Superhuman September Part 2: Your 5×5 Plan

croppedWelcome back!

I want to start this blog post by addressing something:

I know it might feel like the world is spiraling further and further into turmoil right now.

Between storms, political motions here in the U.S. turning the clock backwards on equality and our understanding of our shared humanity, and dark clouds of conflict overhead, it can be hard to focus on life — namely, your life, your dreams, and your future.

It is so easy to feel locked down by our grief, and shrink with our fear. But this, my wonderful readers, is our time to rise up.

Yes, we must take time to be mindful to connect with each other, and to pray. However, what is most important is that we take action — for ourselves, and the state of the world.

If you’re feeling called to take action about the devastation from Harvey or Irma, here are a few ways to help:

Lists of reputable resources to help those affected by Hurricane Irma are still being organized, but this list from Refinery29 may point you in the right direction so you can choose the effort(s) that feel best for you.

I also invite you to revisit this list of action steps to counter the heightened tensions raised in the United States after Charlottesville.

Through it all, I encourage you to take care of yourself.

It can be tempting to retreat into ourselves in times like these, but we must keep moving toward the future we want to create for ourselves, our businesses, and the planet.

I will be striving to do the same — and I hope you will join me.
Which brings us to today’s post…

September has officially begun — which means it’s time for the second round of the Superhuman September series.

If you didn’t check it out last week, I reviewed some ways you can turn the start of September into your second “New Year”. That means if you had some of your New Year’s Resolutions slip, or get lost in the busyness of life? This is your chance to regroup, refocus, and get yourself (and your business!) back on track.

I always love to look at September as my new January, and one of my favorite things to do this time of year is set big, beautiful new goals for the quarter, and the end of the year.

What’s my #1 way to do that? With what I call my 5×5 plan.

Keep in mind — while this process is for 5 “big picture” goals, if you decide you want to focus on fewer big milestones (like 2 or 3 goals) then you can shape this process to suit your needs.

It’s my absolute favorite business planning tool, and a technique I teach to all my students in The Conquer Club.

Here we go!

Step 1: Set 5 big picture goals.

(You can select fewer goals if you have very specific focuses for the end of the year. But choose no more than 5 goals!)

When I say “big picture” I mean big! Bigger than building up your Facebook following, or making a certain amount of money.

Turn your attention to your ideal future and passions. What does your perfect work day look like, and which goals could help you get there? What do you love doing? What ideas and causes light you up?

Asking yourself those questions is the key to ideas and causes worth pursuing.

Need some examples? Here are a few ideas:

I’ll finally write a book proposal; I’ll improve my iPhone photography for a more appealing Instagram; I’ll hire a virtual assistant and hand off some of my day-to-day tasks; I’ll create content upgrades for my blog posts and grow my list.

Step 2: Once you have your goals, break them down into 5 smaller steps.

Having a clear “big picture” is all well and good, but you want to make sure they feel doable, or you’ll lose momentum!

You’re much more likely to stay centered and motivated if those big, audacious goals are broken down into little steps.

Here’s what I mean:

Instead of writing “redesign website” on your calendar, break it down into steps like: Create a Pinterest board of websites and design elements I like, or Find out who designed my favorite websites, or Check out pricing and availability of those designers. You get the idea!

Step 3: Add those 5 small steps to your calendar.

Don’t skip this part!

Now you’ve got your fantastic, momentum-maintaining baby steps, write them down somewhere you can’t miss them.

Pop them into your Google calendar with reminders, set alarms on your phone on specific dates, use a Trello account to track your progress, print out a checklist and hang it by your computer so you’ll see it every day and be reminded of what’s coming up.

(It’s also so satisfying to cross items off your list when they’ve been on your radar for a while!)

Step 4: Pair your baby steps with a visual reminder.

Let’s be real with ourselves here: Most of us need more motivation than a Google calendar reminder.

So I encourage you to create a mini vision board for each goal, or print out images and words that will help you envision what your life will look like when you reach this goal.

Is your name at the top of the New York Times Bestseller list? Are you relaxing by your pool because you made your first million? Are you working from a café in gorgeous Paris because your business has taken off, and you can live the digital nomad life?

A combination of baby steps + visual inspiration will make you unstoppable.

Step 5: Create your own 5×5 plan.

Now you’ve got your steps, it’s time to get moving!

Here’s a video to help you round out the process:

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I hang my 5×5 plan near my desk so every single day so I’m reminded of the 25 milestones I’m working towards. It’s also a great way to ground myself along the way.

If a “shiny object” (like a new opportunity or idea arrives), I reference my 5×5 plan to see if it makes sense with my schedule, or if I should table it for my next 5×5 round.

And that’s it!

Now, before I go, I’d love to hear about some goals you have for the next year.

If you can, break them down into 5 steps right here in the comments so I can cheer you along!

There’s so much greatness ahead for you. I can’t wait to witness it.

Natalie MacNeil's Signature


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