I decided to run a marathon this year.
Yes, I’ve run marathons before, but it’s been 29 years. So, I decided to find a training program to follow.
A plan if you will. So I’d know exactly what I need to do in order to successfully complete the marathon.
A few months into my training something interesting has happened.
I’ve been reminded of how important planning is.
When you’ve never done something (or you’ve forgotten how), having a written plan is what helps ensure your success. It’s pretty hard to just wing it when you’re not even sure what steps to take.
Having a plan helps you know what to do. It’s also what helps you monitor your progress.
Here are 10 things I’ve learned…
… or more accurately, have been reminded of, as I train for my marathon.
1) A plan maps out the steps to get me from where I am (in my case running 6 miles), to where I want to go (running 26 miles).
You can do the same in your business. Find, or create, a plan that meets you where you are and is designed to get you to your specific goal. It’s not always about doing what everyone else is doing. It has to “fit” you and your goals.
2) Printing out the plan and hanging it on the wall makes it easier to follow the steps.
I always tell my clients to hang their marketing plan where they can see it, so everyday they’re reminded of what they need to do.
3) Knowing exactly what to do everyday makes it easier to move toward the goal.
Same holds true for business, your plan is your to-do list.
4) Having a plan makes it easier to mentally prepare for what needs to be done.
This helps immensely with marketing or business tasks you tend to avoid or be anxious about. If you know you’ve got to do it, you can prepare your mind.
5) Having a plan means I can schedule my day’s activities to accommodate it. For example, I used to run in the evening, but I knew if I wanted to make sure I got my training in every day I’d be better served to run first thing in the morning. That way it’s done before I do anything else, and there’s less chance I’ll end up skipping a workout.
In business, do the more challenging tasks first every day.
6) Having a plan makes it easier to schedule the big tasks. For example, I do my long runs on Sunday mornings so my husband can accompany me on his bike. His companionship and support help make those long runs easier. I also know I have the rest of day to relax if I want to, rather than trying to cram in a long run on a day when I need to work or do something else important.
In business, set up a schedule and/or support systems to help you accomplish the things you know will be more challenging.
7) Having a plan I know can get me to my goal, motivates me, even on days I may not feel like doing the work.
In business, there will be days you don’t feel like doing what needs to be done. If you’re committed to your goal, the plan can get you through those days.
8) Having a plan helps me work through the discomfort. Anytime you’re stretching yourself, or doing something new, there will be discomfort. Sometimes it’s physical. Sometimes it’s mental. Sometimes it’s both! But, when you have a goal, and a plan you know can help you achieve that goal, the discomfort becomes an accepted part of the growth process.
In business you will definitely have to do things you’ve never done before and that may make you uncomfortable. However, if you know they’re moving you closer to your goal, you’ll be more motivated to do them.
9) Following a plan provides an ongoing sense of accomplishment. Every week, you can check off that week’s tasks and feel good about achieving your weekly goals.
Working a business or marketing plan provides a weekly sense of accomplishment as well. And lets you celebrate all the little wins along the way.
10) Having a plan enabled me to prepare to execute it. I knew I was going to need to invest in some tools to help me reach my goal (new running shoes, cool weather running clothes so I could run in the early morning, a new iPod with the Nike Plus running app so I could track my mileage and stats, and a RoadID bracelet for safety when I’m running alone).
In business, when you know what you want to achieve and you have a plan to get there, you know exactly what you need to invest in so you can reach your goal. It also helps you avoid spending money on things that aren’t necessary, because you’re clear about what IS necessary.
Whenever someone hears I’m training for a marathon, the reaction is almost always, “I wish I could do that.”
And the funny thing is, I get the same response when people hear that I have my own business working from home.
My response is always, “You can.”
Yet for most people, it remains a wish.
Perhaps because they don’t know what to do or where to start. Or, maybe because they’re afraid they’ll fail. For some, maybe it seems like too big of a goal.
The truth is, all you really need to run a marathon, or be successful in business or any endeavor, is a strong desire to do it, a willingness to find out what it takes, and a commitment to taking the steps, one at a time, until you get there.
It’s not always about getting there fast, or even first, it’s about taking steps toward accomplishing something you really want to do, and being willing to get there at your own pace.
As cliché as it may sound, this is it.
This is your one life. Your one chance to do all those things you’d like to do. Or, at least give it a shot.
I challenge you to step back and think about what you’d like to achieve this year. Maybe it’s running a marathon, or perhaps it’s simply being able to run a mile. Perhaps you want to start a business, or finally start taking that business you’ve been talking about, seriously.
Whatever your goal, commit to going for it.
Create a plan, or find someone to help you create one, and start executing it one step, one day, one week at a time. It’s OK to be afraid. If you think I’m not afraid I won’t be able to run 26 miles, think again. Even though I’ve done it before, I worry I won’t be able to do it now. The difference is I’m not letting that stop me from trying.
What would you like to accomplish this year?
Please post a comment and share. Sometimes, just sharing it publicly is enough to motivate you into action!