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A Plan Without a Deadline Isn’t Really a Plan

I make plans. Big plans.

I’ve got an Evernote folder full of ideas. Originally, that folder was called “plans.” I’ve changed it now.

Now, it’s called “Someday/Maybe.”

I made the change when I realized that many of my “plans” had been sitting in that folder for many months. In fact, some of the big plans in that folder had been there for years.

A plan without a deadline isn’t really a plan. It’s an interesting idea—maybe. But until you give it a deadline, it’s not going anywhere (except that big folder).

I spent an afternoon on the phone with a coaching client a few weeks ago. We came up with an amazing plan for growing her practice. She already does $1.5 million a year. We’re working on doubling that revenue. We detailed, step-by-step, the actions she needs to take to build the infrastructure to support the new clients, and we pulled together a marketing plan for taking the revenues on up.

Then we turned to scheduling the plan. I wanted to put a date next to each step of the plan. I wanted her to commit to getting the job done in 24 months.

She wasn’t so sure.

When I pushed on a date for the first step, she explained that she had some messes to clean up first. She needs to get her house in better order before she starts, she explained.

I kept bringing the conversation back to setting dates, and I kept getting resistance. At some point, I realized these plans aren’t ever going to get implemented.

You’ve got some things you’d like to change. You’ve got a plan. Are there dates associated with the tasks? If not, your plan really isn’t a plan.

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Lee Rosen

Lee Rosen has practiced family law for more than twenty years. With four offices, Rosen Law Firm serves Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Rosen served as the Law Practice Management Editor of the ABA Family Advocate for more than a decade and received the ABA James Keane Award for excellence in eLawyering. He served as Chair of the Law Practice Management Section of the North Carolina Bar Association, is a frequent speaker and is often sought out by the media as a source of family law insight and commentary.