>How would you answer these questions? Where do you see your life in five years? What specifically do you do and how can you benefit your clients? What makes you different from your competitors? What do you want to accomplish in 2010? How will you know if you were successful? and the list goes on!

If you want to be successful at sales you must have a plan. You need to know where you are going, why you want to go there and how you plan to arrive at your destination. Years ago, I was in yoga class and our teacher was helping us with a new balance pose. It was very hard to do. Mid-way through our exercise she had us all stop, relax and then slowly go back into the pose. This time she told us only to focus on what we were doing well and to put out of our mind how awkward, uncomfortable or out of balance we felt. She told us what we focus on expands.

That statement was so powerful for me, as it was so true and I could relate it to every piece of my life. That day, I observed myself in that yoga pose and watched as my pose got stronger, my balance more solid and my form more aligned. The more I focused and knew what I wanted, the more of that I got!

The same is true for business. You need a focus. There are several ways to design a plan and several strategic planning processes. It is important that you find process that works best for you. For me, that is systems thinking strategic planning. A holistic approach, that ensures you view each part of your business and plan as connected and impacting one another. Regardless of the style you choose, you need to set aside some time to develop your plan. Here are some tips and ideas for making this time productive and successful.

Annually, block two days for a personal business retreat. Yes, there is a chance you can do this in one, but I find blocking two ensures I have made the full commitment to complete this critical job. Sit down and ask yourself these five questions:
1. Where do I want to be or what do I want? (Vision, Mission, Core Values, Goals)
2. What will it look like when I get there? (Key Success Measures)
3. What is my current state? (SWOT Analysis)
4. What are my gaps from current state to desired state? (Key Actions Steps and Behaviors)
5. What is going on in my external environment that could impact my plan? (in the community, market, my client base, competition)

Post your vision, mission and core values somewhere prominent, so you read them everyday. You want to internalize and live this. If you want to achieve it, you need to see it.

Each month review your actions and behaviors. What actions are producing desired results, which are not and what do you need to change going forward?

Lastly, set aside time each quarter to review your whole plan. Again, what is going well, what is not and does anything need to change?

Planning for success is a critical step in not only working smarter and more efficiently, but in building your confidence and your motivation to achieve your dreams. Plan for success and you will achieve it.