Monday, April 12, 2010

4) Failing to Plan = Planning to Fail


t’s said that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Analyze this.  Think about it, if you fail to plan, you do not have a plan.  If you don’t have a plan, then how can you increase your chances of success?  Anything worth having is worth working for.  You’re already working hard; why?

What do you want out of life?  (Listen to The Tubes’ song What Do You Want From Life).  You’re already putting a lot into life; what do you want?  What do YOU want?  Security?  Love?   Companionship?  Money?  Power?  Revenge?  To take care of your parent or child?  To be rich?  Famous?  To lose weight?  To pay your bills on time?  To vacation?  A private island?  To not be a bag lady?!  Get in touch!  Trust yourself.  Follow your path.

Generally, you’ll value those things for which you worked, more than those for which you did not.  Do you really want to count on dumb luck for success (like a lottery - although see our website in case you win - especially if trusting yourself has lead you to win in the past), or are you willing to take your bull by the horns?  Think sales: people associate value with price.  If the price is high so is the perceived value.  You’re already paying a high price; why not plan your hard work to get what you want?!

Values.  What’s important to you?  Achievement?  Security?  Independence?  Honor?  Integrity?  The Kids?  Your marriage?  Your home?  Your business? Your career?  Your body?  Your health?  What people think of you?!  What you think of yourself?!  Feel about it.

Mission.  Your Mission is kind of how you like to do things.  Mission always wins over goals, so don’t fight your Mission.  If your goal is to be President of your company but you can’t take stepping on toes as you climb the corporate ladder, you probably won’t be President.  Know thyself; be true to thine self.

Goals.  If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know where to go?  Are you going anywhere?  How do know when you get there?  Andrew say, “You can’t get where you’re going if you go somewhere else!” - Where ya going?

When you know, you can plan to get there.   But on this night, how does one eat this elephant?  You may be tempted to feel overwhelmed; rest easy, rest confident, breathe, focus, remember your goal frequently, use affirmations.  Use objectives; eat your elephant one bite at a time.

Objectives.  Objectives are the step-by-step actions you take to systematically pursue your goals.  MBO (Management by Objectives) was developed during WWII and brought back to corporate business.  This lead to the economic and corporate growth of the 1950s, you know, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.

Think about the Allies’ goal of taking back Paris: first, they took ‘Hill 238’, then ‘Hill 239’, etc. until they entered Paris.  Manage by objectives.

            Plan.  Do you have a success plan?  A plan for systematically accomplishing your life and/or short-term goals, with a little wiggle room?

Like most things in life, planning and organizing is 80% of the chore.  Look at, and digest, what we’ve already discussed!  Think about the guy who used to go on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to set the world domino record.  He had to get the attention of the producers, book the gig and negotiate money, ship his dominos or arrange for a sponsor to deliver them; he had to decide what to wear on air and while setting up the dominos, he had to decide how to be prepared for problems like an unlevel floor or vibration during the show that could topple them early, book a flight, pack, get to/from the airport, check-into a hotel, get to the studio & visit the set, set up, change, perform and celebrate before going home - and maybe capitalizing on the publicity.  PHEW!  He’d spend 6 hours that day setting up the dominos so that when they went on the air, they’d topple in 4 minutes.  But he did it.  Line up your gig and line up your dominos.

Getting started is the hardest part (‘the first step is the hardest’).  When you have started, remember to congratulate yourself.

Review Your Plan.  Do your short-term goals lead to your long-term goals?  If you have to run errands, line them up in some order: geographical, chronological, something logical or efficient (expedient; doing it fast, few problems) and effective (doing the RIGHT things efficiently).

Prioritize. What if the Allies took Hill 239 before 238 or didn’t have air support or ammunition or tanks?  What about Joe Mancuso’s Entrepreneurs’ credo of ‘Ready, FIRE, Aim’?

I recommend the following outline for prioritizing:

1.    Emergency Management - deal with your emergencies first so that you can focus on your longer-term goals and responsibilities.

2.    Inventory & Systems Management:

a.    Take Inventory - Figure out from where you’re starting (e.g. Assets (what you own), liabilities (what you owe), budgets, credit, schedules, responsibilities.)

b.    Develop/establish a system for dealing with your day-to-day activities.  (When a woman gets home at the end of the day, do you know what she probably does the minute she closes the door behind her?  She takes off her shoes.)  We all have systems of which we’re not even aware; recognize them and become conscious.  Do you open the mail before you take off your coat?  Where do lay/open the mail?  How do you divvy it up?  Where do you put the bills?  When do you pay the bills?  How do you pay the bills?  How do you keep records?  Do you reconcile your bank account?  How do you keep tax records?  Where do put paid bills and tax records?  How long do you keep records? 

3.    Risk Management - figure out how to not fall backward

a.    Common Sense (the least common type) & Con’t Ed

b.    Emergency Funds (cash in the bank)

c.    Credit Availability (the right type & amount, managed responsibly)

d.    Insurance (transfer the big risks to another; OPM - other people’s money)

4.    Long-term Goals (short, medium, long)

Implement.  You have a plan, just do it.

And congratulate yourself, again, for starting - the hardest part.  The first step is the hardest.

Balance.  You have to balance everything to be healthy or successful.  Ride the bicycle.

You need balance between being & doing, living for today & planning for tomorrow, saving & spending, waking & sleeping, working & playing, eating & exercising, Mind-Body & Spirit and that human creation called money: Assets (what you own) & Liabilities (what you owe) - a Balance Sheet; Income & Expense (Income Statement - helpful for budgeting & tax planning) and Inflows & Outflows (a Cash-flow Statement - helpful for gauging WHEN money goes in and out).  The planets have balance for spinning, the Earth has balance between night & day, the moon & tides, sowing & reaping.  Practice balance.  Practice balance like in yoga.  Practice.  (That’s how you get to Carnegie Hall.)

When you get there, take notice.  Matt say, “If you ain't where you at, you no place”.  Be there.

Manage Expectations.  Remember Murphy’s Law?  Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong (and usually at the worst possible time).  Well don’t forget Schwartz’s Corollary: Murphy was an optimist!  So build in wiggle room and flexibility.  Try to foresee what could go wrong so that you’re not surprised and already have a B-plan.  Plan for the worst, Hope for the best.

There was a study in the 1970s that concluded that everything takes 2.8 times longer to do than you think it will.  Build in extra time.  But don’t forget Parkinson's Law: work expands to fit the time allotted to it.  So set timelines and deadlines and coordinate them.  Think about ‘who moved your cheese?  Stay loose.  Ride the wave.  When you’re good or lucky, ‘hang 10’.  The only constants in life are death, taxes, and change.  Adapt; embrace change.

Mindset.  The above actions are management functions, so start being a manager.  Think of yourself as the CEO of your personal business (not your professional career).

Your personal business is just that - YOUR personal business (as long as your actions don’t infringe upon the rights of others).  It includes things like how you like to dress (clothes that can be laundered or dry-cleaned?), travel (subway or cab?), dine (cook or delivery?), vacation (Jersey Shore or Paris?).

At Simons Financial Network, we work for executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, ‘artistes’ as their Personal Business Managers - their personal CFOs (Chief Financial Officers).  For one fee, we run our clients’ financial lives as their Trusted Family Advisor performing banking, bill-paying, budgeting, cash-flow management, credit rehab & management, negotiating credit rehab and home & car purchases, record-keeping, financial & estate planning, insurance & investment oversight, tax planning & preparation, entrepreneurial counseling and additional customized or special services.  The client gets to focus on earning & spending their money while we handle the middle step of managing it.  We advise, you decide - you’re the CEO.

You can pay us a fat, possibly tax-advantaged fee to do it for/with you - and often it makes sense to delegate (another management function) - or you can do it yourself.  But it needs to be done.  And it implies having to make difficult decisions.  As the CEO, you are responsible to your stakeholders: yourself, your family, maybe others, maybe society.  You may have to make difficult decisions, such as buying the kids clothes or taking cabs, manicures or eating out.  This is where your values come in (tempered by common sense, such as a cab late at night for safety) and you may have to choose between two equally hard, distasteful options like bankruptcy or high debt payments and a second job and no time.  But you’re the CEO; someone has to make the decisions.  Not making a decision or not taking action is a decision.  Take out some of the emotionality and make the tough decisions.  Get used to it.  Practice decision -making.  It gets easier and it feels good.  Learn to say ‘no’ at least once a day.

Monitor & Manage.  You have to watch what’s going on.  Is it working?  How might you tweak it to make work a little better or smoother?  Or prettier, or faster, or simpler, or easier?  Tweak it.  Or leave it alone on purpose, not by ignoring it.  Is income big enough to cover your budget?  Where can you cut back?  How can you earn more?  How can you earn the same, but be happier in your work?

Sometimes, you’ll have to cope.  Sometimes, you’ll feel like a cork swept away by the river’s current.  When that happens, just keep your head above water, watch the rocks (emergencies) and flow with it the best you can.  Down the river, you’ll have learned to guide what’s now a kayak and, although the current still takes you, you’ll be able to steer - including to the bank.  THE bank - your ‘wealth bank’.

How do you define wealth?

Make a plan.  Ride the bull, ride the wave; hang 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment