12 Month Plan
I want to take a moment and give you an exercise. This will be a thought experiment, that some of of you can take away. It's one that I've come back to, time and time again. I call them the big verbs: to Be, to Do, to Have. And if I could fill in the blank, earlier this morning we talked a little bit about this idea of thinking strategically, and it had to do with planning. It had to do with being thoughtful. It had to do with being in a position of feeling like we're making a difference. It had to do with taking the time. And so there's an exercise that I can share with you that combines this thinking with time. And I'll just share this out loud. If you have the workbook, and you want to take some notes there you absolutely can. For those of you online, I've done this in journals or on whiteboards. I'll even do it in a flip chart way, where I'll put a big piece of paper on my wall or in my office. What I like to do is to break that year into chunks. And, again, don't get tied up on th...
e numbers here as much as you get interested in having these windows. Sometimes I call them milestones. I like taking a look at these chunks in 90 to 180 day cycles So sometimes what I'll do is I'll walk to the whiteboard, literally draw a big, not even line, just kinda scratch out there on the whiteboard. I'll write down these six things up across the top row: To Do, To Be, To Have. And then down the left hand column, I'll give myself some time parameters. Again, don't get hung up on the time. What the most important part here is that your giving yourself the gift of your own attention. I can make the case that 30 days or more that's where I would start this process. I don't how much strategic thinking I can do about tomorrow, because my calendar's already been filled up for tomorrow for a couple of weeks now. But, if it's the first or second of the month, and I look at the first or the second of next month, I've got margin. I've got that runway, if you will. And then what do I write in the cells? Well, if I leave this to my own self, and I let myself see what I'm telling myself, I'll write down the things that I want to be, I'm sorry, the things that I want to do. And in the short term, 30 to 90 days, those are usually things that are, again, already on the calendar. They're all all ready spoken for. Might be a work conference I'm speaking at. There might be a vacation that we're planning, a family celebration that we're going to. Then it gets a little bit more fuzzy. It gets a little bit more misty. For those of us in San Francisco, it gets a little more foggy. Where I can see that there's this red thing, and I know that it's the Golden Gate Bridge, but I might not recognize it if I wasn't from here. That's that next piece, six months out. For my parents in the room, at pretty much at any given point in time if I add six months to the school calendar, you will have been through vacations, or you'll be back at back to school, or you'll be into the new year. There's always a something. For those of you in some kind of a cruel process or business where there's an end of the quarter push, an end of the semester push, an end of the year push. Do I have anybody who's in or around sales in the room? So you know as well as I do there's those quarterly, semesterly, and then end of the year pushes. And then again that 365 day view. I'm really asking myself to pause and reflect, and I know we're heading in a direction. I know we've got these larger goals. What is it that I want to do? To check off the list? For those of us who are to do list makers, start to write those things down. For those of us who are calendar, we use our calendars, one of my favorite activities from a mentor of mine, a guy named Peter Drucker. I never got to meet Peter Drucker I just read all of his books. So I call a mentor anybody who was willing to teach me, and he was. He taught me this exercise through one of his books. Where you open up your calendar, and you can do this with a paper calendar or a digital calendar, and you just go out 174 days. It's a Wednesday. I'm making this up. Open that calendar and in the note area you type what you hope your life looks like on or by that date. And I am telling you, it combines all three of these: To Be, To Do, To Have And every time I've done this, open the calendar, I'll close my eyes and I'll just click forward a few months out past the halfway, past the year mark sometimes, and then I'll just write three, four, five paragraphs. One of two things happens every time. One, I get to the 174th date, completely forgetting that I had written anything down, I read that thing and I go "Wow, I thought I was going to be a lot further than I am by now. What do we need to do? What do we need to renegotiate? What do we need to do to change?" Or, and as soon as I say this, I'm going to have a lot of looks of recognition, "Wow, I handled that three months ago. We're already there. How do I go out into deeper water? How do I climb a higher mountain? What can I do next?" And so this little tool, this little chart. I love it because it's always with me. If I'm on an airplane and I'm kinda bored, I can watch the movie, or I can open up my notebook. I give myself the squares, and I just start filling those in I won't go into as much detail about the Be or Have only because throughout the course of getting momentum at work, we're going to touch that a few more times.