“If you are not now making the progress you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined.” - Paul J. Meyer
When I first read this quote by Paul J. Meyer, I struggled with it. I felt it was an oversimplification and didn’t give it much more attention. For those of you who know me now, you know that my opinion has changed 180°.
Stating what we want (personally and professionally) is foundational to attainment and achievement. Putting our goals into writing, creating and acting on a plan, visualizing the results, and measuring our progress is how we ensure our success.
One of my favorite Goal Setting tools is the Monthly Planner. The Monthly Planner forces me to focus on what’s important, plan longer term, prioritize, and schedule my action steps. If you are looking for a tool to assist you, I encourage you to get into a habit of using these steps and planner.
Jeffrey A. Johnson
LMI Chicago Inc.
Monthly Planning Steps
1. Block time at the end of each month to plan the upcoming months.
2. Record your Mission/Purpose and identify your most important
personal and business goals.
3. Prioritize your top personal and business goals.
4. Plan the actions you will take to achieve your goals.
5. Set up a tracking method to measure your progress.
6. Schedule blocks of time for your action steps.
7. Share your plan with those people who need to know and who will
help you make progress towards your goal.
To help you in your own planning process, we've created this free one-page Monthly Planner. Download it now and make faster progress toward your goals!
How to Use the Monthly Planner for a High-Impact Month
Start by identifying your overall Mission or Purpose. This will be your North Star as you plan your month and will help keep you pointed in the right direction.
Next, specify what goals you want to focus on in each area of your personal life, as well as identifying business goals. You are a whole person and as much as we try to compartmentalize work from personal, you still only have so much energy and so much time every month, so it's important to think about your goals all together. Once you have defined your goals, prioritize them. Prioritizing your goals will help you know what to work on first, and it will help you make tough decisions about what to focus on as you run into challenges, roadblocks, and unexpected limitations throughout the month.
Take it one step further and rewrite your top 3 goals and prioritize those as well. If you can only focus on one thing this month, what should it be? If you can focus on two what should they be?
Now that you have identified what your top three most important goals are, you want to define your High Payoff Activities. What are the things you should be doing that will have the biggest impact on moving you forward and helping you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. The High Payoff Activities list takes your goals and gives you actionable steps toward each one.
It would be great if we could spend all of our time working on High Payoff Activities, but there are other things that come up in our lives as well that have to be attended to. Whether it is an urgent request from your boss, a social function you need to attend, there are things that are highly time-sensitive that just have to be completed. List those things on the Imperative Project List, along with a delivery date. Do the same thing with things that are perhaps less urgent, and are very important in terms of contributing to your High Payoff Activities, listing them in the Important Project List. Include target dates here as well. Now you have a full picture of the things that you must do this month, as well as the things that will help move you forward and you can plan your time so that you can make everything happen.
Why does planning make such a difference? It forces you to stop and think about what is actually important to you, allowing you to be proactive instead of reactive. It also gives you the opportunity to think about what you can realistically get done in the next month, accounting for both your goals and your obligations. We as humans have a tendency to think that things take a lot less time than they really do, and if you don't take the time to plan, all too often you may get to the end of the month having accomplished things that everyone else wanted from you but feeling frustrated that you haven't made progress toward the goals that are most important to you.
Planning lets you take control of your time and focus your work so that you are always making progress toward the things that matter most to you.