Over the past decade of studying psychology, neuroscience and the highest performers in the world; I’ve seen many different patterns between these top business leaders and entrepreneurs.
However, this year one has emerged as the single biggest thing they do differently. It’s also the most boring and least sexy area of business and life…..which is probably why so many of us neglect it and don’t take it as seriously.
The one thing high performers do…is they are consistent and relentless planners. When I say this, I don’t mean over preparing for meetings or spending most of your days planning….what I mean consistency.
These leaders have created their own unique system that enables them analyze their past moves, to better influence their present-day actions so it can help them improve their ability to forecast their future goals.
Why We Avoid Planning
Most of us avoid planning because we don’t do it enough to get good at it. We set goals here and there, but don’t fully commit to them or don’t fully measure and analyze where we need to improve.
The other factor is planning can be overwhelming. Humans procrastinate when the task at hand is too much and there are too many moving parts. When you are trying to plan out your life or business, it can be hard to know where to start so we tend to avoid it for immediate rewards.
Your Brain’s Reactive State
As I say in most of my speeches and at my public seminars, I am naturally an extremely disorganized and undisciplined person. And the thing I’ve always done (which the highest performers DON’T DO) is neglect planning.
I always used to tell myself:
“Ok on Sunday I’m going to spend an hour to plan out the week!” but then something else pops up. Or I say “Alright Monday morning I’m going to schedule time to map out my day and the rest of the week.”…but then urgent emails hit the inbox or I realize that prospecting or putting together a proposal is more important.
I get stuck in a reactive and urgent state.
The problem with this is I by focusing on the urgent, I often forget about the important. By not planning, I lose sight of the bigger picture as my brain zeros it’s focus on the problems at hand. Naturally when we are stressed out, our brain narrows and shortens its focus which makes it impossible to plan for the long-term and hard to assess our priorities because everything seems urgent.
How to Plan Like the Highest Performers
1) Don’t Neglect Planning:
Understand that the hour you spend at the beginning of every week or month is more important than anything you will do. Stop putting it second to everything else. If you want to crush your goals in 2017 and reduce your stress, get better at planning.
2) Growth Mindset:
Understand that if you are not good at planning, forecasting your goals and following a schedule, you can get better!
This isn’t me trying to motivate you, it’s science. Now of course some people are naturally extremely disciplined and you may never reach their level and it may never come to you as naturally. But you can get better if you consistently keep scheduling and consistently keep measuring every day, week and month.
But understand, it’s going to be frustrating and difficult. And you are going to fail over and over and over again. You’re going to miss your daily and weekly targets, but that is how you learn what you are capable of. That is how you take that knowledge, implement it and adjust.
When things aren’t going as planned ask yourself these questions so you can learn and improve:
Why are you not following your schedule? Whats getting in the way? Are you not giving yourself enough time on each task? If so, how much more do you need to give yourself? Or are distractions getting in the way? How can you eliminate them?
Or are you trying to do too much that day? Is your TO-DO list too big and never complete? Maybe it’s time to dial back the number of items you think you are capable of doing.
Are you not factoring in obstacles such as commute times, meetings, emergencies, family, friends, social events or meals?
Plan. Fail. Assess. Adjust. Implement….Plan. Fail. Assess….
3) Schedule everything:
Every single high performer always regurgitates this same phrase: “What gets scheduled, gets done”
The problem is most of us lack discipline and know that we’re not going to follow a super tight knit schedule. We also don’t want to make a big plan and always see ourselves fail at following it.
But by not trying to be diligent at our scheduling, we can never become disciplined at it.
The highest performers in the world, don’t read in their spare time…they read in their learning time. It’s scheduled and it gets done.
They don’t write only when they feel inspired, they have a schedule they stick to.
And most importantly they schedule time with their family and loved ones. Don’t wait for free moments to do things with your family, book it in advance. Take initiative and treat family time like an important meeting.