Updated: Nov 10
For those who've been following this series, we've been talking about everything you need to know about setting goals.
In the last few weeks, we've discussed my favourite tools, which I use quarterly in my business. Sure, some people do this only once per year, but if you're running a growing business, doing this every quarter is a great idea.
If you're just starting out or still improving your business, doing it once a year is perfectly fine.
We started our conversations with the idea of modeling. In my post R&D (Ripoff and Duplicate) we talked about the importance of following what successful people do and then moved to talking about our own dreams and how to plan for them. Then, in my post Create Your Visions, Follow The Roadmap, we thought about where we want to be in three years, what we need to do in two years, and the urgent things we need to do this year.
I believe business is like a game, with the rules mainly set by numbers.
Knowing how numbers change and what you need to do every day to reach your business goals is the first step to success. In my post How To Create A Proforma For Your Business we did some numbers work to see what things need to happen every month and week to meet these goals. We looked at where these requirements come from – the needed lead generation and conversions. Next, in my post Your 2024 Lead Pillars, we made a 12-point plan, and explained how to attract potential clients, nurture prospects, and most importantly, get them to make appointments.
After making these plans, you now need to put it into action. There are plenty of smart people with great business plans who sadly don't get anywhere because they fail to act. This leads us to our topic of the day - personal accountability.
Making sure that you have the right structure and self-discipline to achieve your goals is vital. Our business planning toolkit, which is available for download, can help you to be accountable.
The Monthly Action Plan (MAP)
Today, we'll discuss a part of this tool called a 'Monthly Action Plan' or a MAP, digging into its structures, its importance, and the support systems needed for the best accountability.
Now remember, your 'Monthly Action Plan' is not just as a one-time task that's forgotten later. In fact, this tool is pretty much useless if you don't actually use it consistently. We'll look at how this tool can really be part of your life and schedule. Importantly, this will make a big difference for those who really stick to this process. A great business plan with a fail-proof strategy for success becomes pointless without personal accountability and taking action.
Remember in my post The Success Formula where I discussed the concept the Triple A Multiplier? In this, your successes are directly related to the actions multiplied by your skills. Your environment then greatly affects this relationship. So, every day, it's important to ask: what am I doing to improve my actions? And, how am I improving my skills? If you don't take any action, this will cancel out any skill or achievements you may have, just like in multiplication.
Without a clear structure making sure you do the tasks needed to reach your goals, your efforts are wasted. This is not a free ticket - in the real estate business, success comes to those who take big action.
Interestingly, even if your skills are basic, steady and strong action increases results, as you are not starting from zero. As you start to take more action, your skill level will naturally get better over time. Hiring a coach can speed up this process. Doing tasks over and over will also teach you little secrets, improving your efforts. Without a doubt, the biggest factor in success is taking action.
So, why do we need a tool? Can't we just use our willpower and determination? Sadly, studies show that the chances of reaching a goal greatly decrease if they're not written down. This tool makes your goals clearer, concrete, and official, giving you a real roadmap to success. Additionally, writing down your goals makes you think deeply about them, helping you understand them better and be more committed to achieving them.
Your mind works in amazing ways; the more times you assert your goal, the more in sync you are with it, telling your subconscious how important it is. This might be why just writing goals down makes people more likely to achieve them.
So, first, we want to write our goals down. Second, we want to make a layout for ourselves.
Accountability and Structure
A useful framework I want to talk about came from a favourite author, who was a famous real estate investment coach. His book, 'Hard Times Make Strong Men', suggests that about 50% of the population will do nothing despite any effort to convince them. If you're learning from this blog, you're likely not part of this group. Sadly, in real estate, this also means 50% of people won't be successful, no matter what. However, we can still try to help the other 50%.
The author goes on to say that of the active half of the population, around 47% can be successful if guided and kept accountable properly. This covers almost all of the active people, leaving only 3%. This small part will do well no matter what, but interestingly, they also like and do even better with structured accountability.
If we know that about half of the people respond well to an accountable environment, let's talk about setting this up for you. Of course, my coaching company can help, offering structures and support, but the objective is to help you achieve this without spending much or any money. You could build your own structures and maybe find a partner to keep you accountable.
Even if you've failed before, or see yourself as part of the first 50% who are 'unaccountable,' it doesn't mean you should quit real estate and go for a less ambitious career.
I believe that high accountability and self-discipline are like a muscle, rather than qualities you're born with. Just like strengthening a muscle requires doing the same action over and over and pushing yourself, discipline works in a similar way.
Even though I consider myself to be very disciplined now, that wasn't always the case...
When I was younger, I had trouble staying focused, maybe because of ADHD. To help me learn discipline, my mom put me in violin lessons and made me practice for two to three hours every day for about ten years. This tough routine made me good at the violin, but more importantly, it taught me how to be disciplined.
Fast forward to about ten years later when I started working in real estate. My discipline muscle had become weaker because I wasn't using it. I was just trying to learn as I went, with no one to show me how to be disciplined in my work. About five years into my career, I decided to get serious—I hired a coach who was famous for her unique approach to personal accountability. Her intense style tested my commitment and helped me rebuild my discipline muscle over six years.
This experience revived me, gave my business a boost, and strengthened my core discipline. Now, I live a highly structured and disciplined life, and honestly, I wouldn't want it any other way.
Building Your MAP
Knowing that structure and discipline are necessary, let's talk about the tool— the Monthly Action Plan (MAP). This simple one-page piece of paper is part of our business planning toolkit. If you're interested, you could download it from us or make your own.
The MAP starts with writing down key achievements at the top (so you always see them), acting as an anchor. If you remember our discussion about the 12 Point Business Plan, we talked about dividing our annual goal into three main Focus Categories. The MAP continues by listing these areas, to remind ourselves of how we're working towards our goal.
Having quarterly personal sprints and regular check-ins with your business growth are crucial for maintaining and accelerating growth. I regularly take breaks from everything else, and during these times, I look at where my business is and where it's going. Alongside my Operations Director, we think about our current status and what path we want to follow in the future. This involves deciding the most crucial aspect that needs expertise every quarter and perfecting it while updating our business plan from time to time.
These quarterly sprints might seem unnecessary if you're new or you're not used to the fast pace some of us are used to. However, I believe everyone should adopt this mindset because a year is a long time. If you only looked at your goals once a year, chances are, you'd feel quite far from your goals at the start of the year, and as the year went by, you'd probably realize too late that you're falling short.
But dividing your year into quarters, where each quarter is only 12 weeks, makes us feel closer to our goals and makes us feel a sense of urgency. Also, those scary, unclear yearly goals suddenly seem more doable when they're broken down into smaller tasks, achievable in these 12-week periods.
Continuing with our talk about the Monthly Action Plan. Just like we took our yearly goals and broke them down into quarterly and monthly goals, we do the same thing with the bottom part of our page but with a weekly view. This part has four columns, each representing a week of the month.
We make sure our goals are Specific, Measurable, and Simple (SMS). They should be clear—no more than seven or eight words—and can be measured.
Now, breaking these down into weekly tasks lets us better manage our time and resources. We need to focus on both projects and targets:
Projects are bigger tasks that take time to put together, like this podcast or creating an email campaign. These are tasks that take time to start and finish and often require multiple steps to complete.
Targets are particular, tangible goals at the middle of the pipeline that our business needs to reach. Quarterly targets, for example, help us avoid setting goals for ourselves that are too optimistic. Targets are key milestones like the number of appointments, listings, or clients we've successfully sold to.
Keep in mind to always set personal goals along with your business goals. Put your personal life first. You always need to make time to enjoy and take care of yourself. This could be going to a favorite place or working towards a good balance between life and work. Having a fit and healthy body is as important as having a successful business.
In fact, your business should help create a better life, and a big part of that is making more time for yourself. During each quarterly goal-setting meeting, I make sure to stress the importance of strategically delegating tasks within the business. It could be something as small as paying bills, but always trying to take one more thing off my plate is basically like giving more time to myself. Remember, this isn't about getting rid of the task altogether but rather shifting the responsibility.
With a bit of creativity and boldness, there are many ways one can offload tasks. Hiring someone part-time or sharing a gig-person with another entrepreneur can get back some of your time without taking on big costs. Often, the solution could be as easy as extreme prioritization - cutting off what's not working, and pulling back on some unnecessary tasks.
Finally, at the bottom of your MAP page there is a Growth and a Monthly ENDGAME Priorities section. This is where you can create a plan to grow your skills and improve your livelihood, month-by-month.
Weekly and Daily Tracking
At the end of the toolkit, you'll see a section called the Weekly Tracker Worksheet and the Daily Game Sheet. This is where we start to look at the small, specific tasks. The step-by-step breakdowns help create a routine and allows us to ask the same basic questions each week: these can be anything from "What?" to "How many," "When?", and most importantly, "Who?" This section dives deep into the tiny details - the most basic tasks that need to be done.
In this plan, it's important to understand that we have lead and lag indicators. Lead indicators are the actions that lead to results. In other words, they are the steps we take before we achieve the success that we want, which are the lag indicators. For example, in real estate, the commission checks or closings are lag indicators while conversations and appointments set up are lead indicators. Again, make sure your math lines up with your yearly goal; otherwise, you might lose track of what you're aiming to achieve.
It's not uncommon for people to be excited about the plan they've created but not actually follow through with it. Treat your toolkit like a living document— not something that just sits on your desktop but rather as a flexible tool that you should change and adjust. If you didn't do as well on a task this week, reassign it to the next week. If you wanted to have 100 interactions and you only managed 50 this week, then your goal for the next week is 150!
Keeping this document in a physical form, having it at your desk or in your car, makes it easier to access. You don't have to look for it on your device; it's right there, reminding you of what you need to do. Look at it every day, cross off tasks you've done, and keep it updated according to your routine and your personal goals.
My advice for handling unfinished tasks is to move them to the next week. Scheduling time to sit down and deal with unfinished items is vital and it's important to block off time in your calendar for it. Otherwise, other priorities in life will just take over.
Set aside time, ideally the last hour of your work week, to only focus on these moved tasks. This means if your work week ends on Friday at 4pm, you stay until these tasks are done. This practice keeps you responsible and allows you to reduce time spent on these tasks. It's a helpful strategy for staying on top of goals like, for example, keeping in touch with 100 people each week.
On a bigger scale, once a month, take an hour to plan for the next month, moving your monthly and quarterly items around. This time gives you a chance to review your projects, make sure you're focusing on the right actions, and understand how these actions fit into your larger business plan.
If you can manage all this by yourself, that's amazing and I'd be happy to have you on my team.
However, if handling this by yourself is difficult, which is perfectly normal, there's a solution: get help through coaching. A coach gives value by keeping you responsible and giving a lot of knowledge and experience. There are a lot of great real estate coaches and also some who are just looking to take your money and waste your time. So it's important to be careful when choosing a coach. We're quite choosy but feel free to get in touch with us about possibly working together.
Having a coach can lead to shared responsibility and a lot of progress. But if this isn't possible for you, I suggest trying to create a similar relationship with a more experienced person at your workplace, like a broker or your boss. Having them keep track of your work just requires you following through on your promises – most mentors find this commitment rewarding enough to keep helping you.
If you can't connect with someone more experienced, find a coworker who can hold you responsible while you do the same for them. Look for a person who helps you stay focused and suggest a plan to help each other stay disciplined.
Next, set up a weekly meeting with your accountability partner. Use this time to check on your progress, support one another, and ask any questions you have. While it's great to become friends and chat about other things, it's important to stay focused on accountability during these meetings. Feel free to chat outside of these sessions, but don't let your accountability meetings turn into casual hangouts.
Learning about and practicing accountability might seem a bit scary at first, especially if you're not used to it. But with time, like a muscle, you can make it stronger. It takes effort, but the rewards are worth it: more free time and better business growth. In a surprising way, being disciplined gives you freedom by helping you work smart and quickly.
Your personal goals should come first. Things like spending time with your partner, staying healthy, or taking breaks to recharge. After that, focus on the parts of your business that will help you gain freedom. Even though urgent calls and little problems might come up, remember that most of them can wait. If they can't, handle them quickly and then refocus on growing your business.
Following this disciplined, structured way of thinking about responsibility not only strengthens your discipline muscle, but also gives you flexibility, success, money, and most importantly, peace of mind. Being present in every moment, without worrying about money or unfinished work, is an amazing feeling, and I hope you join me on this journey.
Once you master this practice, you'll join the 3% Club. This is the group where people who are really committed to responsibility enjoy the biggest success.
Thanks for joining me in this business planning series. If you're reading this in November 2023, we're having a Business Planning Workshop on Zoom where we'll go through these ideas live–everyone is welcome.
As always, thanks for your time and see you soon.