How to Plan for Success

How to Plan for Success

Have you ever heard the phrase “success comes to those who work”? 

This is most likely true. But there’s one other ingredient that is absolutely crucial to success: planning. 

When you create a plan, the likelihood that you will be successful skyrockets. Your plan will act as your roadmap to success. Once you’ve created a plan, you will know exactly what you need to do in order to be successful and how you’re going to do it.

If you don’t have a plan, you will be stumbling around working on tasks that don’t really matter, hoping to magically become successful. But success doesn’t happen by magic. It takes hard work — and with a little advance planning, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to begin that work.

Success comes to those who plan. Here’s how to start planning for all of your accomplishments.

Successful People are Planners

Success doesn’t come from luck. The most successful people didn’t just get lucky — they had a strategic success plan and then executed it. 

Whether you have business goals to accomplish or personal goals you want to tackle, achieving them starts with a well-written plan or process.

In addition to providing clarity on how to make progress, writing or planning ahead will make you feel more prepared as you face your goals head-on.

Simply put, if you have a plan, you have concrete next steps to follow. You aren’t just sitting around wondering how to be successful. Instead, you’re able to take action because your path is already laid out in front of you.

If you’ve ever written a book or an article, you might be familiar with this concept. If you sit down to write an article with no idea what you’re going to write about, chances are, the article won’t turn out well. You can write all day long — but if you didn’t have an outline to follow, your final article probably won’t make much sense. 

Planning for success is similar. You need a blueprint to help you move forward in the direction of your goals and dreams. And when you’ve taken the time to create that plan, you’ll know where you need to focus to see the biggest results.

People who accomplish goals at a higher rate are those who have developed an effective action plan. To create an action plan, you need to: 

  • Decide exactly what you want
  • Write your goal or goals down on paper
  • Set a deadline for yourself
  • Make a list of everything you can think of that you’ll have to do to achieve your goal
  • Schedule everything into a comprehensive plan

This type of action plan is the best way to be successful in reaching your goals. But if it still sounds overwhelming, don’t worry! We’re going to dive into additional in-depth tips that will help you plan for success.

6 Steps to Plan For Success

You have the potential and ability to accomplish extraordinary things in your lifetime. In order to be successful in life, however, you need to follow a few key habits to help you create and execute your plan. 

Identify Time Wasters

The first thing you need to do to help you plan for success is to eliminate time wasters. Whether it’s the notifications dinging from your phone, the noise of the TV, your kids running around, or construction happening across the street, identify the time wasters and distractions in your life. Most likely, this step won’t take long — you’ll probably be able to easily zero in on the things that you spend time doing, but probably shouldn’t. 

While you might not need to eliminate these distractions completely, they need to go into their proper place. For instance, if you have kids, caring for them is an important part of your life. But you need to find the right balance of work and family time.

Make a list of the primary time wasters in your day or week. Then come up with a plan of attack for how to eliminate or minimize those distractions. Depending on the nature of your distractions, you might try:

  • Putting your phone on airplane mode during certain times of the day
  • Turning off the TV
  • Getting a babysitter for your kids
  • Working at a coffee shop or coworking space instead of your house
  • Outsource low-value tasks (such as scheduling meetings or cleaning your house)
  • Use automation where applicable

By identifying time wasters and taking steps to eliminate them, you’ll be able to be more successful and productive when needed.

Set Your Environment Up For Success

You may have already noticed how a messy space breeds distraction. If you’ve ever wasted precious time looking for that one document you know you have somewhere, or if you just don’t feel as productive when your office is cluttered, you aren’t alone.

There are science-backed reasons for how your physical environment affects your work.

Research has shown that clutter affects both your brain and your work. Our physical environments significantly influence our cognition, emotions, and behavior. What’s more, cluttered spaces can have negative effects on our stress and anxiety levels; our ability to focus; our eating choices; and our sleep. 

Whether your workspace is a room in your house, your office, or simply a table, you can take steps to clean and organize this space. There’s no need to completely redesign your office or deep clean your entire home. Instead, try a few of these easy, realistic tips to spruce up your workspace:

  • Purchase (and use!) an easily accessible trash can
  • Dust your desk on a regular basis
  • Use drawer dividers to keep small office supplies organized
  • Implement a filing system for papers, and shred documents you don’t need to keep
  • Hide any cords, wires, or chargers that go with your devices
  • Use a whiteboard or desk calendar to stay on track with appointments and meetings

Finally, tidy up your workspace each evening when you’re through working so you can start the next morning with a fresh slate.

Create SMART Goals

Setting SMART goals will greatly increase your chances of success. Your goals create the action plan you need, helping boost your productivity as you work toward success. 

So what exactly is a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The SMART acronym acts as a tool to help you ensure that the goals you create are geared to you and your means of success.

Here’s a further breakdown of this acronym and how it works:

  • Specific — What do you want to do?
  • Measurable — How will you track your progress?
  • Achievable — How will you do it?
  • Relevant — Is this relevant to your life right now?
  • Time-bound — When do you want to do it?

As you plan out your SMART goals, write down each of these criteria and write a sentence or two about how your goal fits each. If you can create a goal that aligns with each element, your goal will be much more helpful to you in the long run.

Eat That Frog!

Are you familiar with the concept of “eating the frog”? This might sound strange, but here’s what it means. 

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that it is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. 

To put this illustration into perspective, think of your “frog” as your biggest, most important task. It’s the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. So “eat that frog” is another way of saying to do your biggest, hardest, and most important task first. 

This time management tip will help you unlock high levels of performance and productivity: Develop the lifelong habit of tackling your major task first thing each morning. Eating that frog before doing anything else is a common trait of successful people.

Create A Backup Plan

More often than we’d like, things don’t go the way we originally planned them. That’s why it’s important to have a backup plan — in other words, the steps you’ll take to achieve success if your initial plan doesn’t work out.

Maybe you have other goals you’d like to achieve in addition to the main goal you’re working toward. Consider setting one of these as your plan B. For example, perhaps you want to write a book and produce a documentary, and you’re focusing on the documentary right now. If the documentary doesn’t work out, you could switch gears and write a book instead.

Your backup plan doesn’t need to be very in-depth. In fact, it’s probably better that it isn’t: Research has shown that in some cases, having a backup plan can actually do more harm than good. But having a general idea of where else you could go will be extremely helpful if you do end up needing to pivot and try something else instead.

Stay Open-Minded

Sometimes life is unpredictable — and we can’t plan for the unpredictable. Even if you have a backup plan, the chaos of life might throw you for a loop. When this happens, it’s important that you have the flexibility and comfort to adjust your plans as needed. 

Some aspects of your life might be easier to plan or control than others. For instance, you may be able to count on your children’s school schedule, but be unable to control when your boss needs you in a meeting. Figure out which parts of your life right now are immovable and which ones are more flexible. Then do your best to fit in the tasks you can control around the ones you can’t.

When you’ve planned out certain elements of your life, it should be easier to manage the unplannable moments that occur. The key is striking a balance between control and flexibility — planning certain things and staying more flexible for others.

How to Plan For Success

Success takes hard work. And it also takes careful planning. The best way to plan for success is to eliminate time wasters; set your environment up for success; create SMART goals; eat that frog first thing every morning; have a backup plan; and be open-minded and flexible. By following these steps, you will have a much higher chance of achieving success — whatever that looks like for you.

Want to learn more about how to achieve your goals and optimize your success? Download my Personal Development Plan Template to help! With this template, you’ll be able to improve your success by learning how to evaluate your goals and plan ahead for efficiency. Download the template and get on the road to success today.


About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.

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