“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

One major key to success is creating a guideline for what you want to achieve. As you move through your professional career you'll notice that your results are quite often contingent upon the quality of your strategy. Therefore, you always want to make sure that you’ve created a plan for getting where you need to go. 

It’s important to know that a plan is needed in order to achieve the level of success you desire, but what’s more important is ensuring that you’ve created the plan that best suits your personality. Creating the right plan is imperative as you need to be following a list of objectives that you feel you can stick to. There is no one-plan-fits-all when it comes to professional success.  You know what you’re motivated and inspired by better than anyone else so make sure that you’re working these items into your plan. 

One phase of planning that’s extremely effective is the 90-Day Perspective. First, ask yourself where you want to be in the next three years. What stage of your career do you want to be in? After you’ve established that, start breaking down your goals of how to get there into 90-day increments. Why 90 days? Well, 90 days is long enough for you to really get some serious accomplishments taken care of but also short enough to where you won’t get discouraged. It’s a good amount of time because you’re able to give yourself a proper challenge without putting too much pressure on yourself to get things done too quickly. 

Another phase of planning that is immensely beneficial, and can serve as a practical complement to the one discussed in the previous paragraph, is weekly planning. We all know what it’s like to be stressed out on Monday about the activities to come that week. We also know what it’s like to sit down on that Friday evening and reflect on our week feeling like we didn’t get enough things completed. A great way to ensure that your week is as productive as possible is by clarifying three wins for the week. Prior to your workweek starting, take some time to identify three things that you want to get accomplished that week. These achievements can be anything from ensuring you’ve responded to all of your emails in a timely manner to surpassing established production goals. It all depends on what makes sense to you, your occupation, and the objectives you’ve set. Planning your week out will assist you in using your time in the most efficient and effective way possible. It’ll also help you gauge the amount of work you can realistically get done within a workweek. Knowing how much time needs to be dedicated to each task will aid you in creating future plans that will be more feasible. 

While it’s important to create a plan that you can stick to, it’s also important to understand that life is fluid. Your tasks can change on a day-to-day basis which can, in turn, alter your plan. Don’t beat yourself up when this happens. Just learn to accommodate and adjust to what life is throwing you. Your success is dependent upon your ability to stick to your plan while processing any new priorities that fall into your lap. 

Lastly, understand that developing this new plan will take time. You’ll need to collect and analyze your thoughts so that you know what it is that you’re trying to accomplish and you may have to do a bit of information gathering to determine what it will take to get there. Overnight success stories have become prominent these days so, if we’re not seeing immediate results after a short period of time, it can be easy to want to throw in the towel. But it’s good to remind yourself that you’re in this to achieve long-term success, not short-term gains. So create a plan, execute the plan, maintain your determination, adjust the plan when needed, and always look at the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Many times that light is a lot closer than we may realize.