Are you a Planner? An Organizer? Maybe you can relate to what I'm about to share. Or maybe you are terrible at organizing. Either way, you need to hear what I have to say about yearly strategic planning and why I've decided to ditch this annual commitment.
I've had an innate obsession with planning & organizing since I was little.
I think part of it, is my way of problem-solving; from how I could buy that pink shirt with bunny ears at 10 years old or, how I can build a legacy to contribute to the betterment of the spa industry when I retire. Looking at the big picture has always filled me with inspiration.
When I give structure to a situation by planning & organizing, suddenly I'm seeing HOW something can work, rather than feeling overwhelmed by the chaos of the moment and getting stuck.
To be honest, as a child and young woman, I used planning and organization to manage my ever-present control freakishness. Do you know any other 7-year-old who looked at the Sears Christmas Wish Book, planning which curtains and living room furniture she'd have for her future grown up apartment?
Or at 8-years-old making my sister & our neighbour friend pinky-swear, no matter where we lived, we'd all meet up in Texas and become Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders after we graduated high-school. There were BIG plans with that idea! Lol. True story - yet somehow that scenario didn't materialize. But I had all sorts of plans!
Fast forward to adulthood and entrepreneurship. Although I now refer to myself as a recovering control freak and have adopted a more chill attitude towards life, I still enjoy a good planning sesh to whip up and map our my opportunities. Especially the yearly big one in November. The one I get to spend ALL DAY making plans.
I love zooming out to see the big picture of the upcoming year. All those fresh goals with new hope and exciting opportunities within reach. It's a heady rush thinking about what life will be like same time next year when I'm deeply immersed in planning.
But as much as I really want some of those goals to materialize, come the following year, like many of you, I lose steam somewhere along the way of my yearly plan. And I find it incredibly frustrating that some of my biggest ideas are left on my annual planning document.
Why is it always so difficult to achieve 12-month goals?
Although we tend to be strong out of the gate with our goals & planning in January and February, some of our goals after that never come to fruition because 12 months is just too long to keep that kind of focus.
"We mistakenly believe that there is a lot of time left in the year, and we act accordingly." Moran & Lennington, The 12-Week Year
So we lose momentum; that energetic spark we get from our yearly planning day is barely kept alive by the end of the first quarter and flat lined by June. Personally, I've always had to set aside time mid-year to hit the reset button and regroup my goals. But many were, inadvertently, still left undone.
We run out of time.
I thought I'd have more time to create strategy & implementation tactics for those goals that were due later in the year.
You know how it goes...after a while, you're distracted by working IN your business; micromanaging your daily tasks, dealing with sick kids, training new staff, you sign up for new training you just discovered and, you forget to stay attuned with the plan you made at the beginning of the year.
Each month, you fall further behind on your implementation until it seems to far to catch up.
"The marketplace only rewards those ideas that get implemented." - Brian P Morgan + Michael Lennington, The 12-Week Year.
The ONE THING
I've spent the better part of the past year studying, living and teaching from the book The ONE THING. This book was required reading for all my members of The Spa Business Lab and was implemented in every coaching call to help them stay on track with their business goals. For some it was to increase their retail sales from under 10% to 30+%, for others, it was to create a guest experience system, another spa wanted to gin more visibility through social media and web traffic.
The effectiveness of choosing one main thing to focus on in any of our businesses has taught me how crazy-distracted we are every day.
Multi-tasking is total BS - you're lying to yourself if you think you'll get the same results when you're mind is trying to manage 5 different things. Your brain biologically doesn't work like that.
Unfortunately, our society praises the multitasking women as "doing it all!", when in fact, it's an exhausting and revenue-sucking sham.
Did you know, every time you've pulled away from focusing on a task, it takes 15 minutes for your brain to get back in the groove of what you were working on? Those notifications dinging on your phone; FB, Twitter, texts, phone calls...each one robs you 15 minutes of focused time. Add that up, folks.
No wonder you can't get anything done, and you feel like you have butterflies in your brain all day! You're not crazy, you're juggling too many things.
The ONE THING has been a fantastic working concept with practical ways to keep me highly focused. It's incredible how much less time it now takes me to write blog posts, strategy documents, webinars, emails and web copy.
But something was missing. Even though I was incredibly focused, I still had an implementation issue.
If I can be this purposeful while I am creating, how do I implement stronger?
How do I support my tendency to peter out on my actions steps?
I'm naturally a broad thinker, a visionary. And out of the big picture, I can see solutions quickly with just a little attention on them. But when it comes to my own business and the ideas I have for it, I found myself acting small when it came to execution. I wasn't always staying accountable to my own agreements.
A colleague introduced me to book called The 12-Week Year, and it's dramatically shifted how I thing AND act in my implementation process, and I want to share it with you too because I know you struggle to action out your business strategies too.
Here are some of my notes from this brilliant 12-week concept that I think you'll find fascinating:
- Execution needs to happen daily & weekly...not month & yearly.
- The key: Periodization - focus, concentration, and overload on a particular discipline, similar to how high-level athletes train within 4-6 week period and can be adapted easily for business. Shorter goal times + highly focused tasks get you there way faster.
- 12-Week Year pros: deadlines are close & give a sense of urgency, you're forced to confront the holes in execution, it narrows your focus & you have quick 12-week wins.
- Time Blocking - It's critical to schedule weekly, committed, and uninterrupted time blocks to action out your priorities. Seriously...you've heard about this for AGES. Set aside time to work ON your business, not IN it all the time.
- Break it down - Your 12-Week Year needs to break down into weekly plans. It's not a to-do list. Instead, these are "critical strategic activities that need to take place to achieve your goals." say Morgan & Lennington. "It's a derivative of your 12-week plan."
- Staying Accountable - No one likes deadlines, but they sure do light a fire under us! Attach due dates to all your actions steps and include who is responsible for them, so they get done.
"There's a gap between what we know we should do, and what we are actually willing to do. This knowing-doing gap is what keeps most people and most companies from accomplishing what they are capable of." Morgan & Lennington
Starting to run my business with the practical steps of the 12-week year definitely helped me to see were the holes are in my systems.
For example, I've been blogging for about 4 years, two to four times per month. I love writing and want to produce more helpful content for the spa industry, but I get bogged down with my time, sharing my content to my email list, and across social media channels.
Blogging is ultimately a lead generation strategy, so it goes without saying, if I don't distribute new content regularly and widely, my inbound leads will be lower than if my blog was posted to all my social media channels once per day.
Interestingly, since writing my 12-week plan, I've realized if I want to produce more blogs or offer more free webinars AND be available for my existing clients, I have even less time than I though I did.
My 12-week plan showed me I have a glaringly large gap in my system, a place that quickly breaks down without support. It's an easy fix, now that I see it; I've hired a virtual assistant to take care of my distribution so I can focus on working with clients and creating opportunities for business growth.
For me, The 12-Week Year is one of those books that's life altering; it's another step in the direction of simplicity in business.
You may remember a commitment to you and myself in January - to simplify our business this year.
Simplify it so we can see opportunities and weakness more clearly. Then we can create great strategies & action steps that are supported for success.
Simplify it so we can move quickly on critical tasks that move us towards our much-dreamed-of goals, without distraction.
Simplify it so we can repeat the processes that give us significant ROI, rather than waste time chasing ideas that give minimal rewards.
Simplify it so we can strip away the mental clutter to be better organized, focused, clear and confident. That ultimately helps us achieve the spa revenues that can provide us with a career and lifestyle that's meaningful to us.