So, you’ve set a SMART goal that is specific, your progress can be measured, it’s humanly possible to achieve it, you believe you can do it, you are willing and able and you have given yourself a deadline. Now, how do you go about accomplishing it? You need a plan.
A plan of action is the steps you intend to take to reach your goal. It is the activities you do on a daily, weekly and monthly basis that move you closer to your objective. Think of it as your road map or GPS. Before you take a trip, you first determine the route you are going to take to get there.
Have you ever forgotten to bring driving directions along with you? How many times did you make a wrong turn and get lost? How many times did you stop at a gas station for help, only to be given directions that confused you even more?
Without a plan of action, a road map, we will get lost on our journey toward our goals. We will get distracted. We will get frustrated. We will likely turn around and come back. On the other hand, when we have a well-defined path to our goal, the likelihood that we will reach the goal is greatly enhanced.
Start With Why
Since your plan of action is an extension of your goals, it too must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-limited. Let’s see how this works by examining the goals and action steps of a networker named Lou.
Lou has been in network marketing for two years. He’s not had much success to this point, but admits he hasn’t taken his business very seriously. Something changed in Lou recently; he has become determined, more focused. He calls his upline, Richard, to see if he can get help setting some business goals. Richard quickly agrees. They meet the next day at the corner coffee shop.
Lou: Thanks for meeting with me, Rich. I’ve written down my first goal; tell me what you think.
Richard: Wait a minute, Lou. Before we get to that, may I ask what brought you here today? Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the fact that you want to set goals. But, may I ask “Why now?”
Lou: I don’t know, exactly. I guess it was that guest speaker we had at the meeting a couple of weeks ago. He asked that question, “Do you have all you want in life, or have you settled for what you have?” That went through me like a lightning bolt! I realized I’ve become the guy who just settles for what he has. I don’t want to live that way any longer. It’s all I can think about. I have to force myself to do my job. I might be at work but my head isn’t at work. My heart isn’t there.
Richard: It sounds like he really inspired you. Tell me, Lou, have you determined your Why?
Lou: My what?
Richard: Your Why. Remember back when you started your business, how we encouraged you to figure that out?
Lou: Oh, yeah. I guess I forgot. Can’t I do that later?
Richard: No, you need to do it first. Everything flows from your Why, including your goals. How committed to your goals do you think you’ll be if you can’t tell someone why you made those goals in the first place?
Lou: Good point.
Lou proceeds to tell Richard that he has never been content with any job he has ever had. He feels like a fish out of water. He realizes now that he has an entrepreneurial spirit. Lou also has a love for missions.
Several years ago he went to Africa, where he helped build a hospital. The experience changed him. He has a desire to go back there often. But, his job affords him neither the time nor money to do so.
During his discussion with Richard, Lou comes to realize that his Why is to build his business so he can be free to do mission work whenever he wants. He shares this with Richard, who encourages him to go home and discuss this revelation with his wife, Dawn. He tells Lou that having Dawn’s support is very important to his success, and therefore it is imperative that he share his dream with her.
Richard also tells him that he (Lou) needs to give all of this more thought to be sure it’s what he really wants. They agree to meet again three days later.
Seeing Your Business With New Eyes
Richard: So, Lou, where are you with determining your Why? Have you given it more thought? How was your discussion with Dawn?
Lou: I thought about it quite a bit and I’m even more convinced than I was before. I shared it with Dawn and she loved it. She said she’s not seen me this happy and excited for a long time. You know…I don’t know quite how to say it, but…the way I look at my business is so much different now. It’s amazing, really.
Richard: Great! Congratulations! Lou, that’s why that step is so important. You have to know your Why. Okay, now that we have that established, let’s talk about your goals.
Lou: Well, I want to replace my income so I can quit my job. I make $60,000 a year.
Richard: Sixty-thousand dollars a year – that’s $5,000 a month. How soon do you plan to be making that much money in your business?
Lou: Well, I’d like to say within a year but that’s probably not realistic. What do you think?
Richard: I think that’s something you have to ask yourself. I can tell you that it CAN be done; it is definitely achievable. We’ve seen people on our team do it. But, it will depend on you, how much time you commit to it, what you’re willing to give up in your life to get it. It will depend on how much you believe in yourself and your willingness to grow.
May I make a suggestion? Replacing your income is a big goal, and a year is a big window of time. You might break that down into smaller steps. Keep your eye on the prize – replacing your income – but put smaller goals ahead of it. Small steps are easier to make than giant leaps. Maybe your first goal could be that you are earning $1,000 a month on a consistent basis.
Lou: Okay, how do I do that?
Richard: Well, I can tell you that you won’t get there by simply selling product. You’ll have to focus on finding leaders.
Lou: What do you mean by “leaders”?
Richard: People who are hungry for the business and who are teachable. Looking at our compensation plan, you’re going to need at least three leaders to hit that first goal. And, you’ll need to sponsor a lot of people to find those three.
Lou: How long will that take?
Richard: You tell me.
Lou: Three months?
Richard: Okay, that works. Now, you have to determine what it will take to find three leaders within three months. I can tell you that there’s no magic formula. Some people do it sooner than others. Some do it with less effort than others.
Tell me what you think you need to do on a daily or weekly basis to find your three leaders in three months.
Lou: What if I commit to talking to 10 people a week?
Richard: Okay. Can you tell me what you mean by “talk to”?
Lou: You know, tell them about the opportunity.
Richard: I’m going to challenge you to add something to that action step. In addition to talking to 10 people, focus on setting a minimum number of appointments. For instance, “I will talk to a minimum of 10 people per week and set a minimum of three appointments per week.”
I know setting appointments makes this more of a challenge, but it also gives your plan of action more teeth. It will move your business ahead much more quickly.
Lou: Okay, I can see that. So, why not just make the action step strictly appointments and forget the part about talking to 10 people?
Richard: Well, what if you get an appointment from each of the first three people you talk to? Should you stop talking to new people until the following week?
Lou: (laughing) Good point. The more, the better!
It Will Cost You (But It’s Worth It)
The conversation turns to how Lou will actually implement his plan of action. Like most people, Lou has a full life. He doesn’t have much idle time.
Richard: Now, tell me this, Lou: what are you willing to give up in order to do all of this?
Lou: Uh, I’m not sure what you mean by that.
Richard: This is quite a time investment. You will have to make sacrifices. You can’t fit this into your schedule without giving up something else. What do you typically do in the evening after work? What do you do on the weekends?
Lou: Well, I have a Tuesday golf league and the rest of the week I usually watch TV at night. On the weekends, Dawn and I usually do something together.
Richard: If you had to give up one of those things, which one would it be?
Lou: Well, I could give up TV.
Richard: Good choice.
Next, we need to talk about accountability. If you are willing to be accountable to someone in your upline, to let them know how you’re doing each week, your chance of success will be a lot greater. When you’re accountable to yourself and only yourself, it doesn’t work as well as having another person involved. We tend to be undisciplined and make excuses.
Lou: Makes sense. Can I be accountable to you?
Richard: I’m happy to do that, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t become you reporting to me like an employee to a boss. The purpose isn’t for you to get my approval or anyone else’s, for that matter. The purpose of accountability is to keep you focused and moving ahead. It’s about you.
Lou: Okay, I get it! I’m ready!
Richard: One more thing, Lou. You need to be on a personal development plan. It’s just as important as your action plan. This is not going to be easy.
You are going to get plenty of support from your upline, but there are going to be some changes within you that have to take place. You will have to become a stronger leader.
It’s no longer just about your efforts. It’s also about the efforts of those three leaders you need to find. You’ll need to start mentoring them, like we’ve been mentoring you. We’re going to help you, but you need to take on some of that burden yourself.
So, you also need to carve out time for reading and listening to books and other resources on leadership, facing fear, developing discipline, things like that. You need to equip yourself to step into a leadership role.
Lou: Got it. I’ll do it.
Lou leaves the meeting with renewed excitement. It all makes sense, now: he knows what he needs to do; the plan is in place. For the first time, he actually feels like an entrepreneur. A vision is forming in his mind. He can see himself leaving his job for good. He can see himself building that hospital in Africa.
Richard is energized as well. He sees an opportunity to pour into Lou, to build a deep relationship with him and help Lou build a dream.