LIVING BEYOND EXPECTATIONS
From the Desk of Sarah Nadler Troutdale, Oregon
This week, I want to help you turn your big hairy 'someday' dreams, hopes and goals...
...into a practical plan with daily to-do's.
See, we all have 'em: those pie-in-the-sky dreams, castles in the air, daydreams of mansions or beaches or Ferraris.
But how do you build a bridge across the wide chasm between your someday...and NOW?
Let's find out:
So, you made all these plans for your life, or your relationship, or business...
But they seem soo far away.
Maybe your life now looks very, very different than the one you imagine, and you aren't quite sure what steps to take FIRST, or next, to get you there.
Or, if you're like me, you spent a lot of years dreaming...and reading and learning - but never actually TRIED the things you studied! (because fear, self-doubt or haters held you back)
But now you're ready to stop dreaming and start DOING!
...but, where do you start?
For those who are new to the blog, Sarah Nadler is a Life Coach & inspirational speaker with twelve years of experience helping clients reach relationship, career and Big Hairy Audacious life goals. Her work has been featured on Enterprise Podcast Network, ABC & Fox News, and her latest book Get Married, Stay Married...Live Happily Ever After was reviewed on NY Weekly.
Before you can succeed in reaching any goal, you first need to set one. At this stage, it is extremely important to tell your 'practical', Debbie-Downer mind to take a hike - and just focus on painting the most accurate & detailed picture you possibly can of what an ideal day in that life would look like.
First, you have to have a goal. I know that sounds idiotic, but having this fully written up, with specific details of what you want - is absolutely necessary to accomplishing it!
Here is a question I commonly use with clients: If you had all the time and money in the world, and the complete support of all your family & friends, what would you be doing with your life?
In other words, stop letting other people set the expectations. Put your mind on the situation in life that YOU want, and persist until you make it happen.
Dreams are the stuff of which life is made.
They are the fuel that keeps us burning - and the first step toward death is the moment when you decide to give up on your dreams.
So don't go down that road. Just decide what YOU want your life to look like!
But because there are numerous parts to life, it isn't enough to just look at what life would benefit YOU. The best goals are the ones that also help your family, relationships, friends, community...and even humankind.
Fulfillment in life can also be affected by lack of companionship of pets, your connection to the world around you (having material things) and even the houseplant in your kitchen.
So don't skip this step, or rush it.
Truly take the time to map out your ideal day, your ideal life - and how you would be contributing to and cooperating with all areas of the world around you, including the physical, mental & spiritual well-being of others.
There are three types of planning you need to focus on, in order to actually take a big dream or major goal and carve it up into doable targets that your mind can actually tackle.
That is the key - if you set your targets too high, they become self-defeating.
But if you make them just small enough that each one seems super easy, you can make any goal realistic and doable!
You have your goal written down. Now, it's time to get strategic about how to accomplish it.
#1 - Strategic Planning
Strategy means taking goals and setting priorities to accomplish them. It means determining what actions should be taken to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources).
Simply by mapping out on paper where you are NOW, and where you want to get TO, you can find between them the major milestones or targets that need to be accomplished. It is the broad strokes - the big steps, that make up Strategic Planning.
#2 - The One Big Thing
Next, you need to figure out the one big thing you should be working on in your business right now, to make significant progress toward your goal.
This is the science and art of writing programs - and it is this skill and tool that makes members inside my private coaching program so successful.
Compare where you are right now in your business, with that ideal day / ideal life you mapped out in the goal-setting step. You're looking for the greatest departure from the ideal scene.
The ability to write a business plan based around just one big thing is another skill taught inside my online course.
#3 - Writing Effective To-Do Lists
The most common mistakes made by new or inexperienced entrepreneurs are either ineffective to-do lists, or none at all! When the business owner sets a goal, and sits down with their executive team to map out a strategic plan to accomplish it, including a written business plan of the first major milestone (one big thing)...all this takes hours of work and preparation.
An entrepreneur who cannot then turn that into monthly, weekly and daily to-do lists for themselves, and written orders to juniors, is WASTING hours and hours of proper planning.
The accomplishment of the goal utterly depends upon the execution of the written plan. Without effective to-do lists, nothing gets done.
Either the entrepreneur smooshes monthly, weekly and daily all into one massive to-do list...and drive the team into apathy or go into overwhelm...
Or the entrepreneur never writes a to-do list and written orders in the first place, leading to verbal orders or sticky notes that easily go missing, and nothing gets done until it is a screaming emergency!
Both cause undo stress for the team, the executives AND the owner.
How to Do It Correctly
The correct way to create to-do lists is to start with a monthly list. Based on the written business plan, it should outline what needs to be accomplished this month to make progress on the overall plan...and in the direction of the goals.
Next, at the beginning of each week the executive would take items off that monthly list and assign them as to-dos in writing to the team, and for themselves.
And each morning, the executive and each team member would start the day with a written list of the to-dos they need to accomplish based on their weekly list.
By breaking each major goal down into these 'bite-sized' pieces, the executive and team can avoid undo stress and overwhelm.
Try it and see.
Here is a video of how I do that in my own business & life:
Now, you're probably wondering, how do I make sure all my to-do's actually get done...and hold myself accountable?
Well, guess what: when you have a dashboard like the one I keep, you can't fool yourself anymore.
You need to have measurable yardsticks in your life & business - so you can't cheat, but also so you can stop beating yourself up over nothing.
That's what statistics do: they make you face the facts.
If you're running your business based on your 'gut', your heart, or your instincts alone...you're going to make mistakes.
Leaving your entire livelihood up to chance isn't a wise choice!
Or maybe you don't even trust your gut anymore, because you've made so many mistakes that you're now using the "throw it all at the wall and hope something sticks" method.
It's heartbreaking to watch a business owner do this, because the solution is so simple.
Statistic management, coupled with the exact formulas of what to do when the numbers go up or down, takes about 90% of chance out of running a business.
Common business advice tells us that of all the statistics you could measure, only a few are key to the success of your business at any given time.
The difficulty lies in choosing the right ones, but it is actually quite simple.
If you have completed steps one and two, choosing the right KPIs for your business will be easy - all you need is to decide which numbers will speak the loudest.
In other words, let us say your goal is to hit $1M in revenue this year. Right away we see that Revenue is one of your KPIs.
Or perhaps you are running a nonprofit, and your goal is to serve 100k children with educational materials this year. Your first KPI then would be 'Number of Children Reached'.
Breaking this down further, we create a list of ALL the lower-echelon statistics you will need to measure your progress toward Revenue, or toward Number of Children Reached.
In other words, what needs to happen for you to make revenue? Well, you need a certain number of clients, or a certain amount of delivery and fulfillment. Those would be your other KPIs.
Congratulations! You now have numbers to keep track of. Lol.
And you could put them all in a spreadsheet, or keep your finances in QuickBooks, your sales numbers in your CRM and the rest on sticky notes...
(but that system sucks)
So let me show you how I create a dashboard to make my KPIs visible every month...
...and how that helps me battle depression and imposter-syndrome in my business!
You see, if you're anything like me, you probably have the tendency to panic every once in a while.
I'm not making any impact in life.
Are we going to be able to pay the bills this month??
Why do I work so hard...nothing ever seems to make a difference!
I remember the third month after I started my own coaching business. I had been working in corporate as a business consultant, and decided it was time to strike out on my own...and then COVID hit.
I completely panicked!
Halfway through the month, I almost gave up completely.
Luckily, my hubby Ben talked me out of it, but I still finished the month out totally certain that I must be the worst business owner who ever existed.
Yet, when I added up the numbers and hit 'refresh' on my dashboard...I had highest-ever numbers in my business!
You read that right: the month COVID hit was my highest-ever month so far. And it has continued to go up from there.
The fact is: if I had listened to my panicking 'gut', I would have given up.
Instead, with the help of Ben I made the right business decision, and am soo grateful for it now!
If you've read this far you are probably wondering, well that's great, but how do I do it?
In order to start making smart business decisions, and not relying on your gut, your heart or instinct alone to see you through, you will first need a Customer Relationship Software (CRM).
This is a very important platform for any business, no matter what size!
It allows you to keep track of potential customers, send proposals or quotes, track whether they open it, and respond to them when they do. The best CRM software out there for professional service-based businesses is HoneyBook.
HoneyBook is the one I use, and it has automated workflows, branded emails and beautiful digital brochures that have helped me close clients month after month since I started my business!
It also works seamlessly with my email system, scheduling tool and website to limit the amount of repetitive nonsense I have to do.
Best of all, it has a basic accounting system, which I use in place of QuickBooks! So it actually saves me tons of money while making me more of it.
The other system I find incredibly useful for keeping track of numbers in my business is UseMyStats. They have a free and a paid version, but I have never needed to upgrade. The free version has complete functionality, but it is limited to 10 graphs.
This is the system I use to create my dashboard, which serves the dual purpose of keeping me pointed at my goals, and also boosting my morale when I need it, as I told you!
No matter what systems you use in your business, the most important thing is to keep your data in graphs, not just a spreadsheet or buried inside Quickbooks.
Only when you can see at a single glance whether you are making progress or not, will you be able to make smart business decisions.
A PASSION FOR ABLE PEOPLE
I'm Sarah Nadler and I help small business owners achieve work/life balance by increasing their revenues in a way that does not decrease their time.