Create A Plan

FEB 20, 2013 5:03pm ET

We are now at the seventh and final step in the Military Decision Making Process, or how military personnel make decisions. The seventh step in the MDMP used by the United States Army is “Orders Production” or in civilian terms, create a business plan and implement!
Too many times we start the new year with great ideas and huge goals, but never take the time to write a plan for how we will reach those goals. As a result, for the most part, the goals are not reached nor are the dreams realized.
One of the definitions of “plan” is “…a scheme or method of acting, doing, proceeding, making, etc., developed in advance…” As mortgage professionals, we would laugh if someone told us they wanted to build a house but they didn’t have a house plan. It is the same with building a business, you must have a plan in order to achieve success.
Consider taking at least one day away from your business to create a business plan that works for you. I believe in the power of a plan and it is a vital part of both my life and my business. Creating a plan—both a life plan and a business plan—has become a non-negotiable discipline plugged into my life. In fact, “planning” has become so much of who I am that any new project that I undertake, any new marketing strategy, etc., I will formulate a “mini” business plan to go along with a vision statement, specific goals, deadlines for accomplishing the objectives, and action items.
For me, having a plan is no longer an option. At the core of the creation of my plan, are my convictions, my mission statement, my purpose, my “why”. When a plan begins with that, you can operate your daily plan on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose.
If you have never written a business plan, you might want to take a good, honest look at your life, your business, your daily disciplines and ask the questions:
1. Where am I now?
2. Where do I want to go?
In order to formulate any type of plan, you have to know where to begin. What changes, if any, need to be made to fill in the gap from where you are now to where you want to go? What are the skills you need to achieve your personal or business goals?  What attitudes need to change? These are just a few of the questions you can ask yourself as you begin formulating your plan.
It is only after you have a crystal-clear picture of what you want in your life, why you want it, and where you are currently, that you can begin to set goals and list the strategies you plan to implement to reach those goals and dreams.
Set big goals. Goals can be defined as the ongoing pursuit of a dream or “dreams with a deadline.” I apply the SMART method of establishing goals, i.e., they should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. But don’t start stop there. Always answer the following questions after you write each goal:
(1) Why is reaching this goal important to me?
(2) What are the benefits of reaching this goal?
(3) What are the skills or knowledge required to reach this goal?
(4) What specific plan of action will it take to reach this goal?
(5) What is the deadline or date of completion?
These goals should be yours and should be linked to your mission and purpose, your “why” you do what you do. Your strategy will be the actual plan of action you implement to accomplish these goals on a day to day basis that will take your life to the level of success you have envisioned.
Each week, set aside a time to reflect and review your vision and your plan. This forces you to answer honestly the question “What did I accomplish last week?” And then the other question “What will I accomplish this week?” If you do not have it plugged into your weekly calendar, it just will not happen. It is during these times of reflection that you can “check up and check off” what you have accomplished and what still needs to be done.
Consider purchasing a leather journal to write your goals and dreams and plans. Create a separate page for each goal that you intend to accomplish for the year. After the goal is written, identify why this goal is important to you. Write a vision statement of what your life would look like if this goal is achieved. Leave several pages blank behind each goal so there to document your successes, the goals you have accomplished, and the areas that need improvements or areas that were not touched.
It is imperative that you develop the discipline of monitoring the plan. That will force you to see the truth and the consequences of your daily choices. You can take the time and energy to write the plan but without implementation of the plan, it was all for nothing. However, it is the discipline of monitoring the plan that will make the difference in both your work and in your life.
This seventh step, “Orders Production” in the MDMP, is one of the most important. It is where all the other work you have done in the MDMP culminates in not merely having a “plan” but a plan of execution.  Dwight D. Eisenhower said it well. “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”