008 | Planning for Success: A Roadmap to Your Best Year Yet

Let’s make 2024 your best year yet!

In this episode, podcast host Patrick Lonergan digs into key strategies to ensure you are set on course for success in the new year.

Learn the importance of working on the business, not just in it, developing a long-term success strategy, identifying limiting beliefs, setting goals, establishing primary objectives, and crafting a compelling vision.

Packed with resources and tools, this episode provides a roadmap for listeners to navigate towards their most successful year.

Key takeaways:

  • Develop a robust strategy for long-term success
  • Set clear and achievable goals for personal and professional growth
  • Access a wealth of resources and tools to support your journey


2024 Planning Resources

Read the Transcript

Submit questions to the podcast


Sponsored by Vital Wealth

Music by Cephas

Produced by BrightBell Creative

Research and copywriting by Victoria O’Brien



Episode 008 | planning for success: A Roadmap to your best year yet

Welcome to another episode of the Vital Strategies Podcast. In today’s episode, we’re going to give you a framework to use for planning. It can be tough as an entrepreneur fighting the fires that pop up daily. We’re going to give you some time today to work on the business, not in it. We think this is critical for long term success.
It may not seem like it’s possible to step outside of the business to work on it, but when we look at our most successful clients that are making between two and fifteen million dollars per year, they are strategically positioned out of the day-to-day activities. That didn’t happen on accident. It also didn’t happen overnight. We understand that.
So we’re going to give you the tools today to start growing in that direction. We have developed free resources that you can download to help you craft a vision for where you want to go with your life, as well as the tools that you can use to plan for the quarter. Year all the way down to your top priorities for each day.
You will want to stay to the end to see how all of these pieces come together and how we reset those limiting beliefs that are holding you back. So, let’s dive right in on how to construct an effective plan for your business and your life.
I’d like to start off by asking you to consider spending considerable amount of time on your planning. It is really important. My suggestion would be to carve out two or three mornings, spend a few hours each day working on your planning. Then give yourself some time to go for a long walk or work on a hobby where you can let your subconscious mind just continue to work on the issues that you’ve identified in your planning sessions earlier.
You’ll be surprised about the revelations that come to you when you give your mind the freedom to work on its own. The first place we need to start is your vision for where you’ll be going in the next three to five years. I believe you should have a vision for both your business and your life outside of the business.
It’s also okay to update the vision because we know that progress will happen year by year. We always want that vision to extend out three to five years from today. We have a great exercise for you to go through to construct your personal and professional visions today. Go to vitalstrategies.com/planning to download your free resources.
Here are the key components to a compelling vision. First, it needs to have clarity. The vision needs to be clear to whoever reads it. They need to understand exactly the direction that you’re heading. It needs to be inspiring. It creates a life that you’re excited to pursue. I think vision boards are great, but at the end of the day, I want you to be able to close your eyes and just see yourself in the motion picture.
Living it. You hear it. You can smell it. It’s full color. It’s all around you. You’re immersed in it. Let’s have it be future oriented. I want it to draw you into the future. Okay? Not in the past, but an exciting position in the future. And what ties to that is it needs to be ambitious. It won’t be easy.
There are some great books on happiness, and they all seem to point to the fact that when we have to work towards things, put in the hard work, we are most satisfied in life. Let your vision be an ambitious challenge you’re willing to work towards. Now, it also needs to be feasible. While ambitious is great, it needs to be realistic and achievable.
A vision that’s too farfetched can be demotivating, because it feels unattainable. There needs to be alignment. The vision should align with the core values and the people that are involved in achieving it. Next is detail. We need to provide enough detail to guide decision making and strategy, but be broad enough to allow for flexibility and adaptation as circumstances change very much. A great example of this is Netflix and Blockbuster. Blockbuster had a vision for being the best in store video service rental company on the planet. Netflix had a vision for delivering convenient in-home entertainment. We know how those stories played out. Next is communication. It needs to effectively communicate a story that people get excited about.
And then commitment. This needs to be something you’re committed to. If your vision just sounds nice, throw it away and start over. It needs to be something that you’re excited about and willing to pursue even when it’s difficult. When decisions are made, the vision is going to be a reference point for you to look back to and help you decide which direction you’re going to go.
Alright, now that we’ve crafted our vision, we’re going to identify our core values. In the free resources available at vitalstrategies.com/planning, we also have an exercise that will help you identify your core values. Our vision and core values are essential when we’re crafting meaningful long-term goals.
For example, here’s our core values. First is love for our team, clients, and community. Now it’s important that it’s top of the list. And it’s also important that we have team, clients, and community listed there. We have to take great care of our team. If we do that, we’ll be able to serve our clients really well. If we serve our clients well, we’ll be profitable and we can have impact in the community.
Next is growth. We need to be growth oriented. We need to grow as individuals inside of our company. And we also need to grow as an organization. We believe in the fact that if we aren’t growing, we’re dying. So we want to be on that upward trajectory.
Then the next two are related reliability and communication. We’re a virtual team. We rely on each other. Our clients rely on us. That’s a critical component. But we also understand that things aren’t going to go well at times. Things will get off track. We need to communicate those. We just need to make sure that everybody understands what’s happening and why it’s happening.
So communication is a critical piece to our organization as well. So love, growth, reliability, and communication are our four core values. They help us make decisions. They help us impact the people that we work with and really shape the direction that we’re going. That leads us to our goals. We want to establish a five year goal and a one year goal.
Now, generally these goals are revenue and profit focused. They may also reflect the size of the team and the type of clients or customers that you’re serving. Let’s start by breaking that down on what a good goal looks like. I like goals. They set our intention and help us create excitement for what is possible.
So, a good goal is a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time bound. A poorly designed goal is I want more revenue. A slightly better goal is I want to 10% and maintain a 15 percent profit margin. A really good goal is I want to increase revenue. By 10% from $6.7 million to $7.4 million and maintain a 15% profit margin that nets at least $1.1 million of profit by December 31st, 2024.
Now, I really like goals, but a goal without a system isn’t nearly as effective. It’s really just a dream. And here’s what I mean by this. If you want to increase revenue by 10%, I now need a system that I can create that will help me get those results.
So for example, if we’ve grown our business by speaking at two or three conferences every year. If we want to hit our targets, we’ve decided that by speaking at six industry conferences for our ideal clients out of the 18 that are held at each year, we should be able to easily hit our growth targets at those speaking events, I’ll have a call to action for new clients and free resources available to attendees that are on the fence. Then we’ll have an email marketing campaign that follows up with new prospects every week with quarterly sales calls to see if we can get the prospect to convert. All of this will be scheduled on the calendar and automated through the contact management software we use.
A critical part of our five year and one year goal planning will be to identify the limiting beliefs that have been holding us back. The majority of the time we don’t realize that our belief system is shaping our lives. There are concepts that we are holding on to that are limiting our ability to make tremendous forward progress.
When we list out our limiting beliefs, it brings them to light and begins to take away their power. Now, this might seem ridiculous. But when I started looking at my limiting beliefs, started surrounding myself with people that were thinking on a different plane, our growth skyrocketed. We started doing real estate deals with extra zeros.
We started working with a different level of client. It was great. This all happened about 20 years ago and was some of the best decisions that we made. Now, I still find myself, when I do this exercise, having limiting beliefs. That we have to address and it’s amazing how when you just list them, you bring them to light, you start thinking about how ridiculous they are, it allows you to move forward quickly or at the very least it allows you to start problem solving around that issue. Now, this might be an area that you want to pursue counseling or coaching to help you move forward. I go to counseling every week. I think my inner game is probably the most important thing that I have, so I work on it consistently.
I also have a business coach through C12. I don’t know if there’s a better investment than working on your mindset and mental health. You can download the goal sheets that we use to plan our business and our lives at vitalstrategies.com/planning. Now once we have those goals outlined, we are going to establish a primary objective for the different areas of our life.
The primary objective is the first project we need to complete to get us toward that goal. It might take a short period of time to accomplish, or all year, but we’re going to have a primary focus. I don’t know if I can overstate the importance of focus. If we go back to the Latin root of the word priority, It is prioritas.
Prioritas means first in rank. I don’t know about you, but there can only be one thing that is first. Having multiple priorities, this is something we’ve done recently, is an intellectually lazy way to go. We should decide that there’s A most important thing, and give that item our attention before we move on to the next thing.
The way that we’re going to determine our priority is create a list of all the projects that need to be considered. I love this quote by Tim Ferriss “Efficiency is doing things right. Effectiveness is doing the right things.” By deciding to do less, we can do things that are essential and more valuable.
But are generally more challenging. It is easier for me to respond to 50 emails than it is to create a new product for the business. The new product has the potential to create tremendous value for the business, and the emails could have waited or been delegated to somebody else. Now, I love the Stephen Covey paradigm shift of putting the big rocks in first.
The big rocks symbolize the most important things in our lives. Then there are these smaller tasks that we have to do every day. And if we think of a cylinder, and if we put the big rocks in first, it’s amazing how all of the small things will fit in around it. But if we do the small things first, we just don’t have the time to do the important things.
I shape my day around this principle. I do the most important things in the morning, and then I spend the rest of the day working on the smaller tasks. You can check out the show notes for a link to the video of the Stephen Covey demonstration on this concept. It’s only four minutes long and it’s worth looking at.
Looking at business planning, there are four areas of your business that you need to consider. The first is revenue generation, then operations management, organizational development, and financial management. Now let’s talk about revenue generation. This might be the most important of them all. If you don’t have money coming into the business on a regular basis, You will soon be out of business.
Operations management. This is how good are you at delivering your product or service. If you’re a service based business that doesn’t have consistent client experience, you need to make adjustments here so you can build systems around your offering to be able to scale it up. The same is true if you’re a product based business.
If there are problems with your supply chain and fulfillment, you need to dig in and sort those bottlenecks out. Something to consider is looking into lean processes, which is a management approach that helps reduce waste and defects. I had a friend of mine that was a lean process wizard. He worked in a manufacturing company and came and spent considerable amount of time with me in my business to see if he could apply the same thinking to a service based approach.
And it was magical how it really transformed the way we approach things. Next is organizational development. This is building and developing your team. Often there is a question of, what if I pay to develop my team and they leave? The flip side of that is, what if you don’t develop them and they stay? Our approach has always been to develop our people and be the best place for them to work.
Now, they are obligated. If we’re not the best place to go find a better place, and that’s okay, we just figure if we develop people and become an organization that delivers top talent day in and day out, people will seek us out. They’ll want to work here. It’ll be an exciting place for them. So next on the list is financial management.
Having great books, reporting controls built into your finances and cash management tools are critical to running an effective business. If you don’t know how you are performing, what is working and what isn’t, How are you supposed to run an effective business? Financial management tools are critical. So, I want you to look at these four areas of your business and outline what an extremely healthy business looks like in each area.
These areas of business health should all be measurable for each category. For this next year, when you do your quarterly planning, I want you to be able to identify if you are on target or ahead or behind target in each of these areas. So, when you look at these four areas, which one needs the most attention?
This will be our primary objective for this quarter in our business. Here’s how we suggest you handle the primary objective, have a weekly team meeting with the key players that can help move this along and delegate items to different members of the team. You can work on the primary objective as a team.
And then for the last five minutes of the meeting, make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what, by when. It is good to send out a follow up email to have all of the details in writing, so there isn’t any confusion. This will help the project move along nicely. So next week when you show up, the things that needed to move will have taken place.
Now, I like setting quarterly primary objectives because that gives you 12 weeks to work on a project. And then one week at the end to plan for the next quarter. Some great resources to dig deeper into this type of work are Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, The Twelve Week Year by Brian Moran, Deep Work by Cal Newport, Essentialism by Greg McAllen, and Traction by Gina Wickman.
We’ll have links in the show notes to all of those books, but I highly recommend you check them out. I also recommend developing an internal rhythm of blocking out time on the calendar for important tasks. Now, my business and personal life are intertwined. I generally schedule my calendar from the most important items to the least important.
We look out three weeks and we schedule the following. Spiritual disciplines and church come on first. Family items go next. Then self-care, working out, counseling, free time. Then I put deep work sessions on the calendar. Generally, these are mornings. Mornings are shown to be the best time to get the important work done.
So, we find time every day to make progress on these things. Then I schedule internal team meetings. And then external meetings can be scheduled around all of those. I also recommend leaving 30 minutes between meetings. It allows you to take notes and do follow up tasks when they are fresh. It also gives you a moment to collect your thoughts before the next meeting.
Lastly, I start my day when I get into the office by using our daily productivity planner. I always have a printed stack on my desk and like writing on them. There’s something about the analog that seems to help my thinking. Better than it does putting it in a computer or writing it on an iPad. It also gives me a place to capture items throughout the day that need to be delegated or go on the to do list.
You can download our daily productivity planner at vitalstrategies.com/planning. Now we’ve given you a system to plan your work from a macro perspective all the way down to your days and weeks. Now let’s flip over to planning your personal life. One of the downloads available to you at vitalstrategies.com/planning is the Vital Success Journal. I want you to start off by creating a vision for your personal life. This might be slightly different than the vision you had for your business life. It’s going to include things like your hobbies, your relationships, the experiences you want to have, the contribution you want to make, your health, that type of thing.
Then we’re going to take a look at our core values. Now the core values may be exactly the same as they were in the business. They might be slightly different. But I want you to go through the exercise again and identify anything that comes up that might apply to your personal life that didn’t apply to your professional life.
Next, I want you to rate yourself 1 to 10 in the following areas. Under Relationships, we’ve got Marriage and Family. I want a separate rating for each of those. Under Experiences, Hobbies and Travel. Under advancement, personal development, professional development. Contribution. There’s three areas, time, skills, abilities, and finances. How are you using those to make society better? And then our health. How’s your physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health? This will give you an opportunity to see where your low points are. You are much better served to take a two, which is in the danger zone, to a five, then you are a five to an eight.
When you look at your lowest areas, pick the three that need the most time and attention. Then complete a goal sheet for these three areas. Once you’re done with the goal sheet, start working on building a process that you can implement for each one of these. Now, we’re going to take the one that you think needs the most work, and I want you to start working on that first.
Systems are going to be more challenging than just setting the goal. But once they are in place, they make the goal more likely and set you up for long term success.
Now let’s take a look at opportunities to build a system for each area of your life that matters. Starting with relationships. If you are married, it is your most important relationship.
It’s more important than your kids, your friendships, your work, your extended family. Because there isn’t another person. that you’re as closely connected to. Your marriage affects nearly all other relationships. If you don’t have a healthy marriage, it’s nearly impossible to have healthy relationships with your kids, family, friends, coworkers.
I’ve got a few recommendations that I think makes a lot of sense. One, I think marriage counseling is great. Find a marriage counselor, go on a regular schedule. That’s the system you could set up. Julie and I have both gone through counseling, both individually and together, and it’s been wonderful for our relationship.
Two, there’s some great books that you can read. John Gottman and Terry Reel have some wonderful relationship books that you should check out. I recommend spending time scheduling it on your calendar where every week you and your wife could talk through another chapter that you’ve read through. And then finally, date night.
My wife and I do date night every week. It used to be the case when our kids were younger, the babysitter just showed up. Every Friday, we just had it scheduled. They knew to show up, we knew to go out on a date. Sometimes the date was coming to the office and just watching a movie. It wasn’t very exciting, but it was just time away as a couple.
Time to refresh, reconnect, talk about life outside of work and kids. Next, family. Father to three kids, three daughters. I think it’s important to invest in those relationships. Find opportunities to do things. Like, I take my daughters on dates. I think that’s important as a father. Set a good example as a man.
So, we go on dates on a regular basis. I also participate in their activities. Whether it’s sports, extracurriculars, church activities, we’re involved in those things. Just create some systems where you’re involved in your kids lives, doing the things that they’re excited about. Not necessarily what you’re excited about. Make those emotional deposits.
Next is experiences. The value of rest can’t be overstated. And we get that through experiences outside of work. Burnout isn’t it. Our experiences give us opportunities to refresh. An example of that is taking a week long vacation with your spouse, leaving your phone and your computer home, and it gives you an opportunity to reconnect with the people you love, see this amazing creation that we live on, and get some real rest.
Now, a couple systems that might help you do this Are having an account set up where every time you get paid dollars automatically go into that account. Automation is the key here. Then you’ll have the dollar set up for when the time comes to book the vacation, the money’s there to do it. It won’t be an excuse.
Next, book the time on your calendar, even if you haven’t paid for the vacation, but don’t let things creep into your schedule that allow you to not be able to get on this this trip with the people you care about. So even if you don’t have all the details sorted out, make sure it’s scheduled so you get that time on the calendar so you can take the vacation.
Now other experiences we like to spend time on or hobbies. I have a number of hobbies. My most unique is probably I love building with Lego. I almost always have a set going in my office. And I’ll work on that when I need a break. Now, if you want to learn how to play guitar, a system you can set up is to find a guitar, buy it, and then find somebody that can give you lessons, pay for three or four months in advance, book the time on your calendar, and just make that a priority.
It’ll be great for your time, energy, mental health, all of those things to just spend the time committing to this hobby. Now, the same could be said for dance classes, cooking classes, or anything else you want to learn and enjoy. The next area, and it ties right into this, is advancement, where we grow and we help the people around us grow.
When you think about personal development. One that I’ve started doing is I’ve stopped listening to music. I don’t listen to music in the car. I gave that up actually years and years ago. I used to have CDs on my Walkman that I plugged into the tape deck. I didn’t even have a tape CD player in my car.
And I would listen to audio books, uh, on those CDs and, uh, it just became my, my way to learn and develop. I bought a number of courses and just consumed it all that way. Now I listen to audio books through audible. I have a subscription every year, reboots, and I get 24 books. I usually resubscribe before the 12 months is up just because, uh, I listened through all my books.
I also listened to a number of podcasts that helped me learn and develop. Now these books aren’t. Entertainment. They’re, they’re things that help me grow. And um, I think the podcasts are exactly the same way. Now I’m a little unusual. I listen to my books and podcasts at two times speed, if not two and a half to three times.
My kids think I’m weird, but that’s okay. I also invest in my professional development by spending money on coaching conferences and seminars, tens of thousands of dollars every year go into this investment. And this goes back to my mindset being the most valuable asset that I have. My suggestion for both your personal and professional development is to set a budget, find the areas you want to improve, and seek out experts in those areas, then make the time in the financial investment.
When it comes to contribution, most of you listening to this podcast can make a tremendous impact through your time. But more likely your skills and financial resources. This is an area where I think focus also really matters. It can be easy to get involved in five different charities or causes you’re excited about, and not really have much of an impact on any of them.
My preference would be, and I’ve just found this in my own life, is to get involved in one charity that you can use your abilities to really move the needle. When it comes time, a system for making financial contributions that you can employ, It’s just take 10% of all your income and give it to your local church.
At the end of the year, we’re not always sure how the profit number is going to shake out. So we’ll make another contribution to make sure that we’re hitting at least that minimum standard of 10% of net income. Now I feel like 10% is the minimum and there aren’t too many places that God calls us to test him, but this is one of those.
And if you believe the scriptures, and even if you don’t, I think the Lord will show his faithfulness that he’ll yield more with 90% than you can hoarding 100%. So it’s a good test to see what altar you’re worshiping at. Next is our health. When we look at our physical health, there’s generally two areas people want to make improvement.
The first is diet, and the second is exercise. There are a few systems to consider around diet. First of all, the self-control happens for me at the grocery store. If we have junk food in our house, I eat it. So, we don’t allow junk food in the house. I’m also very good at meal prepping the meals I’m responsible for.
I eat the same thing every day for lunch. I stop at the grocery store on Monday, grab all my food, and it’s there for me. And it just gives me really healthy outcomes. If you want a pro tip for eating healthy, here it is. If it has a nutrition label, don’t eat it. Your meats, fruits, and vegetables are where it’s at.
And if you really are intent on losing weight, Skip the fad diets and just focus on tracking your macros. There’s some great resources out there on the internet where you can figure out exactly what your macros would be that align with your goals, and it’ll tell you exactly where you need to be every day for what your diet should look like.
Find some accountability around it, find a friend that you can do it with, and you’ll see some real success there.
The next thing to look at is exercise. If I were to build a system around exercise, the data supports that if you work out with somebody, you’re 80% likely to stick with it. If you work out by yourself, there’s a 20% chance you’ll keep showing up.
My suggestion would be, find a friend, sign up for a class that looks like it would be a lot of fun, and go five days a week. It’s amazing how, when you commit yourself, you start seeing the results. And then your diet will also fall into place when you start putting the work in. Next, for your emotional health, there are some great books out there.
I know we’re talking about emotional health, but I’d start with the Bible. The research found when you read your Bible four days a week or more, feeling lonely drops 30%, anger issues drop 32%, bitterness in relationships drops 40%, Alcoholism drops 57% and sex outside of marriage drops 68%. Now, I think all of those things tie back to our emotional health.
So, uh, I think this is a great place to start. I’ve also found a lot of value in Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart. It just does a great job outlining all of the different feelings we can have and what they mean to us. Also, books on mindfulness and meditation have been very good for my mental health as well.
Now, I’ve mentioned this a few times, but I’ll say it again. I think regular counseling sessions are valuable for maintaining mental health. We have coaches for our business, for our golf game. Why not have one for our mental game? I think going to counseling on a regular basis, and I go weekly, I think makes a lot of sense.
I think it makes a lot of sense for most people. And for some reason for guys, there’s this stigma that if we’re going to counseling, there’s something wrong with us. Yes, there probably is some things we need to tune up. That’s okay. Just get over it. I’ve seen some unfortunate outcomes with friends that haven’t addressed their mental health and, I don’t want that to happen to you.
Lastly, our spiritual health, depending on where you land on this one, you may not even believe in God. I’m not asking you to believe anything that I share with you from tax strategy to faith in Jesus. My suggestion is to test the things we talk about here for yourself. If you don’t know about this whole spirituality thing, my suggestion is pray to Jesus, ask him if he’s real.
See if he shows up in your life. Open your Bible, read the book of Luke. I think that’s a great place to start. I have a few spiritual disciplines that have helped me stay spiritually healthy. First, I read the Bible every day. I read through it in a year and I do that every year. I also take time to journal my prayers daily.
It’d be easy for me to skip these activities on busy days, but I find those are the days that I lean into it because if I need a little extra help that day, why not have the wisdom of the creator of the universe on my side? Lastly, I host a weekly men’s group that has been tremendous for my spiritual and emotional health.
Those men are brothers to me and love spending time with them every week. These are all things you can consider implementing. Now, we’ve covered a host of topics today, from creating visions, to core values, to systems and structures for almost every area of our life. I want to remind you that this is a process, and you should spend time working on these things over the course of the next few weeks.
And you’ll continue to revisit them quarter after quarter, year after year, and that’s okay. Use the free resources at vitalstrategies.com/planning as your tools to guide you through the process. So, you can have 2024 be the best year yet. You’ll be in a position to do the hard things that will lead you to a great life.
I’m proud of you. Keep up the good work.
Thank you for listening to the vital strategies podcast for links to the resources mentioned in today’s show, see the show notes at vitalstrategies.com/episode8 , take action today and download all of the free resources we discussed at vitalstrategies.
com/planning. Don’t have another year of mediocre results. These tools will set you on the path to the best year yet. Make sure you listen next week when we have a great discussion with David Barnett. We’re going to look behind the scenes of what it takes to buy and sell a business. This episode will be sure to help you build more wealth so you can live a great life.

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