Get a Career Plan together today
The Three-Phase Plan That’s Actually Practical
The three-phase plan I’m about to give you was inspired by my mentor Michael Gerber, who once gave me this great nugget of wisdom: “You need to dream big, think small and act even smaller.”
The key to this nugget of wisdom is that it helps us break our future plans into three phases so we can think in the long-, mid- and short-term. It looks like this:
• The Three-Year Vision (dream big in the long-term)
• The One-Year Goal (think small in the mid-term)
• The 90-Day Milestones (act even smaller in the short-term)
Separating your plan into these three distinct phases will give you just the right balance of those two types of connections (motivational and rational) necessary to create real results. But you must have all three phases for this to work.
If you just have the long-term vision, there won’t be enough implementation -- you’ll just be daydreaming all day without any clear, short-term actions.
And if you just have the short-term milestones? You might be doing plenty of implementation and feel like you’re getting a lot done, but without looking to the future, you may be doing things that ultimately hold you back from reaching your goals.
Let’s look at what each of these three phases consists of, why they work and how you can fulfill each one on your own.
Dream Big: The Three-Year Vision (Long-Term)
For most of us, putting our vision out as far as 5-10 years in the future just doesn’t make sense. The entrepreneurial world (and our world in general) changes much too quickly for that.
Plus, if we put our plan out too far, we quickly lose focus and that motivational connection we’ve been talking about.
So, I’ve found right around three years to be the sweet spot for creating a vision that gives you that “just-right” gut feeling.
To create your own three-year vision, ask yourself: “What results do I want to create for myself and my business three years from now?”
Keep in mind that here you are defining what you want to do, not how you want to do it. We’ll save the "how" for another time.
Some examples of three-year visions include:
- Have 100 new clients
- Increase annual revenue 35%
Once you’ve dreamed big and established your vision, it’s time think small.
Think Small: The One-Year Goal (Mid-Term)
Only looking three years in the future is still pretty far out. To make sure you actually reach that vision, you need to break things down even more.
That’s why you should take that three-year vision and create a more precise, practical mid-term version of it: one-year goals.
This will help increase that motivational connection (without losing any of the rational connection) and help you make more short-term progress.
To create your one-year goals, consider the type of work that needs to be done to achieve your three-year vision. Then, take roughly one-third of that work from the vision and make that your one-year goal.
As an example, if your three-year vision is to have 100 new clients, your one-year goal might be to have 25 new clients.
Obviously, this isn’t exactly one-third of that three-year vision.
And this is an important thing to keep in mind: Likely, your first bout of growth will start more slowly. Between the initial setup, learning what you need to do, and adopting the right systems, progress will be smaller in the beginning. So, make sure you first year’s goal reflects this.
Then, as time goes by, your one-year goals can get bigger, faster and stronger.
But don’t worry about your other one-year goals just yet! Simply get your first one down on paper and create the other two as each year finishes.
After you dream big and think small, you move on to acting even smaller.
Act Even Smaller: 90 Day Milestones (Short-Term)
Your three-year vision and one-year goal push your plan closer to practicality. But on their own, they still don’t naturally transition into practice or day-to-day actions.
So, your next step is to simplify and break down your plan even more by taking each one-year goal and dividing it into four 90-day milestones.
Now, with a clear image in mind for what you need to achieve in the long-, mid- and short-term, you can easily transition these images into practice with your day-to-day and week-to-week actions.
Ask yourself: "How can I divide my one-year goal into four 90-day milestones?" Then, divide and conquer.
So, if my three-year vision is to have 100 new clients and my first-year goal is to have 25 new clients, my 90-day milestones might be four new clients, six new clients, seven new clients, then eight (or maybe even more) new clients.
Once you have this, you can continue dividing your 90-day milestones into smaller chunks (one-month check-ins, weekly tasks, etc.) if you like.
Once you’ve created your three-phase practical plan, make it real and record it! Create a mindmap, write it in a journal, design a graphic — just don't leave it floating around in your head (otherwise, we both know it'll never get done).