January 4, 2022

Episode 20: Plan for success

You’ve set a goal for 2022, and you have a rough idea of what you need to do to reach it. That’ll be good enough to implement, you think. Famous last words... In this series of 5 episodes, I show you how to work on your goal in a way that makes it so much more likely that you reach it. Today, we’re looking at how to create an action plan that actually helps.

What you will discover

  • The three ways we sabotage our goal right from the get go
  • Why your plan can lead you to failure, or to success
  • How to transform your obstacles into the best strategy


Mixed and produced by Adrien Grenier

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Episode Transcript

Hi, and welcome to the Excellent Rider podcast. I'm Mélanie, I'm a certified life coach and I specialize in helping people like you get things done, find ease and motivation again and get unstuck when it feels like you've lost your. Last week, we talked about setting a goal.

And so this week I will assume that you have a goal and I will explain to you, how do you organize your action plan so that it helps you to reach your goal instead of being a burden or a problem, or non-existent . Very often what happens when we have a goal is that we don't plan. So we don't get very clear on what needs to happen for us to reach our goal.

For example, let's imagine that you want to lose some weight. And we are in the beginning of January and it's a very popular topic usually; it's a famous New Year's resolution. So let's imagine that you want to lose a few kilos. So you have a set number of kilos you want to lose, in a given time. What's very typical is that you will not prepare a meal.

You will not prepare a typical meal to get an idea of what it is that you need to eat from now on, in order to lose the weight. So you're not going to prepare a dish with the right number of calories or the right mix of nutrients or the right quantities. What it means is that you don't really consider pragmatically and in the details, what is actually needed for you to make that kind of food happen on your table at every meal until the end of, until you have reached your target.

So maybe in your mind, it's about not eating candy anymore, and adding a little bit more broccoli; but there are probably some more fundamental changes that you need to make to how you buy groceries and how much time you spend preparing meals and who prepares your meals and these kinds of things.

So when you don't really plan, you're not making it possible for you to really understand what's really needed in order for you to reach your goal. And so you're setting up yourself for failure because of course, you're not going to be able to do the right things or you're going to do them and it's going to require too much effort.

And so that's the best way to give up. Or another mistake we make is that we plan, but at a too high level. So we don't really consider what needs to happen every day. So let's take an example. Let's imagine that you are a freelance and you want to have a hundred clients by the end of the year, but you don't really calculate what it means per week.

So you don't really realize that this requires two new clients per week. If you want to have a hundred clients at the end of the year, maybe a little bit more if you intend to take some vacation. And if you tend to have a conversion rate of one client for every 10th person you speak to. So it means for every time you speak to 10 people, you sign one client.

Well, having two new clients per week requires that you will need to spend time speaking with 20 people every week and probably also improve your conversion rate, but that's another story. But so when you make a more detailed plan like this, when you break down your plan to understand what do you need to do every month, every week, every day, that makes it so much more feasible for you because suddenly you understand the kind of effort you're going to need to make in order for you to reach your goal.

So the three mistakes we tend to make when we have a goal is either we don't plan - that's very typical - or we plan at too high level. And the third mistake that we tend to do is that we plan for what we need to do.

So we plan for the best case scenario for the days when everything is going to go according to plan, but we don't plan for what to do when things go wrong. So we don't anticipate that life will probably happen and things will probably not happen as you have anticipated. And so it's good to have a backup plan, to have a plan B, to anticipate that you might procrastinate, to anticipate that you might suddenly have a sick child that you need to spend time with.

And so you're not able to have the time you wanted to set aside on whatever project it is that you're working, etc. etc. So this specific thing, making the plan B we will talk about in a couple of episodes from now, but today what I want to focus on is plan A, so how do you organize your action plan so that it actually helps you understand what you need to do every day and helps you make it happen?

So the first thing you're going to do is that instead of starting by planning everything that needs to happen, what you're going to do is that you're going to start by listing all the things that are preventing you from having your result. So you're going to take your goal and you're going to list for yourself, all the reasons why you don't already have this result in your life.

So for example, if you're trying to lose some weight, you're going to list that the reason you are not at your goal weight right now, is maybe that you tend to eat candy when you come home in the evening, maybe you don't exercise at all. And maybe you don't have a lot of time in your day, so it's difficult to cook and so you tend to order takeout and that tends to have a bit more calories than you should probably eat. Right? So, so you you're listing the reasons why you're not yet at your goal weight. If you're freelance and you want to have a hundred clients by the end of the year, why don't you already have 100 clients by the end of the year - by the end of last year?

Perhaps you just literally started, but then in that case you can ask yourself why don't I already have two clients by the end of last week, right? So figure out what are all the reasons you find and the reasons are not, I'm not talking about trying to call yourself on excuses or anything like that.

I'm just talking about what are all the reasons, valid or excuses or whatever; all the reasons that you see that are preventing you from already having this result in your life right now. And that list, I'm going to call this the list of obstacles. So these are the obstacles to your goal. We're going to use that as the basis for your action plan.

Because once you have a clear idea of how you're going to remove all of these obstacles from your path, it's going to be a clear and open path to your goal, and you're going to reach your goal and it's not going to be a big deal.

So the trick is really to use the list of obstacles, the list of problems, the list of things preventing you from having your results right now as the basis for the strategy you're going to adopt in order to reach from goal. And it's amazing because it means that in case you have a goal that you have no clue on how to reach, this is already giving you a very, very clear direction on how to reach it and what to do.

So you're going to take your list of obstacles and then your job is going to brainstorm all the ways that you can make each of the point on that list go away. So let's imagine that, uh, there's a big mountain in front of you. That's the obstacle.

You're going to brainstorm all the ways that you can get to the other side. If the objective for you is to get to the other side.

So you could climb the mountain, you could fly over it, and there's many different ways to fly over it. You could go around the entire chain of mountain to get to the other side. You could dig a tunnel. Uh, maybe you don't really need yourself to be on the other side. So you could find somebody who is already on the other side to do whatever it is that you wanted to do.

These are just a few ideas that I have very quickly in two minutes, brainstorming for how to get to the other side of the mountain. And then you're going to take each of those possible solutions. And you're going to look at how could you make that possible? And the key here is really to stay open-minded.

Your brain is going to want to tell you all the reasons why it's not possible. And at this stage, we're not looking into whether it is possible or not. It is a desirable or not. It is feasible or not. We're just looking at what would it require. And when you look at it from this angle, you're going to open up for solutions.

And you're going to open up for ideas that you didn't have before. Because otherwise what happens is that your brain excludes this idea and tells you, oh, it's impossible to fly over the mountain; just stop thinking about it. And so you don't tap into your creativity and your resourcefulness and you don't find ways to make it happen.

So if you just look at it from the angle of what would it require for this to happen? You suddenly will notice that you, you can find, and you can access a number of solutions that you didn't have in mind. And it doesn't mean that you're going to in the end, use all of these solutions, but it will suddenly create a lot of solutions where right now you only see impossibility.

So, let me give you a real life example of what this could look like. Let's imagine that you dance salsa and you would like to create a website for salsa beginners so that they can learn more about the dance; find ideas of activities they can do in order to find a regular dance partner; or dance locations where they could do go and practice and dance.

That's your, that's your hobby and that's your plan and this is what you would like to do. So the first thing you're going to do is that you're going to make a list of all the reasons why you have not yet created this website. And let's say that there are three main reasons.

The first one is that you have no idea how to create a website. You've never done this. You don't even know where you should go to buy a website name, you know nothing. And then the second reason is that you are not a professional dancer. You don't know much about dance, you're a beginner yourself, so you're afraid that more advanced dancers might find your website ridiculous, or that they might be pissed off with whatever you write. And then the third reason is that it's difficult for you to find time in your busy agenda, to actually sit down and write the texts for the website and all the different things that you need to do.

And you have a small child and it's winter right now. And so it happens very frequently that your child is sick and sick as a child is; meaning not healthy enough to be in school, but definitely full of energy and needing your full attention.

So, these are the three reasons that you have for not having yet created this website. So your action plan is going to be addressing these three items one after the other. So let's look together at what this could look like. So the first one is you don't know how to create a website. So the first thing is that you can brainstorm: when I don't know how to do something, what do I typically do? And very quickly a few ideas could be that you could Google how to create a website. You could ask someone. And if you think about it for a few minutes, you notice that, oh yeah right, my cousin has a good friend who is a IT developer, so maybe I could ask that person to help me with some ideas or pointers of what to do.

You could delegate the creation of a website to somebody else. And if you think about it, maybe you find somebody who might be interested in doing that. There's probably more ideas and these are just the ones I come up with live with you in 20 seconds.

Then the second one is that you're afraid that more advanced dancers might look at your website and be pissed off. And so that's sort of puts a break on your ambition to create the website. So what could you do about that? Brainstorm a few ideas. Well, you could decide that you don't care.

You could perhaps befriend a couple of more advanced dancers and ask them to review the website before you publish it. You could partner with a more advanced dancer and write it together so that there would be a information for more advanced dancers as well. Or maybe the more advanced dancers will be interested to contribute so as to have more new partners to dance with.

Maybe you could write your website in a way that makes it very clear that it's just an opinion and not a definite expert advice on what to do regarding dance. Maybe you could put a form on your website where it's possible to give you feedback so that you can improve as you go along, etc. etc. So there's many things also that you could do there.

And then the last one is that it's difficult for you to find the time in your busy agenda. And on top of this, you have this uncertainty of whether you're going to have time because you need to look after your kid. So if you brainstorm there, well, maybe that you can decide that you're going to write some of the website content as you have lunch at work. Maybe you can decide also that you can set aside a little bit of time, like 20 minutes every evening - just before you go to bed, or three times a week.

You can also decide that you're going to work on it all of next Sunday. And what do you do when you have a very important thing to do and you cannot take your kid along? Well, you usually find a babysitter; or maybe you have somebody from your family or friend who can take care of your kid.

And so you ask them for that same favor and you treat your project with the same kind of importance as if it were you going away for a conference for work for example.

So these are the idea that I come up with brainstorming very quickly as we are speaking on this topic. But if you spend a little bit more time, and if you set aside a couple of hours to really brainstorm, what are your obstacles; what are the strategies you can use to get over your obstacle?

Maybe you can even brainstorm them with a friend that after you're done brainstorming them by yourself. You're going to come up with a very clear idea of what you need to do in your action plan.

And then out of all these possibilities, what you're going to do is that you're going to list out the ones that actually sound feasible, sound desirable to use. These are the kinds of things that you want to engage with and you put them on your plan.

And then you can look at your action plan and you can just finetune it and just ask yourself, is there anything else that I need to do in order to create the result that I want, which is not listed on that list. And it could be one or two things, but usually you will notice that you have covered most things and that you have a fairly good plan in order to deliver your result.

So then the last step - very important - is to block time in your calendar in order to do these things. So for example, in my example, I said, I would block some time one Sunday, and then 20 minutes before going to bed, and then a few lunchtimes; I would block that directly in my calendar.

And what's important is to write on each time block, not just the generic project. So don't just write "website". Write the specific thing that you expect yourself to deliver in that specific time, because otherwise, what will happen is that the task will take forever, or you will give yourself forever to complete the project.

But if you know that on Monday, you're expected to write the welcome page; on Tuesday, you're expected to write the page on how to find a partner to go dancing salsa, et cetera, et cetera, you will constrain yourself and you will do your best effort in the time that you have available, which means that you will have at least a first draft very soon ready and available to send out for review, for discussion, and for improvement.

If you found this episode helpful, go to my website excellentrider.com - that's Excellent Rider in one word dot com - to get the episode notes. They're organized in a structured way that makes them easy to remember. And I always add powerful questions and exercises to help you apply these concepts to your specific situation.

If you want to help the podcast, the best way is to share it with other people, either by leaving a review or by tipping a friend about it. Thanks a lot for listening today! And remember that even when you can't get yourself to do what you want; even when you're stuck in negative emotions and unpleasant thought loops;

and even when you don't believe it - especially when you don't believe it: you're not broken. You're not flawed. You're not jinxed. You're just learning how to be an excellent rider. There are no bad horses, only untrained riders.

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