What’s the Plan Man?


Success is no accident. Success is the result of hard work, perseverance, help from those around you and a solid plan. The more solid, the better. Developing a plan for success increases your chances of success 100%. Yep, a plan doubles the likelihood of success. I find that statistic very interesting but here is one even more interesting, or scary depending on your point of view. 80% of people operate with with no actionable plan for success. 80%!

I’m pleased that everyone reading this has a real plan for success, one that will truly drive their behavior every day of the year. I must admit however that I am a little suspect that everybody reading this is indeed among that 20%. So let’s see if it’s true.

First let’s determine what an actionable plan is not: It is not, “I’m going to work harder” or “I’m going to work smarter” or any variation of the same. That is not a plan; it is a dream, a dream that turns into the nightmare of the same old thing.

A plan that succeeds has action built into it, the actions are very specific, and the actions have measurable standards that leave no doubt as to whether they have been accomplished. Each individual action has its own deadline, a deadline which is critical because you’ll never find “someday” on a calendar.

Here is an 8-Step Planning Process that has been proven time and again to help people achieve the success that they are willing to work towards:
1. Clear picture of current situation – we must know where we are before we can know where we are going
2. A clear understanding and vision of the desired situation – specificity is a key here
3. Development of short, medium and long range goals – it is perfectly okay to adjust your goals as circumstances change
4. Develop your program – how will you succeed – what will you sacrifice – remember success is not just about what you will START doing, often what you STOP doing is just as important
5. The investment you are willing to make (time & money) – the commitment of time is frequently harder to make than a financial commitment
6. Time Table – When will it all happen – just like it says, Time Table, specific dates and times, giving yourself a range of dates is giving yourself the opportunity to delay your success
7. Implement the total plan – no plan is more worthless than the plan never put into action
8. Follow-up – Check back often on how you’re doing – and while you’re checking back find someone that cares about you to hold you accountable to your plan, this is a lot of work and is almost impossible to accomplish alone

So there is your planning process, and before you start telling yourself you can succeed without doing all this “work” let me tell you something else: What you call success today will pale when compared to the success that is possible when you execute a real plan.

Your plan is not work, it is an investment and it is the greatest investment you can make because it is an investment in yourself. You matter, your success matters and if you will commit to a plan you will see results almost immediately. So, what’s the plan man?

6 thoughts on “What’s the Plan Man?

  1. Steve

    Excellent post. Thanks for your ongoing commitment to share your wisdom with so many.

    One of the things that has helped me relative to setting goals and planning is understanding the subtle, but critical difference between a ‘goal’ and a ‘target’. With goals, the steps for achievement are fully within our control. Targets, however, are desired outcomes where many of the elements are outside our control.

    A good analogy is in the field of sales. A good sales manager will work with a salesman to identify process goals (e.g. number of calls, presentations, etc) that form the backbone of a robust goal-setting process. He/She will then measure the achievement of these goals. The cumulative effect of measuring controllable process goals is increased sales volume. A less informed sales manager, however, will say to the salesman “You must close ‘x’ amount of sales this month’ and leave it at that. The former example reprepresents goals and the latter a target.

    In my experience, the primary reason for failed goal attempts boils down to selecting uncontrollable targets and calling them goals.

    Keep up the good work. We’re enjoying your blog posts


    1. Excellent point Mark! Goals (that aren’t really goals) can be a huge demotivator when we fail to achieve them. When I hear a salesperson with a goal of “I want to be sales manager in 3 years” I wince because there are so many things within that goal that are outside of the control of that salesperson. I coach them to adjust the goal to only the things they have control over, like “over the next 3 years I will continue to develop myself into the best possible candidate for a sales management position” – that they can plan for and control.

      Thanks for the kind words as well, glad you enjoyed the post!

  2. I think it’s so important to have a plan. So many people have these dreams and goals, but no actual means to achieve them. “Hope is not a plan.” The 8 step planning process is helpful is getting people focused and on task to achieve goals.

    I also appreciate Mark’s ability to differentiate the difference between goals and outcomes. Too many times I have made goals in my life that were outcome based rather than process based. The results were never quite as successful as I had wanted.

    Thanks to both of you for continuing to share you wisdom out here. It is a pleasure continuing to learn from you!

    1. Thanks Deb, it really is amazing the difference a plan can make. I’d bet on a person with a bad plan over a person with no plan every day. Plans can be like our touch point, a basis that we can refer back to when we feel we’ve left the track a bit. A plan, combined with true goals is the solid foundation for a successful life.

  3. Grtat post and I specially agree with the last point. It’s easy to plan and then not implement…. Is number five, (excellent point about time not money) as result of not looking at how far one has gone on the journey, or not realising the value of the journey ahead?

    1. I’d say five is indeed more about the journey, the real value of any plan is in the doing. Research shows MOST Plans are never implemented, that to me is a bigger waste than no plan at all.

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