This is a work-in-progress post about how to make planning fun and in the process more useful for your business by scripting your year. The phrase comes from a conversation this morning with my friend and client Kris Gale, Managing Director of Michael Johnson & Associates. I thank Kris for the phrase “scripting the year” and the thought process it triggered for me – he is not to blame for anything that follows :).

A lesson I learned some years ago from a couple of people, including the motivational and sales speaker Brian Tracy, was to see myself not so much as a solo operator or freelancer, working from home as – to use Tracy’s expression – the President of my own personal service corporation. My first reaction was that this was fanciful (probably not the word I used, but you get the idea). But the concept grew on me. And now it sits very comfortably with me.

Gradually, I found the mindshift confidence-building and empowering. I wasn’t this little guy working from a home office and therefore by definition at the mercy of bigger, more heavily resourced competitors. I was a President and CEO and I could move faster, more nimbly than they, with less baggage. So I started to negotiate better, I recovered faster from setbacks and knockbacks, I faced each new day with increased optimism. If you think that’s pathetic and you don’t buy the “change your thinking, change your circumstances” approach, that’s ok, I thought like that once. But if you tried it you might just find it helps your business.

Anyhow, thinking today about the year ahead, I ticked the box that said Have you done your goals for 2008 yet? Then I realised that I have a diary with a lot of blank spaces, waiting to be filled. Not that I don’t have plenty to do: just that I haven’t mapped out what those things look like as the bones of a script. I have, if you like, an idea of the year ahead and lots of details floating around about how it might play out. I don’t have a script.

That didn’t seem to fit the idea of myself as President/CEO.

Because, if you are the President/chief executive of a major corporation and you look at your diary now, you will surely find that the whole year ahead is pretty well mapped out. There will be scheduled meetings of your board of directors, sessions with your direct reports, meetings with investors and shareholders, various staff related activities where you need to be present, attendance at industry and civic functions, travel to various branch offices and other field trips.

And your executive assistant will have listed your key family events: anniversaries, childrens’ graduation, planned vacations, and so on. There may be times for regular or semi-regular games of golf or other outings with friends.

As this is an Olympic year, you might have a meeting scheduled conveniently for Beijing in August with Chinese companies you do business with or are interested in partnering with. Which will mean that, as for other items in the list, your assistant will have been at work synching your diary with those of all the other people involved in these activities.

In other words, the script for your year has been written.

Olympic logo floral display, Temple of Heaven, Beijing (photo: Suzie Cheel)

So what would my diary look like, I wondered, if I was really thinking like a President/CEO, even of a not so major corporation? As in, President/CEO of my own consulting and coaching business?

It would have a lot more detail than it has right now.

Which means, in a real sense, that I’m waiting for chance, fate, circumstances and other people to write the script for me.

Sobering thought.

To use that corny phrase the motivational coaches use: “when would now be a good time to start working on this?”

OK. So I have started going through my diary to list such items as:

  • regular calls with coaching clients
  • conferences and other events I’m committed to or thinking about attending, such as the Enterprise 2.0 Executive Forum in Sydney in February and BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, September 18-19 (site not updated yet, but plans are in train)
  • I’ve also pencilled in a social media event being discussed for Hawai’i in late March, and
  • (following up on a conversation yesterday morning) I expect to be diarizing some weeks in Bali later in the year (with a memo to myself to make sure I check on the availability of reasonable broadband wherever we plan to stay!).

I’ve also started a list of categories to look at for more details to include in the “script of the movie of my successful year in 2008”. This, as I say, is a work in progress, but the list includes, in no particular order right now:

  • coaching sessions
  • conferences, seminars and trade shows, with any travel implications and cut-off times for registration, including early bird rate cutoffs
  • consultations with strategic partners – virtual, f2f
  • daily blogging time
  • daily time for checking feed readers/ other blogs and commenting
  • daily time for online social network interaction (yes, planned, not just constant distraction 🙂 )
  • daily time for checking emails
  • marketing campaigns
  • networking events
  • market research
  • product development, including production and publication cycles
  • administration including accounts, with deadlines for tax returns etc
  • family commitments including special birthdays, and any travel implications
  • social commitments and any travel implications
  • vacation
  • retreat
  • education, including specific times for studying Avinash Kaushik’s Web Analytics: An Hour a Day (as in, so which hour would that be?)


This is starting to look like work. I can sense already that I’m going to have to deal with a few “been there, done that, got the t-shirt, didn’t work” type negative thoughts arising. But my stronger belief is that, if I do the exercise systematically and as thoroughly as I can, it will pay off in both efficiency and effectiveness.

Let’s be realistic about this: writing your own script for the year doesn’t mean nothing unexpected will happen, or that there won’t need to be adjustments made. It will mean that you have more chance of reaching the goals you set for yourself on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.

So my thought for the day is:

We all have a choice. We can let the coming year happen, or we can write the script.

If you have done this sort of exercise, please share what has worked and what hasn’t. And if you have other categories to add to the list above, I trust you will share those too.

Happy planning!

(Cartoon courtesy of Hugh MacLeod at Gaping Void)

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