More Than “Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail”
We’ve all heard the saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” That’s very true. But it goes further than planning. Having worked with small businesses over the last couple of decades, I have seen a common theme over and over, and it’s something that can cripple a business. It’s execution–or rather lack of execution. As Michael Dell once said, “Ideas are a commodity. Execution of them is not.”
It doesn’t matter how great your idea is. If you don’t do anything with it, it will die before it starts or you’ll take too long, and someone else will beat you to it.
There are many reasons why people have problems executing their ideas, and it’s time we get real with ourselves and overcome what’s holding us back from accomplishing our plans and achieving our potential.
- Are you just overwhelmed?
- Are you scattered and trying to tackle too much at once?
- Are you self-sabotaging because you don’t feel you deserve the success?
- Do you lack the resources?
- Are you truly focused?
- Are you over-thinking it or waiting until your plan/product is perfect?
- Are you doing too much busy work?
- Do you really align with the idea?
Any of the above reasons are common problems people face when trying to bring their ideas to fruition. You CAN overcome them!
Overwhelmed or Tackling Too Much at Once
If you’re overwhelmed or trying to tackle too much at once, there are several things you can do to make things easier for yourself.
Break the project down into smaller portions, goals or steps. Doing so goes along with the adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” While you need to keep an eye on the big picture, not looking individually at the different pieces can stunt your progress. So, break the plan into different segments and different goals. Setting micro-goals can help, as well. When you see that you’re making progress of any kind, it boosts your self-esteem and can fuel you to keep pushing forward.
You’ll also need to put together the team that can help you with your execution. (This might need to be done before you break down your project into smaller segments if you’re not even sure where to start or are embarking on something outside your comfort zone.) Enlist people who possess the knowledge or strengths in areas where you might not be at the same level, or who can execute portions of the plan you simply don’t like doing. You must consider the cost of doing things at which you’re not efficient, both financially and emotionally. If it takes you 3 hours to do something that it takes only 30 minutes for someone to do who is more experienced, that could cause you to miss out on potential time you could be using to pull in income from an area where you excel. Or if the task sucks the life out of you, it could negatively affect your ability to excel at the other tasks, thus adversely affecting the entire project.
Once you get your team in place, be careful not to micromanage. Micromanaging can really halt progress, undermine your team’s confidence and pull you right back into feeling overwhelmed. We’ve all encountered micromanagers before. They want to sign off and every single thing involved with the project, then they get too overwhelmed by everything they have to review, and the plan hits a wall, doesn’t progress like it should or makes the team feel horrible. Micromanaging can even cause great team members to abandon the project out of frustration. Instead, check-in with your team on regular, but pre-determined times that still ensure that things are progressing correctly, but don’t interrupt the flow.
Something else that can derail a team’s efforts is lack of communication. Don’t mistake that with needing to micromanage. Ensure that each team member clearly understands the goals, their role in the project, and the vision behind it. Once everyone understands things clearly, let them do their job.
No matter the size of your team, be sure to establish some accountability for both your team and yourself. Either align with another person who is in a similar position as you or someone who has been in your shoes, and permit them to hold you accountable for achieving progress.
Lack of self-confidence can be tripping you up and cause you to subconsciously sabotage your progress. It could be either a lack of confidence in your team or lack of confidence in yourself. Honestly examine both of these potentials and see if you’re accurate in questioning the abilities. If you don’t have faith in your team for viable reasons, get another team. If you discover that you truly don’t have the skills needed to execute things properly, change that. Learn what you need to learn, hire whom you need to hire and seek guidance from someone who can mentor you on your journey. If you lack confidence because you don’t think you deserve success, stop thinking that way. You DO deserve success (as defined by you). Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.
Sometimes plans get stuck due to lack of resources. Sometimes, it is what it is, and the timing might just be off. However, many times, there are ways of overcoming a lack of resources. The money is out there. The time is out there. The knowledge is out there. You just have to want it enough. If you don’t want it enough, dig into that and discover why. It could be a lack of confidence, fear, it’s not a viable idea; perhaps you don’t really care about it…
Focusing on Perfection
Continually seeking perfection is a significant issue for many people. They feel like they can’t execute their plan until it’s perfect. They’re afraid to release that book until it’s perfect. They won’t reveal their work until they think it’s perfect. Don’t even get me started on pointless “planning” meetings. Guess what? It’s probably never going to be perfect. We’re human, and perfection just isn’t always realistic. So, do your best, do your due diligence, have someone else look over your work and opt for progress over perfection. Ensure that meetings have a clear purpose, goal and stick to their allotted time.
If you have too many distractions, and you’re not able to focus. You need to do as much as realistically possible to remove those distractions and set yourself up for success. That might mean only checking Facebook once or twice a day, or turning off your phone if you’re doing something that requires extreme focus. If you’re working on a side-hustle and a busy household is preventing you from focusing, you can set up boundaries with your family, work on it once everyone else is asleep or pop out of the house and go work at a library or coffee shop for a couple of hours.
Too Much Busy Work?
Often people will mistake activity for accomplishment. They get too bogged down by busy work. At the end of the day, if your actions didn’t help you move forward in your goal, then you’ve not made progress, and you should work to not fall in that trap again. So, don’t research yourself to death, don’t spend more time networking than you are actually doing your work and don’t waste your time putting together systems and practices that don’t actually support your end-game or make your life easier.
Do you really align with the idea?
Lastly, if you’re having a hard time executing your plan, check-in with yourself and make sure that the idea actually serves you well. Do you really align with the vision? Once you’ve brought the idea to realization, will you actually be pleased? Do you genuinely care about it?
What stumps you in your journey to execute your ideas? What holds you back from achieving the success you want? Do you have something that helps you achieve execution? I’d love to hear it! Let’s help each other out and share your suggestions below.