Episode 043 – Make Achieving Your Yearly Consulting Plan Inevitable

Setting yearly goals isn’t always exciting. Setting goals can feel overwhelming and daunting. There’s one major adjustment that you can make to your planning process to create the feeling of inevitability for yourself and your business.

In this episode, I share the process to get clear on the action plan for your consulting business this year, to make achieving your goals inevitable.

This is part three of a three-part series.

  1. In step one (episode 041), we completed an impactful year-end review. If you haven’t yet listened to that episode, you can go back after listening to this episode by clicking here
  2. In step two (episode 042), we focused on creating your independent consulting business vision. If you haven’t yet listened to that episode, you can go back after listening to this episode by clicking here
  3. This week, we’re closing out this series with step three, transforming your consulting business year-end assessment and your consulting business vision into an actionable plan so that you know exactly what to focus on and where you’re headed in these next 12 months.  

To help you pull everything together, download your Yearly Business Plan Workbook for Independent Consultants at https://www.melisaliberman.com/plan

Then tune in as I share exactly how you can make achieving your year-end plan inevitable: 

  • [05:25 The three components of your yearly plan
  • [12:30] A simple three-step process to create your plan
  • [16:30] The common mistakes to avoid
  • [18:58] How to put this process into action in your business


Ready for help figuring out how to leverage these strategies in your IC business and ultimately double your revenue without working more? 

  • I invite you to book an IC Success Blueprint call with me.
  • On this call, we’ll dive into your business and get clear on your goals and challenges and determine an action plan for you so that you can create the business impact, income, and flexibility that you desire. 
  • To get on my calendar, please visit https://www.melisaliberman.com/ic-blueprint.


  • Click here to access my Independent Consultant’s Toolkit


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**note: this is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. I’m Melisa Liberman, a fellow IC and business coach. On this podcast, I teach you to become a consistently booked independent consultant without becoming a pushy salesperson or working 24/7. If I can do it, you can too. Listen on to find out how.


If you are listening to this episode, in real-time, I just want to say Happy New Year. I’m so excited to share with you today, part three, in the three-part process we’ve been working on for you to plan your yearly business goals. So if you haven’t yet, caught the last couple of episodes, we talked about how to conduct an effective year and review process and episode 41. And then in Episode 42, we talked about how to set your really clear business vision so you know the big picture of where you’re wanting to head. And now in this part three, we’re going to talk about this third and final step for you to make achieving your yearly plan inevitable. So I’m going to walk you through the process to pull all of this together to put it into an actionable plan. So you know exactly what it is that you’re going to be focusing on, and where you’re headed in these next 12 months. So that is our focus today is for you to walk away with an action plan. So if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend you go to Melissa lieberman.com, forward slash plan, and register to get the workbook that I’ve created that goes along with these three episodes, it will walk you through most of everything I’m going to go through verbally today, you’ve got all the questions that you want to ask and answer and all three parts of this three-part process. So go grab that for yourself so that you can put this episode into action. You know, I was telling you this last week that this can be such a favorite time of year, right from a lot of us, it feels like a fresh start. If you’re listening in the real-time, there’s kind of this new hope, hopefully, maybe things start to get back to some form of normal, or whatever normal will be as COVID kind of becomes more of a process that we’re all used to. And we can start living our lives more consistently. Again, that’s what an example of what the New Year is bringing right, it can be a time to have that fresh start and that restart of plans. But sometimes that can backfire on us, it can feel like we’re starting over in a way, and it can feel really daunting. And so for me, for example, looking at my revenue, for example, starting back at zero again, feels incredibly daunting. So, if that’s the same thing for you, where you’re starting this idea of starting things over in January, creates a feeling of a huge mountain to climb, I’ll share with you here in a little bit, a major adjustment that I’ve made for myself in my business and helped a few other clients make that has shifted from this feeling of daunted pneus and uphill battle and starting over into a feeling of inevitability for myself and my business. So I’ll tell you what that shift was as I lay out this business planning process for you because I think it will really help you as well. So that’s what we’re focused on today, creating an action plan as the third step of your yearly business planning process. Before we start, I just want to remind you to go grab that workbook. So you can put all of this into action. The link is in the show notes. And also don’t forget to go book, your icy success blueprint call. It’s a call where we really dive into you and your business and put this work that we’ve been doing on the podcast together into action. So you know exactly what it is that you need to be focused on this year. And so you can put all the other things that are nagging at you to the side, and really laser focus on what’s going to move the needle in your business. So it’s just as much about what you will focus on and what’s the biggest will make the biggest difference for you and identifying that uncovering the obstacles that may stand in your ways you can address them proactively and then also putting all that noise into the parking lot so it doesn’t constantly distract you and cause you to feel that overwhelm. Okay, so with that let’s dive into today’s topic which is making your yearly Plan inevitable. So first, we’re going to talk about what the three components of your yearly plan are. And then I’m going to give you a simple three-step process to create your plan. I’m going to point out the common mistakes that I see independent consultant business owners making, so you can avoid those. And then lastly, we’ll put this into action for you in your business. So that is our agenda for today. So the first thing we want to do is pull together your yearly plan. And what we’re going to pull together is essentially the lessons learned from the past 12 months. That was episode 41. So you can go back and listen to that. And or you can use the workbook that walks you through all of the steps about getting those lessons learned and doing that year-end assessment in a really productive, effective, non-judgmental way. So that ultimately, you can identify what you want to start and what you want to stop, what you want to amplify and what successes that you want to build on from this past year. The second component of your yearly plan is your business vision. And that’s what we talked about in episode 42. Again, you can go back and listen to that. And or you can download the workbook and answer all the questions and get really clear on what your business vision is, and where you want your business to be in the next three to five years. So that we have a target against which we’re headed. And now today, we’re going to put an action plan in place. And so that’s the third component of really breaking down your business vision, pulling in the lessons learned, and making this a more granular plan for the next quarter, and the next 12 months that you can start executing against. And that’s what we’re focused on with this particular episode is the third leg of that stool, we’ll take the lessons learned and the assessment that you did, and your year-end review, which is the or as his states if we think about it in those terms, and then we’re going to take your business vision, which is the to be states. And then now we’re going to dive in to create an action plan for you to get from the as-is to the to be in an incremental non-overwhelming way. So don’t forget, go download that workbook. And I’m going to share with you a lot of questions right now that you’re going to want to be thinking about, and they’re all in that workbook. So the first thing you want to do as you’re building out this action plan for yourself, and this is for the next 12 months, and then it will even bring it down smaller into the next, you know, the next quarter, even the next month. And then the week, what does my routine look like? But as we think about the next 12 months from your business vision, where do you want to focus for these next 12 months? Ask yourself from that vision? What is the next thing that I want to tackle to get from where I am to where I want to be? And why did I choose that? What I not choose and why? And really getting clear on your reasons without a judgmental perspective, but just to really know what’s driving you. Because if it’s something that is really truly the next best step for you and your business, versus potentially it’s something that you’re choosing something because you’re avoiding something else, or you’re choosing something because of your ego, whatever it is just get really honest with yourself no judgement, right? Just really getting honest with yourself about why you chose to focus on something that you did. Did you choose something that would be a needle mover? Or did you choose something that feels the easiest? For example, do you know that lead generation is the most important thing that you need to be working on right now. But you decided to work on your focus area, maybe your website or your business cards or something, you know, that you can work on behind the scenes that doesn’t require you to put yourself out there. Look at that, and ask yourself, what did I choose to focus on in the next 12 months to get to my business vision? And why and what might I be avoiding? The next step of this is to really describe your focus area, whatever you chose to focus on in the next 12 months as if it’s already done. How do you know it’s done? How does it feel to you to have it done? How are you thinking about that focus area? How are you thinking about yourself? And from there, this gives us a lot of really good inputs for you to create a sentence for yourself. This is my goal sentence. This is the sentence I can repeat to myself over and over again to remind myself what I’m working on for the next 12 months. An example would be I’m focused on creating a pipeline of clients who can’t wait to work with me who seek me out. That sentence is so rich, right? It’s not about you cold calling people it’s about you’re creating a goal of clients seeking you out for example, whatever your goal might be, I love ending the goal sentence with something like This will happen no matter what I got this from a book by how Elrod, he wrote The Miracle Morning and the miracle equation. And that is part of his miracle equation, he would say, I’m committed to creating a repeatable lead generation process where clients seek me out for the work that I do. And I’ve consistently got 10 of them in my pipeline, whatever it might be for you. And I’m going to make this happen, no matter what I’m paraphrasing his process a little bit, I’ll put the link to his miracle equation as well. So, you can see the exact version. But it helps a lot because it helps you reinforce for yourself through this goal sentence of I am committed to making this happen no matter what not going to get it on the first try, you’re not going to go from for example, if we’re going to keep the lead generation example, you’re not going to go from no pipeline to a robust overfilling pipeline in two weeks, most likely, there are ways to do that. But, you know, generally speaking, that’s not going to happen, it’s going to require some failure, it’s going to require some false starts. And over time, you’re committed to making it happen no matter what, there is no alternative. And then ask yourself another way to just keep this reinforced in your brain of what your 12-month focuses is choosing a word, I love this idea of like a one-word theme for the Year present or committed or certain, or valuable, whatever it is for you about who you are becoming who you need to become in order to reach that goal. Again, these are ways for you to figure out what your focus area is, and keep it top of mind in a really simplistic way, by creating a sentence and a word for yourself to remind yourself over and over again of where your priority is. And it could be that this priority is really only for the first quarter, and then you switch it out in the second quarter. It doesn’t have to be for all 12 months. But you get the idea of how this yearly planning process works through the examples that I’ve been using. Okay, so now that you know what your focus area is, you’ve taken your lessons learned and your year-end assessment. You’ve looked at your business vision, and you’ve picked your focus area for the next year, or perhaps the next quarter, whatever that increment is for you. And you’re going to want to do four things, four steps to finalize this yearly business plan this yearly plan for yourself. The first step is to ask yourself for that focus area. What are your strategies to reach your yearly goals? What are the strategies that you need to put in place? What are the action items? What are the things you need to learn? It’s basically just a huge to-do list of all of the different things that you might need to test or learn or hire experts for? Or, you know, carve out time for that kind of thing? What are your strategies to reach that yearly focus. Another great way to do this is to look at it from each role you play. So as a CFO, as a CMO, as the CEO, as the consultant slash employee, what are all the strategies that I need to implement? And thinking about it from those different perspectives can help you make a much more robust plan for yourself? So that’s step one. Step two, then is asking yourself, where are my obstacles? What are the obstacles? So for example, what has prevented me from accomplishing this already? So we’re looking at why haven’t I already done it? That’s a great way to find the obstacles. Another line of questioning is about what you’re going to face? Like where could I self-sabotage myself? Where might I limit myself? What’s going to get in the way as I implement this, most of the time, I’ll give you a clue here most of the time, these are things that we are thinking that we’ve got to overcome, we’re in our own way, and in other words, versus an obstacle of something external to ourselves. So that’s the second step of the process is brainstorming all of those obstacles. When you think you’ve got the full list, force yourself to do five more, usually the gold is in kind of those last few that you that you’re able to come up with and really push your brain beyond where it’s used to thinking. And then the next step of the four steps is to so on step three. Now, first, we listed out and brainstormed all the strategies that we listed out and brainstormed all the obstacles that we anticipate facing or already facing that we need to overcome. The next step of the process is to create all of the strategies and action items that you’ll need to do in order to overcome those obstacles. So you’ve got really two lists of strategies. You’ve got these strategies you came up with initially. And then you’ve got all of the strategies, which are action items and to dues and mindset work, things you need to research to overcome the obstacles. And then you’ll consolidate those two things into a master to-do list into a complete to-do list that has everything on it, you’ll prioritize it and put it in sequential order. So that’s essentially the process of figuring out what your plan of attack is to accomplish your focus area. And then finally, you’re going to put these things into your calendar. So you’ve got your prioritized sequential action plan, and you’re going to want to put that into your calendar. What I love doing is just kind of bucketing it out by week. And then when the week comes, when I start planning for my week, I literally just drag it in slotted into, you know, wherever it fits on my calendar, during the course of that week, maybe it’s Monday, I spend most of Monday working on my business. So I try to front load a lot of things in there. Maybe for you, that’s Friday, whatever it is, put it in the calendar, so you have the time set aside to do this work. Otherwise, the day to day gets in the way, and you haven’t carved out the time to work on this focus area, it’s so important to put it in the calendar. And to have a routine that helps you get it into your calendar so that you don’t let these things slide. And you move forward and progress toward this goal and ultimately toward the big vision. Okay, so now that you know the process, let’s talk about the common mistakes, there are two big ones. So number one is not making the plan is feels daunting, so you avoid it. And number two is not following through with the plan you made. So you create this gorgeous plan. I’ve done this before, create this gorgeous plan. And literally, you feel so good. So accomplished, check it off the list. And somehow we think it’s going to happen by osmosis. And it doesn’t. So really making sure that you follow through with the plan that you’ve invested the time to make. And that’s it really, I mean, those are pretty simple, right? You either didn’t make the plan, or you made the plan, and you didn’t follow through. So you’ve got to really understand for yourself if you’re resisting making the plan. Why that is I shared with you some of the reasons why that might be in the last episode about the big visions, you can go dive into those in more detail. But the cliff notes is that we avoid making a plan because it makes us feel bad. In this case, it could be overwhelming, right? I’m creating this big plan for the next year; it feels so overwhelming of how much I need to get done. And I feel like I don’t have enough time. And so then, as a result, you just don’t even want to make a plan, right? That’s a very common example. So if you know that you’re avoiding making the plan, because you know, it’s going to make you feel overwhelmed, then break it down into little chunks if you need to. But know that it’s your brain’s way of negotiating to try to get out of this task, just like a toddler negotiates to try to get out of timeout, whatever it is, know that your brains gonna want to do that. And make the commitment to yourself to do it anyway. And then make the commitment to yourself that you’re not going to want to follow through your brain is going to negotiate with you that you don’t have enough time your brain is going to want to negotiate with you that you’ve created this plan. But it’s not possible to do everything. Or maybe it was a bad plan to begin with. Because we don’t want to put ourselves out of our comfort zone and out of the status quo. Make an agreement with yourself that you know that it’s going to feel bad, it’s going to feel uncomfortable, and hard and maybe scary. But you’re going to do it anyway. make that commitment with yourself so that you can implement this yearly plan and move your business forward. So that your make more impact so that you make more income so that you have more independence in your business and your schedule. So that brings me to I told you that I was resisting this myself feeling really daunting, like, oh, no, I’m starting back at zero again. I used to love starting at zero from a revenue perspective and, and working my way to whatever the goal was that I had set for the year for a revenue perspective. This year. For some reason, it didn’t feel so exciting to me, it felt instead very daunting. It felt like oh, I’m starting over to zero again, this is terrible. And so as I started recognizing this and noticing my avoidance and my resistance and the self negotiation that was going on, it’s something came to me and I made this simple shift that has changed everything for me. And the simple shift was I decided to look at my business as rolling 12 months. So in January, I’m not starting over again. In January, I have just 1/12 of a revenue goal. I mean, the calendars made up anyway, right? There’s no reason we should start over in January if it’s not serving us It used to serve me, it used to really motivate me to think about recreating and building upon what I had and growing what I had created the year before. When I started noticing this year, I felt daunting, that’s when I realized I needed to make a shift might not work forever, I might want to go back to starting at zero in January. But for this year, for sure, I know that treating my business as a rolling 12-month process, just that shift in thinking about my business, eliminates the overwhelm eliminates the daunting feeling that I have. And gets me into the mindset of what does January look like as a month as a rolling 12 months and thinking about my revenue goals, and my schedule goals in that perspective. So that might help you as you’re implementing this, or you might not need to shift your mindset in a different way. But definitely look at the way that you’re thinking about the yearly planning, and don’t let overwhelm or fear or any of those negative emotions keep you stuck and avoiding doing this yearly planning process. So those are my tips for you about how to implement a complete yearly process for your independent consulting business, I want to make sure and re-emphasize for you to create this as a standard operating procedure in your business. Through these last three episodes, I’ve given you really strong operating procedures for year-end review assessments, which you can use monthly, quarterly, weekly, however you want to use it as a standard operating procedure, I gave you a process to set and refresh your business vision. So you have the big picture about where it is you want your business to go. And today, I gave you the process to pull that together and look at it from an as is state A to B states and create the action plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be by choosing a focus area. And creating a plan around that. The important thing that most people don’t include when they think about that type of planning process is the idea that I’m going to face obstacles and really plan ahead for those and thinking about them in a holistic way. It’s not just obstacles, like it’s difficult to find the time in the day or the week. It’s not just logistical or those types of obstacles, it’s also what’s in our head, and the talk track that’s happening. And diving into those obstacles so that you identify them, you know, they’re going to happen, you can mitigate against them as best you can. You can you can work around them. But it also helps you to see that you’re going to face obstacles, whatever they are. And that’s a normal part of the process. Nothing has gone wrong if you if you fail, the first time you try at this focus area, or the first part of the process that you’ve defined for yourself, there’s nothing wrong, this is iterative. This is kind of like the scientific method, you have a hypothesis, you have an idea of how you’re going to get there, you’ve got to go implement it and test it out and see if that’s actually how it’s going to work. Or if you need to pivot or adjust. That’s the key here. And it’s a nuance that most of the time when we set those things like smart goals, we don’t get to that nuance. And it’s so important as a tool for you to make reaching your goals inevitable. The other tool that’s so important to make your goals inevitable is that you put this work in the calendar, you spend the time it doesn’t just happen when you have leftover time, no one has leftover time. It doesn’t just happen through osmosis, because you wrote the plan down, you have to carve out the time to make this focus area advance forward. And for you to grow upon what it is that you’ve already accomplished. So that you can reach that big vision. And at some point, you look at the big vision and it seems like a little vision, because you’ve accomplished all of it or most of it. And you can then set another big vision for yourself. It’s such a fun process. So go put this into action for yourself. Go download that PDF, the yearly planning process PDF, it’ll be the standard operating procedure for you out of the box, you’ll have to do very little to it. And you’ll have a standard operating procedure in place for you and your business. So we’ll put the link in the show notes. But it’s Melissa Lieberman comm forward slash plan and if you are listening to this in the real time, so I want to say Happy New Year. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish over the next 12 months. And I want to leave you with encouragement to go book yourself and I see success blueprints. Give yourself that gift for New Years. Go give yourself that gift of a successful loose print session with me so that we can really dive into your business. We can do this work together real time I can challenge you, I can ask you questions that you might not ask yourself, and you can create a really solid plan for you to move forward in these next 12 months.


All right, we’ll see you again next week. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for joining me this week on the Grow Your Independent Consulting Business podcast. If you liked today’s episode, I have three quick next steps for you. First, click subscribe on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to make sure you don’t miss future episodes. Next, leave me a review in your podcast app so other independent consultants can find it benefit too. And finally, to put the ideas from today’s episode into action, head over to Melisaliberman.com for the show notes and more resources to help you grow your consulting practice from your first few projects into a full-fledged business. See you next week.

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