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Archive for the ‘Planning and Strategy’ Category

Screen shot 2012-12-06 at · Dec 6 @ 6.28.22 AM

In my quest to enjoy the holiday season one day at a time from December 1 through December 25 (and who knows- maybe this will continue straight through New Years Day), day 5 and 6 were all about planning. Planning forward.

  • The holiday cards came out and now scream at me from across the room
  • The decorations were found (they were secretly tucked away in this one-bedroom Manhattan apartment and required a “if you were a Christmas decoration where would you be hiding?” moment)
  • Since I have not joined a church since moving to Washington Heights, I needed to scope out options for Christmas Eve
  • RSVPed to several holiday get-togethers
  • Changed my Facebook cover photo to include the Rockefeller Plaza Tree and the gorgeous angels (my favorite)

So while I would have liked it better if I was VISITING the Rockefeller tree as my holiday activity to blog about, I will say that there are some wonderful plans in motion for the remainder of the month thanks to my planning.

What have you got planned?

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I have always been a planner. Since I was a little girl.

While many little girls were playing Barbie and house, my imagination role-play games included organizing neighborhood children to put on a variety show. And when there were no other kids around, my poor sister had to endure my choreography and director’s wrath so we could get the show “just right” (think Cher’s Half Breed album 1973).

But in those years before my sister was old enough to participate, I would play school by myself being both the teacher and the student (aren’t I talented?) including lesson plans, fake library cards, sticker charts, homework and bulletin boards.  As I got older I transitioned to interior designer (complete with my own sketches for rearranging Mom’s living room furniture) and cruise director with a clipboard (okay- really- wouldn’t I make a great Julie McCoy?)

 

I have notebooks full of charts, graphs and calendars. Days to learn the songs, dances and lines for the musical. Days until college applications were due. Study schedules. Weight loss charts. Graphs depicting my savings to be used to get my ears pierced at the mall. By the time I got to college, I was in full-blown planning mode with wall charts and everything!

The advantages to my predilection for planning is that I moved from organized high school class president to college senior class president to corporate management trainee to corporate executive using this skill to excel. It was always in my back pocket to make sense of the chaos. It was and still is a leadership tool in my toolbox.

I leveraged this same skill to transition to entrepreneurial life helping clients create calendars and plans to support their businesses, lives, marketing programs, etc.  Do what you love, right? Do what comes easy. Plus it makes me happy because my plans are pretty. They are created with post-it notes and sharpies.

However, I have also come to see that I use this planning tool as a way to calm myself down. If I am anxious about something in my personal or professional life, I go right to the calendar.  Sometimes just to look at it. It beings me comfort. It is a guaranteed return. When things are uncertain, the calendar seems certain to me. I can plan something and write it down. Plus mine is pretty with all those colors (both the paper and electronic versions).

This is just a little insight into me. A little writing to perhaps get you thinking about what skills or characteristics you have brought with you from childhood that have helped YOU to excel in adulthood. They are probably right at your fingertips.

 

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It is that time of year when we all create goals and resolutions.

Starting fresh in the New Year with all the promise and hope of a clean slate.

For me, I abandoned making resolutions 16 years ago.

As many of you know, I believe whole-heartedly in the power of starting the day over again. At any point.  So resolutions have always set me up for failure because, well, you can probably imagine that I ALWAYS broke them early on in the year and then cast them aside or talked myself out of wanting the result.

Goals are different. Goals for me are about incremental change with the possibility for remarkable surprises. They are about looking to the future and putting the mini-plan in place to support each of those goals. Looking for opportunities to move closer to the goal in giant leaps facilitated by those incremental plans.

In my world, there are three absolutes for goals.

  • They span all parts of my life: personal and professional. EXPAND!
  • They are BIG dreams! They are scary and vulnerable! I utter the secrets that have been carried around inside me.
  • They are specific. Through specificity comes the magic!

Have you taken the time to write down your 2012 goals?

Honestly. Do you have the goals written down? Are they in a place where you can see them each and every day? Living with my goals has become a tremendous inspiration to me.  They are hanging on bright pink oversized post-it notes right over my desk

Now look at the annual goals.

  • Do they span multiple areas of your personal and professional life?
  • Are they big? Are they audacious? Do they make you think, “After I stand in disbelief, if this really comes to fruition I will be dancing/crying/high-fiving in my living room?”
  • Are they very specific? Not sure- then my guess is that they are not. Specificity allows you to feel the relief of knowing if you are moving forward. Specificity allows the magic in between your actions to happen. Specificity gives you a litmus test as you whether a particular decision moves you closer or further away from that goal.

Take some much deserved time to dream and plan for 2012 during this holiday season. Happy New Year!

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Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

You want to reach out to your community of followers, clients and interested prospective clients. You want it to be fresh and unique-not the same old thing you did last time. You want to be top of mind in their business life. You KNOW this is something you need to do soon because a particular opportunity is going to pass you by.

And THAT’S IT. THAT’S ALL YOU’VE GOT!

Drawing a blank.

This is such a common occurrence with clients and colleagues.

Honestly, let me tell you.  Shhhh … Lean closer… there is such an easy solution to get unstuck that it seems too good to be true.

  • Get a piece of paper and a favorite pen
  • Grab a timer
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes
  • Here’s your assignment
  • In 10 minutes make a list of all the ways you can communicate with your clients
  • Logical and illogical.  Simple and complicated. Standard and outside the box.
  • Write them all. You cannot do this wrong!

**********************************************************

Okay. Your 10 minutes is up.

Take a breathe. Look down at the list.

Which of this combination of great, professional and silly ideas jumps off the page at you?

That is the one you do. Today. Put it in motion.

Leave all the others to implement on another day. Keep it simple. Focus. Finish this one beginning to end. Breathe. You have to start somewhere and this one thing will lead to others plus some new ideas.

And rather than just talking about it and thinking about it- you are COMMUNICATING!

Please email me at info@brynjohnson.com and tell me what you chose to do from your communication brain dump.  ENJOY!

 

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* CD sets * DVDs * Binders * Home Study Systems * Checklists * Mp3 downloads * Instruction manuals * Bookmarked websites * Newsletters * Free reports * Books * Journals * Magazines * Piles of articles from other magazines  *Journals and idea notebooks *

 

This describes the “decorations” I often have in my apartment and office. Piles on the floor. Media cabinets and bookcases filled. And of course the computer with beautifully created folders and iTunes accounts with seemingly endless digital versions of programs.

And with every moment  (or decade) of chaos comes a lesson.

What did I learn from all this?

  • I learned that I spent money on things I never looked at or listened to
  • I learned that reorganizing these materials did not help me absorb by osmosis
  • I learned that every time I looked at one or a cluster of these materials, I felt defeated.
  • I learned that I had accumulated EDUCATIONAL CLUTTER!

I needed a solution to this madness.  What I discovered is that without a plan, I was left feeling lost, frustrated and disappointed with each day that went by. I was letting myself down and setting myself up for defeat each time I let my intellectual curiosity lose out to some other aspect of my life or business day after day.

So, I created a simple system to make this all more manageable and allow me to actually accomplish some advancement of my education. And really it is so simple that I wanted to share it with you with the hopes that you will implement it in your life and business as well.

  1. Make a list of all the categories of learning you have. Could be by topic. By expert. By method of learning (audio, video, book). There will be a logical way that it appears in your head when you set out to organize.
  2. List the top activity beneath each. The most important book. The meditation CD that will help you the most. The blog you have been meaning to research. You get the point.
  3. In your calendar, carve out an hour of “Learning Time” a week. I know. I know. You want to do so much more. But honestly, how much learning time have you been utilizing each week? So add an hour to that number.
  4. Now, decide right now which of the top activities in your categories will move your business forward the fastest, will bring you the most happiness, will feel the most amazing to have crossed off the list… prioritize using your own drivers and goals.
  5. Spend that hour studying, reading, listening, watching or absorbing the new information.  When one is done,  move on to the next – adding new activities to the master list as need.

Do this every week and you have 52 more hours of studying, learning and educating yourself than you did last year and so much less frustration and disappointment. It is only one hour a week!

 

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Personal time. Making certain that personal time is SCHEDULED in your calendar.

This is the most straightforward planning task of them all and usually the most difficult for my clients.

  • I know you “mean” to add it to your calendar
  • I know you “want” to have a little breathing room in your business
  • I know you “believe” that you understand the importance of personal time

And trust me, I struggle with this portion of my business planning every day. Why? Because I am always busy finishing “one more thing”. I am the Queen of “one more thing”.

What does “one more thing” usually bring me?

  • Looking up from my computer to realize that I have not left the house in 2 days
  • Awareness that I began working when it was dark and stopped working when it was dark
  • My brain fuzzy from spinning around in my business non-stop
  • A tremendous feeling of accomplishment in the sales, writing, client time or phone connections I have been buried in- but piles of laundry, no healthy dinner made and piles of fun books staring at me from the living room
  • Hmm… still in my pjs

I am not suggesting that you stop focusing on your business.  Rather the opposite. Improve your focus by getting some much needed personal time.

Here is the easiest way I have found to ensure that it happens. WRITE IT IN MY CALENDAR AS AN APPOINTMENT EVERY DAY.  I certainly look at the week and month ahead to find those larger blocks of time that I will want to use to spend with friends, family and community. But what I am suggesting here is to look at your schedule every evening or first thing in the morning and put your personal needs above (or at least equal to) your business needs to take a shot at striking that elusive “balance”.

Here are some examples of things I put into my calendar over the course of a week. Some may seem silly. “Why do you need to write that down? Won’t you remember to cook dinner or shower- seriously?” But honestly, there are days that when I do not schedule it in, I just keep plowing through and at 8 pm I have no healthy food options and I am not yet showered. YIKES. Full-disclosure here!

  • Shower
  • Make dinner
  • Call for doctor/dentist appointment
  • Return ______’s call
  • Make deposit at the bank
  • Mail birthday cards
  • Buy birthday cards
  • Exercise
  • Read for pleasure
  • Email an old friend
  • Book plane ticket for trip home
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Shop online for just about anything

You get the idea… not difficult activities but I get to the end of the week and they are STILL not done if I do not schedule them like I would client time or sales time. And the space that unfinished list has taken up in my head is prime real estate better allocated elsewhere.

Give it a try and let me know what shifts in your business (and your life!) as a result.

 

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Planning Tip for Networking:   Keep a list of people to meet or connect with in your wallet.

Your wish list. I always have one-on a colored index card.

I pull it out in quiet moments- on an airplane, subway, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or in-line somewhere.  When I see an opportunity to take a moment to reach out to someone.

The activity of connecting does not have to be overwhelming. Plus, how great is it to actually run into someone who is on your “wish list”? It happens to me all the time at airports, at conferences, or I’ll get an unsolicited email from one of them.

Now THAT’S fun!

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