Planning: Four Fatal Errors and Four Necessities

By Rich Levin

Most people make resolutions.  Business people and those serious about achieving results make plans.  After working on business plans with entrepreneurs, executives, managers, salespeople, and small business owners for over twenty years there are characteristics of plans that work and plans that fail.

Goals and Measured Results: The fatal error is to fail to set goals. The next most damaging error is to set an annual goal and fail to break it down to monthly results goals and weekly benchmarks. The necessity is to create a system and habit of benchmarking. That is measuring results against goals on a weekly and monthly basis. What gets measured gets done. When a goal is set and not measured toward along the way it becomes nothing more than a wish and a hope. The popular movie and book, “The Secret” treats goals in this way. It is compelling, entertaining, interesting but often does not accomplish desired results. On the other hand measuring progress turns the magic of hope into the realization of the goal.

Skills: Every plan is made to create a result that does not yet exist, create something, achieve something or improve something to new level. To create a result that does not yet exist requires skill that does not yet exist. The fatal error is to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The necessity is to determine the skills required to achieve a new and better result. Then build into the plan the education, and practice to achieve those new and better skills.

Habits: Every successful endeavor is built on good habits. That means doing something the same way over and over. Whether it is a McDonald’s hamburger, a fine steak, or a delicious dessert it is created by following the same recipe over and over. The same is true in sports, art, and business. The fatal error is to fail to build habits that replicate successful results. The necessity, of course, is to create the habits that ensure the results you desire. After the habit is created, to monitor the results of the habit. Tweak the process of the habit to continually improve results. While, at the same time, being extremely consistent with the habit.

Attitude: The fatal error here is treating attitude like something that happens to a person; believing that you are subject to your attitude versus in control of your attitude. So often, I find people waiting for motivation instead of understanding how to motivate themselves. The necessity is to learn and improve the ability to shift attitude in the moment. Then you know that you have the ability to control your attitude and that may be the most powerful knowledge and habit of all.

Think of winners you know or the things that you win at. Maybe you are overweight or out of shape but you are successful in your business or another endeavor. Perhaps you are struggling with your career or your finances but you are a great cook, parent, or in some other role in your life. Examine the place or places that you or people you know win. You will find the following.

They know what they want in that area and they know whether they are achieving it along the way. That is goals and measured results.

They are very skilled in that area.  They are interested in the strength of that skill. They are always thinking of ways to keep it strong and make it stronger. That is skills.

They have built habits around the area in which they win. They do things on the same days, at the same times, in the same places, and in the same ways. That is habits.

They control their attitude in that area.  Their focus, self talk, and physical demeanor make them feel good while they are at it. If something interferes with that feeling; they easily refocus, regain their physical composure and talk themselves back into the enjoyment or accomplishment. That is attitude.

As I begin to coach a Real Estate Agent, Broker, business owner, or entrepreneur I do a careful analysis of the person in these four areas. It is this analysis that establishes the format of our work together. As the relationship develops, the Client and I together identify the area that will make the most significant difference with the greatest ease. We use goals to determine needed skills. We identify, create, instill and refine habits that ensure consistent results. I am continuously monitoring attitude to discover if and when the Client’s beliefs may be limiting the Clients growth and success.

Life is very exciting when you know how to live it. These four fatal errors and necessities of successful planning are the same substance that lead to and create successful living.

Plan to live fully, happily, successfully.  Plan to make 2012 the best year of your career and your life.

Rich Levin is a results coach who works with Real Estate Professionals and business owners to achieve levels of success that previously seemed out of their reach. He speaks to audiences and coaches individuals across North America. You can experience a taste of his work on his daily webinar for Real Estate Professionals.  Register at  You can reach him at 585-244-2700 or

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