early enough this is attainable (alternatively you could rob a bank; but I don’t condone such action to attain your goals).
  • Relevant – contributes to my family and environment values.
  • Timed – You’ve 20 years.

So where do we go from here? Forget about the goal for 20 years and then say, “OK, missed that one”? No!

The next step is to brainstorm all the things we think might, in some way, help us to get to our goal. To do this set aside some quiet time where you’re not going to be interrupted. If this is a goal to be shared with your partner or work colleagues then include them in the brain storming session.

Here’s a quick brainstorm I did for our example goal;

  • Raise the finances
  • Find a new house
  • Sell the current house
  • Move house

The first item, “Raise the finances” needs some further investigation as we’ve identified here another goal, a sub-goal of the goal to buy a house by the sea.

Sub-goals need to be treated in just the same way as the main goals; they need to be SMART;

  • Specific – “Raise the finances” isn’t specific. We need to specify what our goal is, I.e. how much we want to spend on the house in 20 years. Raise 2.5 million in savings is specific.
  • Measurable – Just look in the savings account or get a statement from our stock broker.
  • Attainable – Yes because we’re putting the work in now to achieve our long term goals
  • Revelent – Yes because it contributes directly to the parent goal
  • Timed – We have a little less than the parent goal to get this done; say 19 years.

Now we have a (slightly) shorter time scale goal to raise 2.5 million in savings in 19 years. So we perform the same process on this goal; brain storm all the things we need to do to accomplish it:

  • Get a better paid job – one that earns at least 100K a year
  • Invest savings

Two new goals! Both of these need to be done as soon as possible to get the maximum financial gain. Investing the savings we can accomplish within three months. The search for a better paid job might take 6 months. Again these goals get the SMART treatment.

By now you’ll have got the picture. Keep breaking each step down into it’s sub-goals and make each sub-goal SMART. At the end of the process you’ll have mapped out all the stepping stone that are going to take you to your goal, even if it is twenty years in the future.

If you’ve any questions at all on this process please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments. Next we’ll be looking at making goals work for you on a day to day basis.

Stay tuned!