New Orleans: “I’m finishing off my business plan for 2013.  Is there anything I’m missing?” asked Joe, a new advisor at a major firm.  He’d reserved the first week of the year for business planning and was ready to charge ahead.  Not so fast!  Before we fully move into 2013, let’s make sure we’ve closed the books properly on last year.  So the big question is….

Was 2012 as fruitful as you hoped?

Most people have aspirations – personally and professionally.  Our reasons vary, but most of us want to improve, and the calendar year serves as a guidepost for many of these self-improvement initiatives. 

A number of years ago, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania wanted to uncover the key factors of success.  They conducted studies on new students at West Point, trying to find correlations between students who made it through “Beast Barracks”, the intensive summer before school starts, and those who didn’t. 

Was it intelligence?  Nope.  Confidence?  Hardly.  Their studies found it to be self-discipline – also known as “grit”.  They defined “grit” as those who stick with their initiatives when others get distracted by boredom, failure, adversity, or plateaus.

Think back over the past year.  What activity commitments did you make?  Did you keep them?  What makes this year any different?  Will your new year’s commitments last longer than the crew of new fitness buffs at the gym?

Okay, okay, we’ll lighten up.  We’re sure you’re commitments will last far longer.  But let’s harness the power of the group.  We’re asking that each reader of this column set three achievable fixed daily activity targets.  These should be three activities that, if done every day, will virtually guarantee success in 2013.  Here’s an example:

1: One face-to-face meeting per day with a prospect

2: Five prospect calls

3: One call to a potential or current strategic alliance partner

Your Activity Targets:

1:

2:

3:

We’re moving into the Oechsli Institute’s 35th year as a company.  One of our simplest, but most effective pieces of advice, is to start each day by re-writing your fixed daily activities. 

If you’re thinking about your morning routine, when will you have a couple minutes to write down these targets? With your first cup of coffee?  As soon as you get to the office?  The timing doesn’t matter so long as you actually write the list everyday.  If you’re still writing this list in July, do you think you’ll still be doing the activities?  The chances are pretty high.

Many people make business planning too complex.  There are metrics upon metrics and very few clear-cut daily tactics.  This is where Joe’s business plan got some fine-tuning.  As we worked through this drill, he tossed his actual business plan, and re-focused on a small subset of daily actions.  If he sticks with it, it will work for him, much like it works for students at West Point, aspiring athletes, and anyone else working towards a goal. 

Stephen Boswell and Kevin Nichols  are thought-leaders and coaches with The Oechsli Institute,  a firm that does ongoing research  and coaching  for nearly every major financial services firm in the US.  To take the first step towards coaching, complete the pre-coaching business profile   for a complimentary consultation.