In the last blog, we touched briefly on planning, and you will have heard the saying that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. At this stage, it’s important to remember that a plan isn’t meant to be a prediction of exactly what must happen in the future. Plans need to be flexible, and you must be ready to change and amend your plans as circumstances change. The purpose of a plan is to enable you to choose the best course of action, at any given time, that will take you further towards your goal. The art of planning successfully is about matching clearly defined goals with a systematic and detailed list of actions, and carefully measuring your progress so that you can change and adjust your plan in response to how your business develops.
Having a well-researched plan is also a tremendous confidence booster. With a good plan in your pocket, you have built a more concrete idea of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it. It becomes more difficult to worry about future problems if you know you’ve planned for them already, and it means you’re much better able to focus on the task or action you’re doing right now.
To help you plan effectively, you should definitely make use of the many tools and techniques that have been developed to help. One of the easiest to master is SMART goals. SMART goals are a way of defining your goals and objectives to maximise your chances of achieving them. It stops you from setting unachievable, unrealistic, vague, and open-ended goals, and focuses you on setting goals that are:
You need your goals to be Specific. Setting specific goals forces you to think about the details of how the task can be achieved and stops you glossing over complex issues or missing out details. There’s a balance to be struck here, you can be too specific with your goals, overcomplicating them with unnecessary detail - let common sense be your guide.
Having Measurable goals means knowing how you will tell if you have achieved them. Ask yourself what key points of information will determine whether you have reached your goal or not. It could be your end of year profit or the number of marketing leaflets delivered. If your progress against the goal can be measured and quantified, then you can more easily judge your own performance in achieving it.
As a hypnotherapy practitioner, you’re probably not working in a large organisation, so Agreed-upon goals are much easier to come by. But setting agreed upon goals also means getting the assent of every stakeholder. You will want to ensure, to use one of the examples above, that your printer and leaflet delivery service have both agreed they can meet your goal of delivering a certain number of leaflets. This will help you avoid having to change or abandon goals entirely because third parties cannot meet your requirements.
Realistic goals are very important. It’s certainly good to aim high, but don’t aim so high that you constantly miss. Reviewing your goals in the light of how realistic they are, means reining in your built-in optimism and steering away from pie-in-the-sky thinking. You should be certain that your realistic goals will contribute positively to your practice in clearly definable ways, and discard those that won’t.
Insisting on Time-based goals will avoid those open-ended tasks that never seem to progress. If there’s no time limit or specific time frame for a goal to be achieved, it will just sink to the lowest priority, and everything else will be done before it.
Thinking about SMART goals is a great way to help you build a realistic plan, and it helps you to break down every aspect of building your practice into logical steps. In turn, this helps you reveal obstacles long before they become problems, so you can plan your way around them.