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Don’t just ‘Retreat,’ PLAN

Don’t just ‘Retreat,’ PLAN

For the past three days we at Say Leadership Coaching have been on a retreat. ‘Retreat’ is what most businesses traditionally call it, but I don’t care for the word with its’ backpedaling imagery and cowering connotations. I much prefer our Hawaiian one, Ho‘olālā, meaning to ‘make plans.’ To make plans is to prepare for moving forward in the best possible way.

December is our time for Ho‘olālā for the pure seasonal rightness of it. With the New Year arriving in mere weeks, those inevitable resolutions take shape so much more naturally when the ‘business retreat process’ has happened first. When the Ho‘olālā process is good, those New Year’s resolutions become the right resolutions, and the plans to execute them are smart plans.

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I am one of the most deliberative planners you’ll meet, for I believe in the process of planning for the success you strive for, and then plotting the step by step “action traction” which will propel you ever forward. Plans without specific, bold actions are worthless. When Ho‘olālā is held as a planning retreat, everyone walks away from it ready to take on the world; they know exactly what they will do next. They’ve created new energy and achieved synergy in the process, and they strongly believe that when their individual action steps combine they will be a force to be reckoned with. They are a positive force capable of creating a better future both for the company and for themselves. They’re feeling brave and confident.

So what is this Ho‘olālā , this Business Planning process?

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Much of it involves managerial concepts you’ve read from me before, in separate articles here for Lifehack.org. Business Planning should be when you actually use things like Vision, Values, and Mission – they aren’t things which someone made pretty sentences for in framed art on the walls. In Ho‘olālā they line up and are used like this:

  1. First we recommit to a very specific Vision, so everyone is clear on the ultimate objective we are planning FOR. In Ho‘olālā we are only aiming for the immediacy of the coming year.
  2. Second we revisit our Values. We talk about those values which center our company, serving as our very reliable constancy no matter how much change swirls around us.
  3. Third we tackle Mission, when and ONLY when our Vision and our Values are in crystal clear, integrity balanced alignment. Mission is a collection of key initiatives; they are the sub-projects we’ll dedicate our focused effort toward in the year to come, specifically chosen because they will cause our Vision to happen.
  4. Fourth, the Action Traction. Each one of those sub-projects we collectively call Mission are broken down into their first individual action steps, and those actions are assigned and calendared.
  5. Fifth, each person writes their Ho‘ohana, which is a personal and professional individual mission statement connecting their goals to the Vision of the company. Companies aren’t great unless the people within them become great.

You can find more detail on each of these steps on www.managingwithaloha.com today, in Ho‘olālā: The Business Planning Process.

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We work hard during Ho‘olālā; they are not the retreats held during other times of the year where it is mostly team-building, camaraderie and fun. Those things are important too, but they have another time and place. The right people are chosen for Ho‘olālā; they are already a well-functioning team, one which is deeply committed to each other and unconditionally supportive of each other. During Ho‘olālā they celebrate their brilliance, and their passion for the focused work it takes to create lasting legacies.

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Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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