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Resources

How to ensure goals and plans definitely become reality

Resources

How to ensure goals and plans definitely become reality

This page was last updated on January 26, 2024
In our first session of 2024, Business Club members discussed how to keep the implementation of goals and plans firmly on track to success.

The dawning of a new year is a popular time for people to set resolutions, goals or plans.  There’s all that time ahead and hopefully a rested and rejuvenated state of mind from the festive holiday.  Optimism can be high, and anything seems possible.

Why goals and plans are often abandoned

Depending on what study you read many goals and plans are sadly abandoned between January 12th and 19th. While January can be a tough time with short daylight hours, wintry weather and the return to work, it’s not fair though to blame collapsed plans just on the month alone.

This is because it takes people an average of 66 days to form a new habit or make a change. Such was the conclusion of a study by the European Journal of Social Psychology.  66 days was just the average in a range that went from 18 to 254 days.  Patience and perseverance are, therefore, key when sticking to new goals.

Business planning

Plans relating to business aren’t just formed at the start of the calendar year.  They can materialise at the beginning of an organisation’s financial year, the fiscal year, quarterly periods or even ahead of key seasonal times for the business. Common reasons why plans in business stumble include:

  1. The plan wasn’t based on robust information, so it was undermined before it began.
  2. There was a misalignment between the plan’s goal and the resources the business had available – causing implementation to grind to a halt. Resources can include finances, people,  equipment, and supplies.
  3. A third factor is often a lack of clear communication and getting the key people on board to actively support implementation.
  4. Another challenge arises when unforeseen events haven’t been factored into the planning process – prompting the plan to get knocked off track.

6 ways to help goals and plans convert into reality

In the Club discussion we explored key ingredients that help goals and plans progress to a successful outcome. Here are a selection of the tips shared.

1. Power up the planning stage

When initially formulating a plan or setting a goal, it is important to be realistic, so there’s a strong chance that what you want to happen will.  Crafting that plan or goal on accurate information will help bring realism into the planning, not just optimism.

In a business context, information could include time, management information indicators, finance data, cash flow position, the resources available etc. Ideally you want a plan or goal which is challenging, achievable and measurable.

To aid implementation, it’s good to break down the plan or goal into manageable steps. In doing so establish indicators which help you measure if progress is being made as expected. Also don’t forget to build in time so you can solve any issues which may crop up along the way.

2. Attitudes and behaviours that influence a successful implementation

Club members recommended that patience, perseverance and regularly reviewing progress greatly help to keep a goal’s or plan’s implementation on track. 

In business, it is important to ensure colleagues are on board and supporting implementation. This comes from investing time to communicate why the outcome is important, what benefits it will bring (and to whom), plus how specifically that outcome can come about.

To reduce resistance or disinterest, expect to invest in training and encouragement to help people remain motivated to play their part.  Also find positive and collaborative ways to monitor progress without policing or micro-managing.

3. Tools that help

Whether it’s in a personal or business context, there seems to be a tracker or project management app for any change people want to make. As well as mapping out the various activities to bring the plan to fruition, deciding deadlines and setting alerts, Club members also stressed the importance of playing to strengths.

In a personal context, that could mean timing challenging activities when you’re most energised and alert in the day.  In a business environment, it can mean allocating tasks according to skills, knowledge and proficiency of different team members.

4. Successfully navigating unexpected challenges

Most goals or plans hit an obstacle at some point, and it can take quite an effort to find ways around it and maintain momentum. Club members stressed that a positive attitude was important here.

Reflect and take courage from other situations where you demonstrated resilience and overcame a challenge. Utilise the skills in your team and draw on the expertise of others to help you find ways to navigate through the obstacle you’ve hit. 

After the past few years, it’s become the norm to expect the unexpected.  Building different scenarios into your planning phase helps you to be better prepared.  Having access to cushions of thinking/investigation time, a strong cash flow, available resources and other people’s expertise etc, all greatly help if you hit a challenge.

Above all, stay positive and curious – challenges are to be expected along the way.  Embrace understanding the challenge’s cause and nature to learn more deeply about it, and find a solution.

5. Motivating others to support the goal or plan to a successful outcome

Club members agreed that clear and positive communication was vital when motivating others to support a goal or plan.  Good communication in this context seeks to build a dialogue and avoids dictation.

Dialogue means actively listening and keeping in touch regularly with people to ensure motivation remains constant. Encourage any struggles to be shared so they can be co-solved. 

Where possible it also helps if people are encouraged to co-create the implementation plan. Empowering colleagues and encouraging ideas and solutions often leads to a stronger and faster implementation phase. 

Don’t forget to consider rewards or celebrations at key stage goals along the way.  Acknowledging what you’ve achieved so far will help people stay motivated for the next steps.  Make the progress achieved visible and/or regularly communicated/celebrated so it becomes tangible and inspirational.

6. Getting a goal or plan back on track if it’s hit an obstacle

If a goal or plan has definitely ground to a halt, Club members agreed that it was important to fully understand what was the cause. This requires a realistic and open mindset – one that’s eager to identify and then learn from the cause(s).  Perhaps the goal was too ambitious, in which case could its scope or timeframe be scaled back? 

Adjusting or reframing how you are approaching the implementation is a worthy undertaking.  Also don’t look at things in isolation – bring in specialists, advisers or others who have undertaken something similar and can help you find solutions which get your goal or plan back on track.

Summary

In the discussion, Club members recognised that while people are generally good at setting goals and establishing plans, they rarely factor in potential challenges and consider how the plan could fail.

Different cultures view failure quite differently. Those that see failure as a positive learning experience, often achieve greater success.  They actively learn from mistakes and seek out the implications of potential challenges so they can find a stronger path through them. This then gives them greater confidence to tackle the next goal or plan successfully.

Thank you to all the Club members who supported our January event and shared their ideas. If you would like to attend our future Business Club events, please get in touch with the Shipleys’ Godalming team for more information.


Specific advice should be obtained before taking action, or refraining from taking action, in relation to this summary.

Copyright © Shipleys LLP 2024

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