Big Plans Are Achieved By Small Steps, When You Make Each One Count

Published by Sonja Carberry, Investors Business Daily

Small, consistent strides help executives reach lofty destinations. How to plot and plod forward:

Prognosticate. Once a year, Carson Wealth CEO Ron Carson looks two decades down the road. “I write down what the things are that I want to have accomplished then,” he told IBD. “I want to get a glimpse into what my future looks like.”

To reach that horizon, the wealth advisory firm’s chief works in reverse by devising plans for years 15, 10, five, three and one.

“Going to the end and working your way backward is really powerful,” said Carson, co-author of “The Sustainable Edge: 15 Minutes a Week to a Richer Entrepreneurial Life.”

Prioritize. The trick is turning those plans into action. “One year is really where the work happens,” said Carson.
Each night, he writes down his vital one thing to accomplish plus six important tasks in priority order. Each is tied to that one-year plan.

Productivity expert Ivy Lee taught brokerage founder Charles R. Schwab a similar six-task approach — and the practice boosted the security dealer’s results.

Proceed. Executives working to complete each task can lose focus as they get tripped up by interruptions. “Sometimes they get overwhelmed in the short term,” Carson said.

A systematic approach helps pros stay on track and methodically move forward. “In the long term, they can get way more done than they thought possible,” he said.

Reconcile. Carson and co-author Scott Ford, CEO of Cornerstone Wealth Management Group, include personal goals in those long-range plans.

Tending to nonbusiness aspirations, such as strengthening relationships and giving back, requires setting priorities and making careful choices.

It also means learning to say no. “Doing fewer but better things,” Carson said.

Contemplate. “Intentional Living and Leadership” author Craig Sroda encourages executives to spend 15 minutes with themselves each morning.

It’s not an easy task. A Journal of Science study found that 66% of participants would rather give themselves an electric shock than be alone with their thoughts for a quarter-hour.

After giving it a try, Sroda was intrigued by how his thoughts jumped around.

“You’re either in control of your thoughts — which requires effort — or they control you,” he said.

Command. Those thoughts guide your daily actions. “Are you controlling your day, or does it control you?” Sroda said. To take the reins, decide the night before how you’ll command the following day — and stick to those plans.

“A long time ago, I read that you rarely win debates with yourself in the morning, so you must decide the night before what you are going to do in advance,” he said.

Control. Planning ahead — in detail — sets a productive pace. Sroda used business author Michael Hyatt’s ideal week template as a way to boost his approach to Monday through Friday.

“I determined what time to get up, what time to go to bed, when email needed to be processed, and when my most productive time is,” Sroda said.

Following the schedule prevents time lost to wheel-spinning activities.

“In the end, this simple change helped me in life balance (and) work effectiveness, and my happiness meter is continuously going up,” he said.

Compromise. Beware of perfectionism. It slows progress.

“You’re so worried about doing everything right that your forward progress comes to a screeching halt,” Sroda said. “Focus on making the best decisions you can at the time.”

Investor’s Business Daily

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