Achieve Your Dream with a Vision and Plan. (There’s a Difference.)

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Successful people think big, set challenging goals and develop clear plans to achieve them. With 2018 less than a month old, now is an opportune time to plan for the future.

SEE ALSO: Ripco’s Peter Ripka Is Building a Better Team While Expanding the Business

Thinking, setting goals and planning for the future necessarily requires change, and as we all know from experience, change is not easy.

A great way to approach change is through a “Force Field Analysis” developed by Kurt Lewin, the father of social psychology. In Force Field Analysis you assess your current state (where you are) with your future state (where you want to be). For example, your current state can be having one client meeting a week, and your future state can be having three client meetings a week.

The next step is to identify the forces that are driving change (e.g., you want to make more money and increase client retention) and the forces that are restraining change (e.g., I am too busy to leave the office). During this phase you need to think intentionally and with immense focus about how to reduce the restraining forces.

In the example above, you can delegate to a peer any issues that come up while you are out of the office or choose to do work during your commute. Additionally, it is critical to drill down into the driving forces to increase their motivation. You can specifically define why you want to make more money and how achieving that goal positively impacts the people on your team. The more they buy into your plan, the more activated they will be as well.

Next, lay out all of the specific steps necessary to ensure you meet your dream. Why did I call it a dream? Because any concept that takes longer than a month to achieve is not a goal. Goals are tactical. To be achieved, goals need to be short term and backed up by action steps. (Dreams are the desired vision we have of our future.)

This is the area where most people fail. They are well intentioned but don’t have the necessary action steps. The lack of persistence is often rooted in the reality that the plan was impulsive, rather than inspired by a long-term vision. But when the vision is there, the little steps along the way help bring us closer to achieving our dreams.

So let’s go back to the example of wanting three client meetings a week. What are the specific actions required?

First, identify and list the clients you want to meet. Next, prepare for the call by choosing two to three dates and times within a two-week window to actualize the meeting, a restaurant or other appropriate location for the meeting, and crafting the conversation. Keep the call short and direct. Create a simple script. For example: “Jane, it has been a while since we spoke and would love to catch up and see how your business is going. Can you do lunch on Tuesday or is the following Monday better?” 

Action is the driver of achievement, so give yourself a short-range, achievable deadline to begin reaching out to schedule the meetings. When you schedule a lunch meeting, immediately send either an email or calendar invite confirmation and place it on your calendar, along with a reminder to confirm the day before. Finally, make a reservation at the restaurant under your name.

Since the action steps are the most important part of the plan, it is important to lay them out with the granularity you see above. Dreams and goals rarely fail for reasons other than lack of following through on an action plan.

By turning your dreams and goals into action, you can make 2018 your most successful year ever!

Mark Schnurman is a principal and chief sales officer with Eastern Consolidated.