Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a single young professional or a parent in a dual income family, people often have one thing in common: anxiety about how to create a financial plan to reach their goals. Last week, I shared the first two steps of planning for financial success in business and in life. We begin by clearly defining our purpose and then creating positive cash flow.
Picking up from where we left off in part 1 of this discussion, here are the final two steps:
Step 3: Take action
A plan is only valuable if it’s put into action, so once you’re clear on what you want and how you will align your spending with your goals it’s time to get moving. In business, this means landing clients, executing on projects, or developing and marketing new products. In life, it could be meeting with a real estate agent, researching a country you want to travel to, or opening an investment account.
You have your notes from step 1 and step 2, and now it’s time to turn those goals and spending plans into action steps. This step is often where people get stuck, as it requires that you explore outside your comfort zone by doing things differently than you’re used to.
When you venture into the unfamiliar, your subconscious mind gets scared and plays tricks on you to keep you safe within the boundaries of what you already know; tricks like procrastination, negative thinking and self-sabotage, which stop the flow of positive energy and momentum that you need to successfully reach your goals.
This is often when people want my help as a coach and accountability partner. I help you cut through the noise of all the possible actions you could take and figure out what specific next steps will make the most impact for you. When your self-doubt kicks in, I’m there to talk through the worry, cheer you on and remind you of how amazing and capable you are!
Step 4: Review and adjust
When you start taking action against your plan it’s inevitable that things will not go as you expected. That’s not failure – that’s life! And that’s also why this last step is so important. Regular check-ins to review your progress and adjust your plan give you the opportunity to learn from the unexpected and re-align yourself with your goals so that you stay on course. I recommend three levels of review.
First, the weekly review. Set aside up to an hour each week track your income and expenses in with bookkeeping or budgeting software or a notebook. You’re probably thinking, “Ugh, I don’t have time for that!” but in fact, you don’t have time not to. If you don’t pay attention to your cash flow, you won’t be sure it’s doing what you want it to do… and that puts your goals at risk.
The more often you do this tracking, the more efficient you’ll become and the less time you’ll need to do it. You might even find you enjoy it! I actually set aside time every week for a “Money Date” to keep me accountable to my business and personal goals. If it doesn’t happen, I’m not too hard on myself, but I keep myself honest with this regular check-in.
Next, the quarterly review. Every three months, check back in with the goals you set for yourself. How is your progress going? Are you on track to meet your goals, or do you now have new information that you can feed in to your plan?
Last is the annual review. This is the time to look back on the year overall, reflect on the lessons learned, celebrate your accomplishments, and review your vision and mission statement to make sure they still feel authentic to you or your business.
These four steps are simple, but they’re not always easy. I’m happy to help you work through this process. Take a look at my services to get started on your plan for financial success today.
If you’re tackling this yourself, where are you struggling in the planning process? Let me know in the comments below!
Lisa Zamparo is a financial strategist and lifestyle optimist, as well as a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), business coach and personal finance expert in Toronto who helps people make intentional decisions with their money. As a one-on- one coach, her personalized approach to financial planning helps her clients achieve their goals by aligning their spending with their priorities. As an inspirational educator, Lisa leads workshops that infuse mindfulness principles with financial concepts delivered in a fun and approachable style.