Welcome to 2015 - Time to plan your Awesomeness! Three ways to ensure your plan kicks butt

Where the hell did 2014 go!? One minute I was sitting in my Southbank office all by myself thinking of how to grow my little enterprise and suddenly I'm in very cool Melbourne CBD office with six staff planning to launch two huge programs! I guess that's what happens when we focus on stuff you love, time bends and it's  the new year before you know it. Or I'm just getting old...

So what does 2015 hold for you? From what I see from friends and colleagues, there is an excess of positivity and general feeling that this is 'the year'. I feel it too. It's pretty cool actually. It seems like the stars have suddenly aligned to make dreams more reachable. 

Speaking of dreams, it's definitely time to plan for them. I have spent every waking second of the past two weeks thinking, day dreaming and writing plans. It's essential. As the old adage says 'if you fail to plan, you plan to fail'. I'm not sure if that is 100% right, but I do know that having a plan written down makes me feel better. It also makes my investors a bit more confident that I actually do have a plan!

So what makes a good plan? Well there are many forms and after working in large corporates for years and 15 years of business school I have written my fair share of business plans. This year I took a different approach. Here are the three things I did to ensure my plan not only satisfied those that hold the cheque book, but also felt 100% congruent with me.

1) Set an intention

What I mean by intent is a crystallised thought on the ONE thing that is most important for you to achieve in 2015. It needs to be only ONE thing for this process to work. Of course you will achieve many things in a whole year, but this is the MOST important overarching goal. 

For me it was 'The year of being financial'. That means paying down debt, increasing income, being profitable in business and achieving my financial goals. This intent is important to me because it affects several of my highest values: my business, lifestyle, kids, relationships and even health are all effected by the ability to be financial. 

Is that it? Wish it to happen and it will a la 'The Secret'? Surely you jest Andrew. Well actually I am a strong believer in the process of intent, it's the start of everything. In fact you can't do anything if you don't have something you want or some intention to do something. I recommend challenging yourself to find the intent for you in 2015 and then letting it come to you. It will if you are open to it. Once you set your subconscious a task it is amazingly efficient at solving it for you.

Once you have your intent, write it down. Then we need to take action as intent alone is not enough.  

2) Brainstorm your actions

What actions will make your intent real. Write these down in a big list. Let them flow and unravel from your sub-conscious. You will know what you need to do, you just need to access it and document it for future work. 

I work best if I use paper and a pencil as it lets my right brain control my thinking, which is the creative part of ourselves. For men I particularly recommend this style and not using a computer as using technology will engage the left brain which is logic. We don't want logic and reasoning, we are brainstorming and you need creativity for this to work. Mind maps work well in this situation. Women have more corpus callosum, those little connectors in the brain that connect the right and left hemispheres, so will find not be as restricted by the mode. 

Once you have a big list of things you can do to make your intent real the hard part starts!

3) Test your assumptions

The devil is in the detail. Not sure how he got there, but I do know that nutting out EXACTLY how to make your intent and actions work is really hard work. The pay off is that if you do this part of the process you will find things out that will make the whole year much more effective and rewarding.

This is the part when I transferred from pencil and paper to my computer. I first wrote a presentation with the intent and all the actions I will take to get there. Then I spent literally hours and hours detailing how I can make that action real in a spreadsheet. Without the testing of how it will work and proving the assumptions you have, you might be working on the wrong actions to achieve your intent.

When I was four days into my planning I realised that I just couldn't reach some of my goals because the numbers didn't stack up. They didn't look real no matter how many changes I didn't to the variables. Something had to change. So I went back to the intent i had, came up with more ideas on my paper and revised where I was. It was awesome! I had a realisation that significantly changed my business model, for the better. If I hadn't completed the due diligence in my planning, I would have missed this new opportunity and spent the rest of the year chasing my intent without the right plan.

Once you have your intent, a big list of actions to achieve the intent and you have detailed exactly how you can realistically make those actions real - you have a plan.  The amazing thing about planning is that just the process of thinking about it and being completely congruent with your intent will start the Universe providing what you want. It can be amazingly fast too.

No sooner had I created my intent and started my planning that a partner contacted me out of the blue and offered to buy out my share of a business I was involved in. It all occurred in 5 days enabling me to tick a few items off my list before I even started the year! Magic can happen.

I wish you all the best with your 2015 planning and I'm happy to assist if you get stuck.

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Andrew Ford

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.