My quarterly planning session is complete! 

My business partner (my husband) spent Friday afternoon planning the next quarter. Here is what we did: 

  • We did a review of the last quarter
  • We checked in on our annual goals and made changes as required
  • We established our next quarter goals
  • We built our “map” for our quarterly goals, so we know clearly how to get to where we want to go.  

This process works for us. It’s a great afternoon of good discussion and support for each other’s business and goals.  

We finished with a great dinner at a local restaurant.  

This week, I want to share the six questions we answer for each of our goals. We take the time to consider questions because we know they help us improve our success and stop us from investing in goals we shouldn’t.  

Read on to learn about the six questions.

Why do I want to achieve this goal?

The first question I ask is, “Why?”  Why do I want to achieve this goal? As I consider this question, I also consider why it is important to me and how I will feel once I achieve this goal.  

Any goal is going to take time and energy. Resources that are not infinite. Before I allocate those resources to this goal, I want to consider my why.  

When I answer this, it is to ensure that this goal is for me. That the reason for this goal is that I want it. I know that if the goal is for someone else, I’ll likely, unconsciously sabotage it. 

I also look to ensure that the why or importance is big enough for the resources I will give to it.   If the why is small, but the work involves a lot, I may realize that the benefit of investing in the goal is not there.  

I feel it is better to know earlier than later to ensure I’m spending my resources on great goals.  

What are the consequences of achieving my goals? What are the consequences of NOT achieving my goal?

This is the second question I like to answer. It is similar to the first but a little bit different. 

In this question, I want to know the ultimate outcome of achieving this goal. What will my investment get me? And better yet, what will it cost me if I don’t do it? 

Knowing the cost of not achieving a goal can be as motivating as knowing the why.  

This question is another way to assess if the time, energy, and effort are worth the outcomes of this goal.   

I know there will always be days when I feel tired and unmotivated. These two questions will give me the push I need to take action even when I don’t want to.   

How will I know when I have achieved this goal?

This third question can be sued in a couple of different ways.  

The first is to help define how you will measure the goal.   When you know how you will measure it, you can track it. I suggest defining some key performance indicators to let you know as you proceed through the year or quarter if you are on track.  

A goal that cannot be measured isn’t a goal.   So if you don’t know how to measure it, it likely means you are writing a goal based on feelings. Ask yourself how you will know when you have achieved that feeling. What will you be doing or not doing? Then see if you can change your goal to reflect measurable outcomes.  

The second way to use this goal is for visualization. How will you know when you have achieved this goal? What will you be doing? What will you hear? What will you be saying? Who will be with you? What will you see? What will you feel?  

Visualizing the outcome can be very powerful.  

I like to use this visualization each quarter to install the goal into my timeline (we can discuss this over coffee one day).   

Where am I now in relation to this goal? 

Where are you now? Last week, a member of my accountability group told us they had a monthly base income goal. They are about 75% of the way to achieving that goal, and they now have to build a plan to get the last 25%.   It also means they know what actions to take to make the goal happen.  

Where are you in relation to the goal? It may be something you have never done before, and this may need more planning than something you already have a base for.  

What tools, skills, or support will I need to achieve this goal?

I like to answer this question after I’ve responded to the question regarding where I am now in relation to this goal.   Where I am now helps me think about what I might need to achieve the goal. 

If, like my accountability group member, I am 75% there, do I need some coaching to get me to the last 25%? Or if this is something I’ve never done before, do I need to reach out to those who have to get guidance and support?   Maybe, I need to update a skill or acquire a new skill. 

The answer to this question often helps me figure out some of my first steps.  

What are the first three actions I will take toward successfully achieving this goal?  

This is the last question.  

I didn’t always answer this question or think it was necessary because I knew I would build my “map.”  I knew that by the time I finished my planning, I would have a 13-week plan for the part of the goal I would achieve this quarter.

However, I have since learned that thinking about and documenting the first three action steps can be an excellent start to the “map” and give my unconscious mind a convincer that I will do what I say. At a minimum, these three first steps can be achieved in a short time, and when I take the action step, I show my unconscious that I am an action taker and will do what I say.  

Only about 15-25% of people build full maps. If you are the other 75-85% who don’t, this question is a must-do. Determining your first three steps dramatically increases your success at achieving your goals. 

You will more likely take action when you have three small, achievable steps. Hopefully immediately.

The momentum of the first three steps can propel your forward, and the key is to ensure they are small enough not to overwhelm you.  

Once you have worked through these six questions, you will know why you want this goal, what you will lose if you don’t do it, how you will measure your success, where you currently are, and what you need to do to achieve success.    Think about how much you’ve done through just six questions!  

Are there any questions you would add? 

Clairty is essential. Knowing exactly what you builds your self-confidence immeasurably.

Brian Tracy

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