Making it happen

“With grace, willingness and ease, dance with your intentions, watching them emerge. Looking back you will see how the dots joined themselves up beautifully, with little help” LM$ M$e

Careful sharing

I over share, I always have. I start telling people about my wildly enthusiastic plans, truly believing this would help me to make them happen and stick to them. I do believe in accountability which is why working with a coach helps, but you have to choose carefully who you share your plans.

Some people will listen with apparent interest, then start talking about themselves again.

Some people will interrupt frequently and try and give advice…whether you want it or not.

Some people will listen with their own agenda loud in their ears and don’t want you to succeed.

Some people will listen and then start a systematic criticism of your plans and vision.

Some people will just listen and then give a unconvincing supportive “oh that’s nice”

Some people will just tell you out and out that it just won’t work.

Some, just a few, will listen with interest and be supportive.

Sorry if that sounds negative but creative plans are delicate seedlings. How would those sort of reactions affect your motivation and plans?

Well for me, I immediately start doubting my plans and aspirations, which is helpful to a point. It makes sure we keep a grip on reality and can moderate any wildly unrealistic parts of our plans. I also get a very quick sensing whether I want to share with this person again; friendships have been made or broken by these conversations. Mostly I feel my spirit dampened and really start doubting my ideas and plans. I am a great fan of Chris Guillebeau, shares how we should listen to everyone and then take no notice of their advice. (Obviously that doesn’t include this advice…..keep reading:)

Share with a limited group of people who are encouraging, supportive and ask you helpful questions. Have a complimentary session with a coach to see if it would help (and it usually does).

Small is the new big
I used to be a fan of Big Hairy Audacious Goals with outlandish aims in what, it transpired, were unrealistic time spans. Getting used to the very slow nature of the world, has been a life long lesson. Reducing our expectations is very helpful, but setting small goals, taking small action, asking yourself small questions, is vastly undervalued.

When you are making plans, whether its to write a book, get back to work, lose weight or start a college course, start small. Small…really small, isn’t scary. Small doesn’t take much effort, time or money. Small can be so small that doing it is really easy. Let me give you an example. I paint…not as much as I would like and one of my constant moans is lack of time and opportunity. My mother, with whom I am great friends, often says to me, “Just set aside a hour a day Jen” but an hour is too much. An hour is not small.

My solution these days is too just wander into my studio and say to myself “What can I do right now for then next 5 or 10 minutes? (often whilst I am waiting for something else to happen, like my daughter using the bathroom). It works surprisingly well. Sometimes I just grab a pencil or biro and do a small sketch. Sometimes I might browse through a magazine and cut and stick some pictures of interest.

Small Step King Bob Maurer, gives another great example. He will often suggest to people who want to increase their fitness, but have never exercised before, that they just walk in front of the TV during the adverts for 1 minute to start with. Just 1 minute. YES! I can do that. Giving ourselves permission to do something very small, clears the way for doing it with very little resistance and often means we do a lot more! Once settled into my studio, convinced I am only there for 5 minutes or so, I find that an hour passes and suddenly a little voice says “are you going to tuck me in or not!”

I started doing small things, for the first time in my life about 2 years ago. It didn’t come naturally, trust me. We tend to value big steps, big statements and obvious achievement. But one thing I didn’t expect was that small steps seem to result in surprisingly large things happening: 5 minutes googling will find a new job; a short phone call results in a meeting or new opportunity; the smallest sketch turns into the greatest idea for a painting.

So small is the new big and it is so much easier than you expect. Make sure your plans include some really small steps.

Do what has worked in the past.
We often forget to look back and see what worked for us before. It is a very powerful thing to do.Think of something you completed or achieved in the past. It might be an exam, a 5k run, a job you got, a piece of work you had published, previous weight loss success, a DIY project or a presentation for work. Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you were not sure you could complete – something that really tested you but something you really wanted to do. Have you thought of something? Write it here:

Now ask your self these questions, and make some notes:

What obstacles did you overcome to achieve this?

What did you do? Write a step by step outline:

Summarize what you were happy with at the end.

Now look at your answers. What does this tell you? Can you see your strengths, where you persevered, got some help etc. Can you see what worked for you? If you made false starts, what worked better the next time? What are the obviously natural ways for you to do things?

These answers provide us with really helpful clues as to what works for us and what we should remember when making plans for future projects and goals.

If you know that getting up a bit earlier to do 15 minutes exercise before breakfast worked for you, would it help now?

If you know that getting advice and support from an expert helped before, would it help now?

If you know that you lost weight before by going to a slimming club and not keeping snacks in the house, would that help now?

If you know that working to a deadline set by someone else really helped you to focus, how might that help you now?

Another great question to ask yourself is this:

What do you know now, that you are going to find out in a years time?

I often ask my clients this great question and usually have to repeat it a few times before they get what I am asking. We often know how something is going to work out in the future. We often intuitively know how we might scupper our plans or what might hinder our progress or what might really help. We can often “see” into the future and make very good guesses based on our inner wisdom.

We should learn to trust this, but we often don’t listen to ourselves or actively ignore our intuition.

Use this space to write down some things which you know will make your plans stand the greatest chance of success:

Are you sabotaging your plans?
We all do sometimes. Inside us all is a saboteur who, often for good reason, tries to stop us achieving what we want. Here’s an example:

Julia has a great business idea, really unique, knows there is a market and has formulated a business plan and started to think how she would build a business. But the crucial phone calls she needs to make and the actual work that’s essential, is just not being done. She’s been productive though, making curtains, organising the kids parties “I’ve been so busy”. I coached her and she discovered that she had been making herself busy to avoid working on the business. But why? There were many reasons, most of them based on fears she discovered she had.

Fear of success: she was worried that if the business took off, she would be spending long hours away from her family. She was worried that her marriage would suffer and her friends may not like her as much if she became a success. She was scared that her enthusiasm may make her overwork and become ill and stressed out. Fear of failure: all the work just might not pay off. She could invest years of time and money which don’t yield results.

Our internal saboteur loves fear. He thrives on makes us do things so we avoid the possibility of our fears coming true. For Julia this means planning stuff that takes up the time she has to move the business forward, put off phone calls etc. She was making herself busy so she could fail in her business plans.

So what can we do about this and what has it got to do with making plans that work? Well if you find yourself putting off and not getting round to carrying out even the smallest of action steps you have made, give some real time to how you might be sabotaging your own plans. Here’s a great question to ponder:

What are the benefits of not achieving my goal?

Working with a life coach can help and if you want to contact a coach, let us know, we know some great OTcoaches.

Find a system that works for you
Are you a list maker? How’s that working out for you? Maybe you use Outlook Express diary alerts or your mobile phone. That works for some people, but not everyone.

Capturing your goals and plans, the big picture and the small steps is really important. Here are some ways that might help which you may not have thought about:

Mindmapping: you can use mind mapping to create the big vision and goals and capture the small steps. Putting in tick boxes on your actual mind map, means you can actually tick them off as you go. Here’s a lovely site Making Ideas Visable

A mind map does not have to be static – if it grows, add sheets to the edges and give yourself more space. Need a formal business plan? You can just take each branch of your mind map and type it up – hey presto, instant business plan.

Vision board and right brain business planning
Capture your vision in a collaged vision board. After you have created a vision board, you can turn your plans into reality using a right brain business planning process, such as Jennifer Lee’s process at Artizen Coaching If you are a creative thinker, this will help you avoid becoming bored with endless black and white word processed sheets. Get out the glitter glue instead! You are more likely to bring your plans to fruition this way – take my word for it.

Sticky note heaven
I have so many sticky notes at home – all shapes, colours and sizes. I use them to plan my year on my wall chart, my monthly targets and my daily to do list. Yes I even write a post it note reminding my self to go for a jog (aka as a walk!)

There is something satisfying about screwing up a sticky note once you have completed the task. They are great for managing flexible plans as you can move them around and change their priorities. You could even make an image of yourself, covered in sticky notes and remove a sticky note labelled “1kg” when you lose some weight! Get creative

Finding a flexible, dynamic way which helps you to plan and take action is a must. There are many free online tools to help, but figure out where you are a techo freak or work well with a traditional diary approach or need something more creative.

We hope you have enjoyed reading Making Plans that Work – feel free to share it with your friends and colleagues but let them know where it came from!