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Expert advice: A new year resolution - short term plan or long term goals?

Written by Nigel Scott on .

Nigel ScottNigel ScottMost business owners are busy people. I know a lot of business owners, and very few of them have a lot of spare time every day.

We know, though, having a plan for what we do makes sense. Some of us are really good at this, while some of us – well let’s say we know we’d benefit from putting a bit more focus and work into having a plan.

But here’s the thing: for busy people, what’s the best way to use the limited time you have for planning? Should you focus on the short term, or think further ahead?

Short term, of course, is where the action happens, it’s where the fun stuff is. So it’s perhaps easier to think about planning for the short term (today, this week, perhaps this month).

Often this is mostly operational isn’t it – where do the team need to be on Tuesday, or what quotes have I got to get out before Thursday?

Organising the work in this way is of course a good thing – but it’s probably not going to change your world. Which begs the question – what exactly IS going to change your world?

The simple answer to the question at the top is: both. Have long term goals, backed up by a short term action plan, and then take action on your plan; this is the way that works for lots and lots of people. Here’s how to do it in six simple steps:

  1. Answer the WHY question first. Why are you in this business; what is really important for you, for your life, for your family? Whatever this is, the job for your business is to enable you to make this happen in your life.
  2. In the long term (you can decide what that is), what does your business need to be like so that your life is the way that you want it
  3. In the medium term (say half way from now to your long term), what needs to be true about your business so you can say that you’re ‘on track’?
  4. This year, what progress will you make?
  5. In the next three months, what are the most important 3 things that you will focus on, to get you moving towards the goals?
  6. This week, what action will you take on one of your top 3 things for the quarter?

We call this approach 5-3-1-90-7 i.e. from five years down to seven days, how will you focus your time on making things the way you want them?

Finally one of our clients recently reminded me that ‘motivation is not enough.’ It’s good to have a plan, and it’s great to feel motivated by what you want to achieve. But motivation can wear a bit thin, especially when we’re busy, or stressed, or tired, or distracted, or (insert your own reason here!).

So to back up the plan, we have to have action, discipline, habits and routines that make it really difficult not to do what we need to do.

Nigel Scott offers business and executive coaching in Wiltshire and Swindon. Contact him on 01672 512001 or via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.