Do you have a Plan?

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Just before I started my online platform, “Helen Majaga International,” I thought I should registered the name first, because I wanted it to become a brand and place to serve and connect with people, and hopefully to be a channel that will open more opportunities for me as a writer and author, and other professional aspirations that I am looking forward to achieving.

When I went to register Helen Majaga International, they told me what I needed to do and gave me instructions of where to go online to get more information. Not knowing what to expect on my way back home, I was so excited, telling myself this should be easy…I have got this.

After I got home, I went online on their website, and read all the necessary information including the type of forms and the requirements for each type of business forms; you know… whether it is Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation. Of course, thanks to Google, I was also able to get more information to understanding all those things. And after reading all the information I wanted to know, it was time for me to fill out the forms. So I printed first the forms of statement of particulars to write information about the business, company, or organization. The first line was easy because you only need to write the name of the company, business, or organization that you want to register. So, I was like okay, and so I wrote. And then the second line said nature of the business. And I was like okay, but wait a minute, “what do you mean by saying nature of the business?’ So I typed on Google search box again, “What is the nature of the business for a writer and an author?” And as I continued to browse, it dawned on me; “I don’t have a business plan. I don’t have a detailed plan for what is it I am about to register!” What if there are more things to include to what this platform can do to what I am about to write on these forms right now? And then I said, “At this point I am not clear with the plan, let alone have it.”  By this time I remembered that phrase that says, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

And whoever said it, is right!

Planning is very important because a plan is like a map; it directs you where you want to go. Just as you need a map to get to your destination, you need a plan to achieve your goals. When planning you are basically specifying the goals to be achieved and deciding in advance the appropriate actions needed to achieve those goals.

Let’s say you want to go back to school to study for a Master Degree, and you decide to write down a plan that consist of smaller goals of how you are going to achieve your big goal which is getting your Masters degree. This plan therefore, is supposed to direct you, for instance; which institution to apply? When to start? How long it will take you until you graduate? How many classes to take each quarter or semester? How are you going to pay your tuition, and et cetera?

Now, the plan will only become valuable, when it is put into action, and follow through to getting the results you want according to the plan. But the same plan can be worthless if you don’t take action towards it, or if you quit along the way because of the roadblocks.

If you study most people who have been getting ahead professional and personal, you will find out that not only they consistently advancing themselves into different areas of their lives, they have goals and plans they follow through, and that’s why they are where they are right now. They have drawn the maps of where they wanted to be in one, five, ten, fifteen, even twenty years, and took action steps towards them.

Even for companies and organization; if you look around most successful competitive firms, are those that have been able to delivering their products and services successful, serving and adding more values to the society. And they couldn’t achieve their success without planning ahead of time and following through. These companies, organizations, or firms have various business plans, marketing plans, and strategic plans to help them manage their businesses.

Earl Nightingale in one of his famous quotes said, “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.” What an eye-opener…right?

Now, for business planning, there are online sites that have wonderful tools for us to use to write our business plans; sites like BPlans.com, or MPlans.com, or Vertex42.com, all of these have very useful information to help you get start with your business startup whether it is a small or large business. You can also decide to find and hire people who are experts and specializing in business writings and planning to help you with your needs and wants.

So, how do we plan for our personal goals in various areas of our lives so that we can also be successful? As usual, the best way to learn about something is to learn from those who have mastered what you want to know and in this case will be to establish the habit of planning and setting goals in order to achieve them.  I am not en expert, but I have done my research, and what I have already found out have helped me so far to achieving some of my goals, and I have many more along the way and on the process to accomplishing some of them. I have also already shared previously in brief about setting goals, but now I have another chance to write more in details about it.

Before you set up any goal, you have to know what you want first, right..? What do you want in your relationships? What do you want to achieve in your career? Do you have special places you would like to go or visit? What about your financial goals, what’s your desire net-worth or net-income, monthly, yearly? What about your health; do you want to lose weight and lower your cholesterol?

The first step to planning and setting up your goals is to determine what you want in your life. One way to find out about what you want is to imagine as if an angel of good news, angel “Gabriel,” came to you and said “Beloved child of God, you are highly favored. God has sent me to tell you to make a wish for three things in all areas of your life. Now close your eyes and make a wish and mention each of those three things; in your love life, financial life, health and fitness life, business or career life, personal, fun time, and so on, and when you wake up, I, angel Gabriel, will take you there.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful though? Hahaha..But, just imagine for one minute; what would you mention and tell angel Gabriel?

If it was me, I would say, “I want to be forever healthy; Mind, Soul, Spirit, and Body. I want to be surrounded with people who love me including my family. I want to be happy and filled with love all the time. I want to be listed on Forbes Magazine as one of the people who made at the top ten on the billionaires list. I want to own a house in every country, and have an airplane full loaded with oil or gas all the time to take me anywhere I want. I want to be physical fit and weight no less or more than 110 pounds.” I mean…I could go on and on.

Another way of knowing what you want is to noticing the things you don’t want in your life. Once I found out I was unproductive, and for the past few years I haven’t done anything worthwhile, this technique was the one that pushed me to want to be more productive. And so I decided I was going to make some changes in my life and learn what I need to learn in order to be more productive and achieve the things I thought I was supposed to achieve by now.

I also came to realize another reason that I was unproductive and unsuccessful was because I didn’t have plans or goals written down for what I wanted to be, having, and do.

Oh…yes, I knew what I wanted; but I didn’t have maps, in this case will be written plans with specific goals for me to follow through and achieve the things I wanted.

Therefore, the second step to planning and setting up your goals is to write down your goals. There is a power in writing down things. That’s why people have “To Do Lists,” or ‘take notes.’ Because they know, if they don’t write it down somewhere, only God knows if they will be able to remember some things. When you write things down, not only it helps you to remember things, you can be able to keep it with you for a long time and look at what you have written whenever you want.

Now, the experts have their own suggestions of how to write your goals. They say your goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound, or simply SMART. In addition, they must be clear, detailed as possible, must have a deadline but also somehow flexible. And when you write them, describe your goals in the present tense as though they had already been achieved.

Myself for instance; I weigh 125 pounds right now, but my ideal weight has always been 110 pounds. And the reason is, I think the ideal weight is perfect for my height. Therefore, my current weight loss goal is to lose 15 pounds by December 31st, 2016, and maintain it going forward. The way I have written my weight loss goal according to what the experts have suggested is; “I weigh 110 pounds by December 31, 2016.” And I have to say writing it that way has helped me focus on that ideal weight number, and each time I go through my goal, all I see is 110 pounds, as if I am already there.

What has also helped me to be clear with my goals and plans was to find true reasons why I want to accomplishing my goals. Why do you want to take a two-week vacation in Hawaii in July 1st to 14th 2017? Why do you want to start your own YouTube channel by January 1st 2017?  Why do you want to earn a net monthly income of certain amount by December 31st 2016? Once you find out your why, it will be easy for you to make your goals specific, clear, and detailed as possible.

The third step to planning and setting up your goals is to make the actual a plan. You can make a plan for each of your goals by organizing your list into a series of steps of everything you have to do to achieve your goals from the beginning through to the completion. Here is the place where you will write down all the action items you must do; knowledge, skills, and information you need to acquire in order to achieve your goals. Also, this is where you identify all the people may be able to help you realize your goals and dreams, and identify all the obstacles you have to overcome to achieve your goals. The more clear and detailed you are in when you plan your activities and tasks, the easier it will be for you to accomplish.

I have divided this third step of making a plan into three sub-sections.

The first one is to list all the steps you must take to accomplish your goals, or in other words, the action items. For instance your weight loss goal; one of the action items you can list is to exercise. But you also need to include when you want to exercise, what time, and where. Some people can only exercise very early in the morning before they go to work. Some people work in the night shifts, exercising in the morning wouldn’t be appropriate for them. Some people can afford to hire personal trainers, some people can’t, and therefore prefer to run every day, or just exercise at home through an exercise work-out video. Some people prefer to work out three times a week, some people every day. The second action item can be to come up with a meal plan for you to follow every week or month. There are lots of them you can search on Google for you to try until you get what works for you.

So it really depends with your goals.

And then the second sub-section is to list down the steps to measure the progress of your goals. So for the weight loss goal, one of them could be to weight myself on a scale every Sunday morning before I exercise or eat breakfast. Or you can say to take pictures of me, of before and after, each month. Another one can be to try that extra small dress to see if it fits you well now. And if it was a financial goal of saving a certain amount of money, you can say at each end of the month to check with the bank to know how much exactly so far you have saved and gained interest, and then compare it to what you should have saved or planned to save.

The last sub-section will be to write down steps to overcome challenges. Here you can list the people who you can rely for their support to help you, and the rest of things you can do to overcome your challenges. I have to be honest; waking up early for me has always been an issue, but I am way much better now than I used to be. When I started working out in the morning, I had to wake up very early than normal. Though I had an alarm clock to wake me up, but it didn’t help me because each time it rang I would just turned it off and go right back to sleep..hahaha. Thank God, I was living with a couple of very early riser people. So, I decided to ask them to wake me up very early so that I could have time to exercise in the morning.  Their support really helped me for the first couple of weeks until I was able to wake up very early by myself.  And now it has been a kind of a daily routine for me to wake up very early. I have now learned to discipline myself to wake up early, whether I like it or not.

And let’s say you also have a goal to buy your first house with cash or getting your first house mortgage. You can write one thing to overcome the challenge is to establish automatic money saving and investing system that restricts you to withdrawal the money until you reach your goal. Another thing you can write to overcome the challenge is to pay your bills on time for you to build up a good credit score, and et cetera.

If your goals are very big, set sub-deadlines for every step, activity, or task you have to accomplish. If you have a ten year goal, you can break it down year by year, and make a plan of how much you are going to do and accomplish each year.

And if for some reason you don’t achieve your goals by the deadlines, it’s totally okay. Goals must have deadlines, but also must be flexible to be able to adjust them.

The fourth and last step is to follow through your plans every day, week, and month. Plan the number of tasks you have to do and accomplish each day the evening before, each week the weekend before, and each month at the beginning of the month. Focus and concentrate on only those things that move you toward your goals.

Don’t worry about how long it will take to finish your goals; just plan them anyway.  I have recently printed this quote by Earl Nightingale to keep me reminded to never give up, and it says, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take you to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” So, it keeps me motivated.

Besides, the Bible in the book of Proverbs chapter 16 verse 3 also says, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.”

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