Best Planning Practices

Is there something in your life you want that you’re not making progress toward? If so, it’s a sign you don’t have a good plan to make it happen.

All the desire in the world isn’t enough to make something happen.

But the right plan? The right plan changes everything. It gets you to where you want to go.

What do you have the desire for that you’re not making progress toward?

The answer to making progress toward your goal is the plan you have to make it happen.

In this episode, you’ll learn exactly how to plan the right way.

Here are more of my favorite planning resources:

Full Best Planning Practices Episode Transcript

Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.

Hey, how are you? I cannot even tell you how excited I am to be talking with you today and I don’t even know why I feel like I just want to chat and that is amazing. I spent all weekend on my funnels. It was really fun. If you don’t know what a funnel is, it’s basically the process that a business takes to get the customer to go from point A to point B, right? You can apply it to brick and mortar businesses and you can also apply it to online businesses.

So I was in my email funnels all weekend and it got me thinking about planning. The reason that I was working all weekend, which I normally don’t ever do anymore, which is amazing, is because I went to a business conference not that long ago and was taught by my mentor more about love, which I love how she always teaches us about love and like the most random ways.

And I love my business obviously, and I love my money, but what I’m thinking that I didn’t think about loving was my funnels and for online business funnels is where you make all your money. She made a an off the cuff comment about loving your funnels and I was like, Oh my gosh, I don’t love my funnels.

So I spent all weekend giving my funnels lots of attention. Now what does that have to do with anything for you? I just want you to think about your life and what you want most right now and whether you’re giving enough attention to it and loving it, and it could be for your funnels, it could be for your business in another way it could be for your health, it could be for your family, whatever it is, you know, it’s like are you actually giving enough attention to it?

And that kind of goes into what I want to talk about with you today, which is planning. Now I love to plan. I definitely think I’m like that type A firstborn planner at heart. But what I’ve learned over the course of becoming a life coach is how I do what I do. And I really honed in on how to teach it. So I love teaching planning and I think that planning is one of the best things that you can do for yourself.

And I think that it’s totally underrated and it gives like the biggest results. So when I’m talking about planning, I’m talking about like big picture planning, like your life, like your longterm goals. Like where do you want to be in 5, 10, 20, 50 years. And then also just like the day to day, like what does today look like? What does this week look like? All of that stuff.

So it’s like the big picture and the small picture. So for the big picture planning, I want you to think about like what do you want most in your life? And I like to look at like eight life categories and I’ll tell you what they are. And this is what I teach in my programs. But there’s tons of different ways to break it up. So if you don’t like these life use a different way. There’s no like right or wrong here, but the eight life categories that I like are health, relationships, money, career, personal, spiritual development, like environment or space, which would be like your home or office recreation and fun and like volunteer and contribution. I love those categories. I’m always looking to see like, okay big picture, where do I want to be in each of those categories? And typically there’s like a few at a time that I’m working on and I just really am future-focused in that way.

So what I think is amazing is to look at each area and say, okay, is like what I’m doing now working and is it taking me in the direction that I want to go? And you can do this and it can have like incredible results in your life. So let’s just take like your career. You’re kind of feeling unfulfilled in your career and you’re not really doing anything about it. Well this would be an area where you would really want to pay attention to because you know that feeling of unfulfillment isn’t changing, but you’re just kind of sitting in this like meh with your career. Like you know, it’s not what you want to do. You’re feeling kind of unfulfilled but you’re not really doing anything about it. So in five years, in 10 years in 20 years, you really don’t want to be doing what you’re doing now and you got, you got to know you won’t be, but there’s no like plan to do anything about it.

So this is where I want you to start coming up with a plan. This is very different than like the day to day planning. So for this big picture planning, you can use a lot of the goal setting tools that I have on my site. I also have like dream year, which is one of my products. It’s an ebook that I highly recommend. But the key here is to like think about what you would want big picture and just choose something like for your career that’s not what you’re doing now. Right? And then create a plan to move forward in that area of your life. So if it’s a career and you’re not really sure what you want to do but you think you might like a different career, you would create a plan to reach out to different people in that career and have lunch with them or something like that.

Something that gets you to take action moving forward instead of just living in that like unfulfillment and in decision, which is so easy to do because we just keep repeating more of the past, right? It’s very like easy to just go day to day and like look forward to the next vacation and like before you know it, you’ve been there three years and you’re like, man, I want to leave.

This is very different than like the day to day planning where when I talk about day to day planning, I want you to look at your calendar right now. And if you don’t use a calendar, what I recommend using is G calendar. This is like the Google calendar. So as long as you have like a Gmail account, you have this and you just Google G calendar and it’ll pop up and you can log in if you don’t have a Google email get one and it’s really worth it because you can sync it to your phone and it’s just fantastic.

So I, it took so much time to set up all these specific calendars like within the G calendar. So there’s the main G calendar and then you can color code different calendars. So while like I have one for work, I have one for like events that happen, you know, after work, before work, I have one for birthdays, I have one for when bills are due, like that sort of thing. And they’re all color coded. So I can kind of see very quickly how much time I’m spending in each area. Right.

And then every single day I have on my calendar what I’m doing for whatever time. So I have on my calendar when I coach myself in the morning and then I go to the gym, I have that on my calendar, I have shower and get ready on my calendar because it blocks off the time and I just, you can create it as a recurring event and know if you’re like thinking, okay, well this is a lot and I don’t know how to do any of that.

Don’t let that stop you and overwhelm you. This is also easily figureoutable. You can just go online and search it and search, you know how to create a calendar in G calendar. Right. It’s very figureoutable and it’s worth it. It’s so worth it. And so every day in the background, I have this up where I have it blocked off into sections. Right? And so then after you know, the gym, I have my morning work and I have what I’m going to produce during that time. And then I might have like a space for lunch and then sometimes, and then the afternoon I have the work that I’m going to produce in the afternoon. And then in the evenings like I have that relaxed time or I might have like an event scheduled, like you know, happy hour with girlfriends or whatever the case may be. And then I do the exact same thing for the weekends.

And this is something that I fill out. Usually I have like I always have the upcoming week done and then I start to fill out the next week like as the current week is going and I make sure that it’s complete by the end of that week. So really I’m working on like a two weeks timeframe where it’s always filled out. So if someone asks me to do something for them or do something with them within two weeks, like it’s an automatic no, like always.

And I’m like, Nope, I’m booked. Like I have room for that in a few weeks. Like sometimes it’ll be something like an interview or something. I’m like, I’ll have time for that in a few months, you know, and they’ll want it like next week. Right. But the, the key here is that you’re planning your life and that’s the priority and you can respond to other people’s requests secondary. And I want to make a note here about like enough time, what is enough time for something and I want you to think about like your highest priority and what your like goals are right now.

And I want you to make sure that you’re always giving it enough time. That should be the standard. You don’t have to give your highest priority the most time, it just has to be enough time. So an example here is like your health. So let’s say your health right now is your number one priority. You’re trying to lose weight and do meal planning and workout and all this stuff. It might be that enough time to make that your number one priority is two hours a day. And that’s all you need, right? With like your meal planning, you’re cooking and you’re working out, let’s just say it’s two hours and that’s enough time for it to be number one priority. So it doesn’t have to be the most time.

But what I see is that where people mess this up is that they will say that they want to build a business and then they’ll genuinely have the desire to build the business, but they’re unwilling to put in the time and give it enough attention.

It takes a tremendous amount of time to build a business. And it’s kind of like saying, you know, I want to become a physician but I don’t have time to commit to med school. It’s like, okay, well then you’re not going to become a physician. You know? It’s like one of those things.

So whatever it is you want, you need to give enough time to it. So when you’re planning, really be mindful of that. If you want like really big results, like think about what it takes for whatever it is that you want. So for the health, it could be that it’s not a lot of time, right? But if you’re building a business, it could be, it’s going to be a lot of time. And do you really have that time? And if you don’t, then maybe you need to reevaluate like your goals and take a lot longer and you know what’s the rush, that sort of thing.

Now, if you plan in this way where you have your big picture goals and you make them a priority and then you shrink it down to your day to day planning and you’re blocking it off on your calendar, it feels superficially very restrictive, but I’m telling you it’s not. It’s not too rigid. It’s not restrictive. It’s actually very, very freeing because if you do it right, if you do it right, you’re going to give yourself so much space in your calendar. You’re going to give yourself time to read or reflect or time to hang out or time for fun, whatever it is.

Like I’ve said, I haven’t been working on the weekends lately, but most recently I have and that’s okay because I am actually redoing my courses. I’m rebranding all my courses. Super fun. A little side. One thing I’ve learned from working with my mentor business and life coach Brooke Castillo is to always be reevaluating what you’ve created and ask yourself would you create it again without any of the drama and without any of the history, like would you make that decision if you were starting over?

And I had to say like for my courses I would create the same content but I would have packaged it differently. So that was a hard pill to swallow. And what that means is right now is I’m kind of diving back into product creation mode a little bit where I’m repackaging all of my courses and you can kind of see that right now with my free courses, I have Online Business For Her, which is a free course and I have Money Mindset For Her, which is a free course. And I have Personal Development For Her, which is also a free course. And those free courses I just kind of redid and as part of redoing my funnels and now I’m going to redo the actual three courses that I sell. So what this means is like I’m putting in a little bit more time because I need to be very involved in that part of the rebranding of these courses.

Now I know that this is just for a very short season, like a couple months. It’s fine. I don’t mind putting in that time on the weekends. But you have to be really, really aware of like what you want to create in the future and whether you’re willing to put in enough time for that. And if you are like, have you scheduled it and you know that you have or haven’t, if you look at what it is you want and if you’re moving forward or not.

So a really good example would be the courses, right? So I decided that I wanted to do this refresh for them and I’ve already made a ton of progress, right? So I know that I’m actually doing the thing that I want to be doing because I’m making progress, right? I just did all my new funnels and like new videos and I’m rebranding the courses.

Like I’m making progress now. If there’s something else you want and you’re not making any progress, I want you to look at your calendar. You probably haven’t created a plan for it. So I will say for me an example would be like being at my best weight, like I’m maybe like five or 10 pounds heavier than like my best weight. And I tend to fluctuate between this, like health is really not like a big concern for me because I genuinely just like am active and healthy. So it’s always been fine.

But I know, you know, like when you kind of get to your upper weight, you’re like, okay, I’m gonna you know, ring it in. Oh this is. So that’s where I’m at. But there has been zero progress on this and I’ve kind of wanted this for the last couple of months. But if you look at my plans and my calendar and my life, like I’ve like done nothing to make this happen.

Like there’s no, I don’t, I don’t have a plan in place. I’m just like hoping that the weight it just like happens. Right. And I see people do this with like their businesses and it doesn’t work. So whatever it is that you want in your life, it doesn’t have to be business or health. Like it can be anything. Whatever it is you want. Are you making progress on it?

If you’re not making progress on it, something isn’t right. So look at your calendar. What time do you have blocked off for it? What is your plan to make it happen? If you actually have a plan, you should be making progress on it. Even if you have like the obstacles and the failures. Because when that stuff comes up, if you’ve done it right, you’re going to keep going and it’s going to propel you forward even if you have some setbacks.

And that is another note. So when you are planning, I don’t want you to let obstacles get in the way and I want you to turn obstacles into strategies. So one obstacle for me for rebranding my courses was that I really wanted better sales pages and where I have my courses at, like the sales page builder is kind of clunky. Like, I don’t love it. So it’s kind of like, well I can’t really rebrand them cause I don’t, you know, like all this chatter, like how am I going to do it? Like whatever.

So I decided that I was going to hire a designer and now I don’t know a designer, I didn’t at the time I was like, okay well I don’t, I don’t know how to do that. And so I just decided, okay, instead of letting my mind freak out and say, well I don’t know a designer so that’s not going to work or it’s just too much effort or whatever.

All that chatter I was having, I decided to just take one step forward and that one step forward is key. So I went into Slack and I messaged a whole group of coaches who I have access to as a life coach and I asked for designer recommendations and like within a few hours I was already on a zoom call with a designer and she is going to help me create worksheets. And then I have another designer who’s going to create the sales pages.

So whenever you have an obstacle, I want you to write that obstacle down and then turn it into a strategy and put that strategy on your calendar. And this way you won’t let the obstacles stop you and get in the way. Another thing that tends to get in the way for planning is indecision. So indecision, which is like living in like, I don’t know, it kind of feels responsible, but it’s really just procrastination.

Listen to the podcast episode on decision making. If you haven’t, it will help. But I do want to mention here that you really have to get good at practicing the skill of being a quick decision maker so you don’t waste time and because this is just how you design your dream life, right? So oftentimes what happens is like you’ll feel like you’re being responsible by taking more time to make a decision, but really you’re just prolonging it and procrastinating it and you end up making the same decision anyways and all you did was wasted all that time. So give yourself a deadline. There’s tons of tools in that episode. But what I really like to do is say like, okay, what would myself in five years want me to decide right now? And like within seconds I can decide. It’s like amazing. And then usually it’s like the harder option, right?

And you’re like, Oh, like feeling in your gut. But that’s okay. It doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. Um, it means that you know, it’s, it’s pushing you outside your comfort zone and that you’re growing and that’s like part of it, right? So being an indecision will be so draining on you and once you make that decision, you’re going to have a very clear head about it and you can move forward very, very easily. Like it’s so much better. Okay.

So you have these day to day plans on your calendar and specifically G calendar and you have it up all the time and you are very focused on how you’re using your time. And this is giving you more freedom because you know exactly how much time you’re allotting to what area of your life. Like it’s all about being really, really intentional so that you’re creating this life that you want most.

But I want to mention that you actually have to show up and do what’s on your calendar. Sounds so obvious. Right? But it’s true. It’s like some of us don’t do what’s on our calendar and I know that because you guys tell me that, um, you have to get in the habit of honoring your commitments to yourself.

So I know if something’s on my calendar, it’s as good as done. Like there’s no chatter in it because I have just practiced this as a skill. So there will be times where I don’t want to do it. Let’s say like, I don’t know, almost all the time, right? Like this past weekend actually is a really good example. Saturday I woke up and I was like energized for like an hour and then by the time I was ready and sat down to do and I had like 10 hours of work ahead of me on a Saturday.

I really did. I wanted to take a nap and I’m like not a napper, which is kind of funny. So for some reason I just really wanted to take a nap. Um, but I didn’t, I just sat there and I did all of that work. I just did it. And I tell this to you because I just want you to know that more often than not, it might feel like you don’t want to do the thing that you have to do that’s on your calendar. But that discipline, that self love is going to be what gets you the results that you want most. So you have to, you know, practice not giving in to kind of that desire to just seek pleasure in the moment. Right. It would have been great for me to just say, okay, well I’ll just take a nap instead. Right?

Like no one would have, you know, said anything. It’s fine. Like literally nothing. But I wouldn’t have made so much progress on my goals. Right. So I say this because I hear from so many people that like they want to do things when they’re inspired and that is a recipe for failure because it’s just not practical and it’s not going to get you the results that you want.

You have to have consistency and you have to know that there’s going to be so many obstacles and failures that you need to push through to get these results in a way that is kind of uncomfortable, but it’s so worth it. And I really think that, I learned this in law school, right? It’s like I would sit down for 10 and 12 hour days, like on the weekends, like no problem. And just study, right? I did that for three months straight for the bar.

That’s just what you did. And I think that anyone who’s gone to professional school kind of gets this, right? It’s like they own you, but you know that it’s only for three years. But imagine if you did that three years for whatever it is you want most right now for like whatever goal it is. So for building a business, right?

It’s like we don’t give ourselves that sort of structure even though we want even bigger results, right? Like I make more money now than I did as a lawyer, but it’s because I’m willing to put in that time and get those results. And the more that you know, more money I make, the less that I have to work. But like, like I said, right now it’s coming up that I want to do something that’s requiring a little bit more work from me than normal and I’m totally okay with that.

You just have to be willing to practice and show up for yourself. So I recommend doing is forcing yourself to honor your commitments on your calendar and what you planned out even if you don’t feel like it. So let’s say you said you are going to work on your goal or business or whatever it is from like 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM whatever day, like Tuesday and Thursday.

And of course 4:00 PM on Tuesday comes around and you really just want to like make dinner and relax cause the day was not great or something like that. You sit down and you do what you say you’re going to do from four to seven even if it means that the quality is going to be lower than if you just didn’t do that and you waited until the next day or something. The way that this works is like you honoring what you say you’re going to do and so your brain just gets used to you doing that so that even though it might not be the best quality that time, the more that you do this, the more you’ll get in the habit of showing up and it will get better over time.

So you will rely less on like that feeling of inspiration, right? You’ll become a professional and you’ll sit down and you’ll get to work and it doesn’t matter how you’re feeling and that’s how you get the big results. It takes so much producing to produce a business that you have to be able to work through, not feeling like it and show up for yourself. And this is true for any goal, right?

It’s like, you know, running a marathon or losing weight or anything. It’s like doing it when you don’t want to do it is something that it takes a lot, but it’s so worth it and you’ll be so proud of yourself when you’re done and you build it. It’s kind of like going to the gym for the first time. It’s like that. That workout class, I started going to core power yoga and the first one I was sore for like four days after and now it’s just part of my routine.

Tuesday mornings it’s core power yoga and and maybe I’m sore for a day later and that’s it. So you’re building that muscle. It’s like with any goal, right? It’s like, okay, I don’t want to sit down and do this and I can’t sit down for five hours straight, but I’m just going to sit down for three hours straight and then just get up for a short break and then sit right back down.

Your mental toughness needs to be increasing in a way that really is going to help you achieve your goals. And remember, hopefully you’re putting on your calendar, downtime and rest time and relax time so that you’re not only achieving your goals but that you’re like designing your days the way that you want. So that’s the whole point of this planning. It’s so you get to do what you want to do no matter what anyone else wants.

And I don’t mean what you want to do in the moment. I mean what you want to do longterm. So like I said, I get requests all the time and the turnaround is like within a couple of days or a couple of weeks and I just say no. Like I don’t feel bad about it. It doesn’t matter who it is, I just say, Oh no, I’m sorry I’m booked. I have room in a couple of weeks or in a few months or whatever.

And this alone has changed my life because it’s just something that I know I’m always looking at the next two weeks and planning and it like really makes a difference. In my life, like I know exactly what I’m producing all the time and I always show up for myself. It’s just a skill that I’ve honed regardless of how I feel. Even if I want to take a nap, there’s no thought drama, I just sit down and do it.

I might have a little pity party for like two seconds, but I still do it. Okay. Some other tools that I use for planning besides G calendar, I love Asana. This has been a productivity tool that I really like because it’s allowed me to plan the next several months out. So I have like these big goals for my business and Asana and I make sure that I’ve taken what’s in Asana for each month and put them on G calendar. So I know that I’m always like on track.

I love Evernote. I use the reminders app, I use the productivity planner, but I just, I mentioned these just because I’ve had experience with them, but I love telling my students and readers like you don’t need another planner, you need a plan. Okay. Like we are always looking for the next planner to be like the solution, and I just want to offer you that the solution is not outside of you.

It’s actually just in your mind. Okay? You have to come up with the plan. No one else has the plan for you. You come up with the plan and you put it on your calendar, you time block it out and you honor your commitments and then the result is that you literally get to design your dream life just like you want. It works like magic. It’s not a cliche. I highly recommend that you do it this way so that you can create the exact life that you want for yourself. All right, I’ll see you in the next one.

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