It's that time of year again. Time for people to resolve to lose weight, and then join a gym they never attend. Or to promise that this will be the year that they get a better job. And then they will continue to go about January, just as they did this passing December.
Learn a new language. Maybe you'll even buy a language book. Or Rosetta Stone. But three months on you still can only order cheese or have a taxi take you to the nearest gas station.
Every year we make the same resolutions. And every year we fail to live up to them. Why is that?
The answer to the above question is really quite simple. Because saying you want to do something is merely the first rather small step in actually achieving it. Without a plan, and the execution of that plan, you are guaranteed to fail.
So on this New Year's, don't make a resolution. Ignore the word completely. Instead, make a promise to yourself, and then sit down and make a plan. And after you do that, tell as many people as you can about your plan. The more people that are in the loop, the more you are held accountable, and the easier it becomes to follow through.
In 2015 I have made two promises to myself. I will write, edit, and publish two books this year. And with the help of my new Chinese marketing consultant and speaker's agent, I will break into the motivational speaker's market in Asia. (As well as add more clients here in the U.K.)
My writing plan is as follows:
Book One is broken into seven main sections. At two weeks per section, I'll be done with the draft in fourteen weeks. From a daily standpoint that means I need to write around 2,000 words a day. That will give me far more words than will actually be in the final edition of the book, which is good. Not all writing is created equal. Some days are better than others. And many days are filled with hundreds of words that are, quite simply, crap.
Add another four to six weeks for edits and layout, and by May 31st I should be at the self-publishing process with Amazon. My previous books have all been released through a publishing house. This will be my first self-published book. So I'll build a two week buffer zone between May 31 and June 14 in case the learning curve on Kindle layout and publication proves to be a steeper than I think.
So Book Two, which has already been researched, will get underway in earnest no later than June 15. It has nine main sections. In truth I can probably complete a section a week. But accounting for travel days, speaking engagements, etc, I'll give myself deadlines of two sections completed every three weeks. So essentially three months of writing for the entire rough draft.
Add in four to six weeks for edits and layout, and I should be publishing by the first week of November. Just in time for me to celebrate with a blowout weekend in London when my beloved Kansas City Chiefs come over to play the Detroit Lions at Wembley Stadium.
And that plan to start speaking in China (not to be confused with speaking in Chinese):
My marketing assistant is already in the process of laying the groundwork with corporations in Hong Kong and Beijing, where he previously worked. We're in communications with the Chinese language publisher of my book, Heart of Iron, and expect to get their assistance in combining speaking events with book sales. And on my end of things, I am working to increase my online visibility in China - not always an easy proposition - as both a speaker and author.
So that's my plan for 2015. I share it with you for two reasons. One, and most selfishly, because it will help me be accountable. I now have a great number of people who will be expecting to see a new book from me this June. Great. Now it's on me to deliver.
But I also want you to see what I mean by creating a plan, and not a resolution. Saying I want to write two books this year is incomplete, but also quite intimidating. On the surface it sounds like a mountain of a task, until I break it down. When it's in daily and weekly chunks I can begin to visualize the progression.
If your plan for 2015 is to lose 50 pounds, it sounds like an enormous task. But break it down into 52 weeks, and what progress you expect to see at various intervals along the way, and all of a sudden it's conquerable.
Run a marathon. Don't think about 26.2 miles. Think about where you need to be three months out from race day. Then two months. Then one month. Break it down into a series of small plans that all serve to advance your larger plan for 2015.
You want a better job for 2015? First, write down a list of jobs that you can do, that will pay your bills, and that you personally would consider "better" than what you currently have. Research how you get those jobs. What skills you need, or perhaps already have, but still need to be "professionalized." Write out a plan. Talk to others in the industry. That is perhaps the most important thing. We live in an age where we can interact with hundreds of people at a time. The more people who know, the better your odds that you already know someone who can assist you.
And finally, after you make your plan, execute it.
I find that there is one very easy way to stay on the path of successful execution. At the end of each day, ask yourself this: "Did today get me closer to my goal?"
As long as you don't string more than two "nos" together in any one week, you'll be fine. And by this time next year you'll be healthier, happier, making more money, admiring your marathon medals, in love, speaking like a native during your Christmas trip to Italy, living in a new home, celebrating a promotion, and mapping out a plan for success in 2016.
Happy New Year!!