Now that you have set long term goals and short term goals, you have to make a game plan or plan of action so that you can accomplish these goals. Depending on the goals set, they plan may be simple or it may be very complicated. I find that the simpler the plan is the more likely it will be to succeed. Anything that has a lot of moving parts tends to break down a lot easier, the same is true of plans. There is a old acronym KISS or “Keep It Simple Stupid”. It is popular because it is accurate.
What do the eight percent who succeed understand that the rest of us (apparently) don’t? They’ve learned that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
The benefits of planning
Creating a plan may seem like an inconvenience when you want your journey to a better life to begin now. But traversing new territory is easier when you have a map—whether that’s taking a vacation, earning a promotion, or starting a new business.
Here are four specific benefits of planning:
- Improved productivity. When you know how to get from one place to another, you’re less likely to suffer from “paralysis by analysis.” Planning prevents you from wasting your energy on unnecessary tasks and, as author Brian Tracy says, “every minute spent in planning saves as many as ten minutes in execution.”
- Increased focus. Planning helps you focus on the task at hand—you know what you need to do today, and why. This helps you feel more in control, by showing you what you can change and what is outside your control.
- Greater self-confidence. If your goals have always been just beyond your grasp, it may be because you’ve never created an effective plan for reaching them. Once you have a plan in place, you’ll be surprised by how much you’re able to accomplish.
- Greater self-awareness. To create a plan is to begin to understand yourself. It helps uncover your passions and priorities, and whether they reflect your true values. You come to learn about your personal tendencies, inclinations, and aversions—and how to overcome them!
When you make a plan, you’re creating the blueprint to get from where you are now to where you want to be in the future. It takes your goal out of the world of fantasy, and into reality.
10 Steps to Creating a Plan to Achieve Your Goals
By Kate Dagher
Why is creating a plan to achieve your goals important?
Creating a plan to achieve your goals is important because doing so shapes a non-tangible plan into actionable tasks that help you work towards achieving your goals. More times than not, your goals can be broken down into steps that can be used to work towards your achievements. When you have actionable steps to take, achieving your goals becomes more realistic and realizable.
“A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation.”
These statistics go to show that when you put some thought and effort into how you’re going to achieve your goals, they become much more attainable and ultimately boost your chances at succeeding.
- Write your goals: “Once you have your goals articulated, take some time to turn them into a creative and artistic visual. Though it might sound juvenile, sit with color markers, crayons or paint and write them out in a way you might if you were back in school. This activates a different part of your brain, and as it will be wildly different to your working style, will help cement your goals in your mind. The creative process will also help you see in terms of what is possible and not get stuck in rational thinking. Do not put pressure on yourself to create a masterpiece, just create something visibly striking and enjoy the creative process as you go.”
- Prioritize your goals: Understanding which goals are of the utmost priority is important because different goals require different types of planning. In this case, you’ll initially want to identify what you would like to accomplish first, in terms of importance. Creating lists is a great way to map out your different priorities and their timelines. Your action plan becomes significantly more actionable when you prioritize your responsibilities and goals, and assign specific timelines to them. By organizing which goals you want to achieve, you can subsequently decipher the steps required to get there. If you’re working in a group, this prioritization is especially critical in ensuring accountability across the team.
- Set and celebrate small milestones within your larger goal: “Goals that include only the end result such as “get a new job” can lead to quickly losing motivation and feeling defeated. It’s okay to want an end goal, but I’ve found for my coaching clients that defining and celebrating the steps that get you there is critical for success. For example, if you are looking for a new position, your steps could include contacting a certain number of people in your network each week, updating parts of your LinkedIn profile, or doing other concrete activities that put you in contention for new opportunities. Make these shorter targets your aim so that each week you can celebrate completing something where you had control of the outcomes. This improves your sense of agency and allows you to feel successful along the way, instead of feeling like you’ve failed when you haven’t reached your final desired result yet.”
- Arrange progress deadlines: Assigning specific deadlines for yourself is going to keep you organized and on track to achieving your goals. This process is especially useful when you’re working on several simultaneous tasks and need to be smart with the way in which you spend your time. Not only do progress deadlines help with time management, but they also help you hold yourself responsible for what you’ve set out to do. Breaking down bigger goals and assigning them dates is going to ensure you stay on top of everything and on schedule to achieving your goals.
- Tell others about your goal: Tell other people about your goal; doing so will provide you with support in working towards your achievements. When others are aware of what you’d like to accomplish, there’s no doubt that they’re going to do what they can to help you get there. One-on-one goal setting with your boss is a great way to make known what you’re working towards so you can ask for their guidance and support. Here’s an effective one-on-one goal setting template from Fellow that you can try for yourself!
- Surround yourself with people who motivate you: You are who you surround yourself with. This is true inside and outside of the office, so be intentional with who you choose to spend your time with. You want to be around other people who are ambitious, organized, and supportive, as these are the types of qualities which influence your own behaviors and attitudes. If for some reason you feel as if there are particular individuals around you who are negatively impacting your motivation, be careful to take time and space away from them so you can protect your drive to achieve your goals. Our time is far too valuable to be spent around anyone who impedes our growth or success.
- Track progress: It’s extremely important to keep track of your progress as you work towards achieving your goals. With Fellow, you can track your goals with the Objectives tool. Here, you can record, define, and track the progress of your objectives and key results (OKRs) so you never feel lost as to what has been done and what still needs to be accomplished. Tracking your progress with a tool like Fellow is also perfect for reviewing your progress and achievements with your boss during one-on-ones or during your team meetings.
- Determine what resources you need: Not only do you have to plan what you’ll do to achieve a particular goal, but you also need to determine what kinds of resources are required to find success. Think about if the goal that has been set requires particular technologies, resources, or money. This determination of resources is what differentiates your action plan from a wishlist. Identifying the necessary resources to achieve your goal will enable you to make informed decisions about how to implement each step required to realize your goals. Make a list of the resources you anticipate needing to realize your goals, then share this list with your boss or the colleagues with whom you’re collaborating.
- Refine your goal: Once you’ve created your goal and the steps required to achieve it, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need to refine and redefine your goal as you move forward. This agility and ability to keep an open mindset regarding how to meet your goals is what will enable you to achieve long-term success over and again throughout your career. No effective plan is static, and it’s important to think about any challenges or obstacles you may face along the way so you can put together mitigation and backup plans. Your plan should be dynamic and have the ability to evolve with you as circumstances shift. Regularly review your plan to make the necessary changes as you go along.
- Set realistic expectations: Lastly, be realistic with yourself. If your goal isn’t attainable, it’s going to discourage you from working on it. As such, it’s so important to break down your goals into smaller, tangible actions. Being realistic holds you accountable because you know that you’re capable of these tasks. Not only do the smaller tasks that collate to establish your goal need to be realistic, but your timeline and your resources list also need to be realistic and feasible. If you start goal setting with unrealistic expectations, you’ll struggle to keep your motivation and you may face greater challenges to meet your goals in the long run. It’s much more effective and much easier to simply be realistic with yourself.
Watch your personal growth thrive as you implement these 10 ways to make a plan to achieve your goals. Small changes can make significant differences in your productivity and effectiveness when it comes to short- and long-term goals. Be sure to put things on paper, prioritize your goals, and celebrate each step that brings you closer to achieving your them. Arrange progress deadlines and be sure to share the goals you have in mind with your boss or your colleagues. Surround yourself with people who inspire you, track your progress, identify the resources you need, keep redefining your goal, and be realistic with yourself, and you’re all set! If you found this article helpful, be sure to share it with a friend or a colleague. It’s always a pleasure seeing you on the Fellow Blog! We’ll see you next time.
- Create a plan by dividing your goal into chunks
2. Review your plan daily
3. Stay on target
A lifetime of accomplishment doesn’t happen by accident; it’s the result of careful planning and a determination to succeed. Once you create a solid plan for reaching your goals, you’ll be surprised at how your motivation increases. Accomplishment, then, is only a matter of time.
Achieve Success with Careful Planning
By Strategic Essentials is a Managing Partner for Leadership Management® International, Inc.
Long-range objectives require time as well as action. Others can be reached easily and quickly. A few may even appear to be mutually exclusive. How do you choose between goals that conflict? How do you know which goal to tackle first? The answer is found in priorities. To sum it up, you must decide which goals are most important for the success of your organization. Such decisions depend upon clearly stated priorities based on organizational values. Then, making workable plans is the key to making things happen.
Plan to Achieve
Once a goal is identified as a high priority, you are ready to develop a workable plan for achieving it. Here are several suggestions:
- State your goal as clearly and concretely as possible. Ask, “How will we know when we have achieved this goal?” Unless you can answer this question specifically, go back and restate the goal. To make a goal specific, isolate one particular type of situation for improvement. You might state a goal in this way: “Leaders will give instructions so that when an assignment is made, team members will follow instructions correctly without coming back repeatedly for additional explanations.” This, then, is a goal for which you can identify specific actions that will bring appropriate results. To be as specific as possible when you state a goal, ask exactly what will you and your team do to accomplish this goal? When will you do it? Who else in the organization will be involved? How will this action change your overall effectiveness? How much effect will this action have on your productivity? What conditions will exist when this goal is achieved? Answering these questions makes it possible to state your goal more specifically.
- Identify the benefits of achievement. List every possible reward or benefit that will accrue to your organization when you and your team members achieve the goal. Include tangible rewards like increased profit and intangible rewards like satisfaction in a job well done. Anticipating the rewards of success keeps enthusiasm and motivation at a high level.
- Once you have stated the goal and identified the benefits of achieving it, list specific action steps for accomplishing it. These are the concrete activities you and your team members can follow on a day-to-day basis for completing all the work needed to bring the goal into reality. Perhaps the goal is to advance your organization in the marketplace, and your staff lacks knowledge or training in a specific area. Action steps might include identifying books and materials to study, acquiring them from the library or by purchase, allocating time for team member study and interaction, and setting up a method to apply and test new knowledge.
- Set target dates for reaching your goals. When you have identified simple actions that are progressive steps to achievement of the total goal, estimate how long it will take to accomplish each step. You know how fast you and your team members work, how urgent the need is to complete the job, and what else those involved will be doing at the same time. Set a target date for each step, and you can determine when the work will be completed and the goal finally reached.
- Identify obstacles and roadblocks. If you encounter difficulty listing needed action steps, you probably need to identify likely obstacles and to plan solutions for overcoming them. Ask, “What could keep us from achieving this goal?” You may list obstacles such as lack of information or skills training, shortage of resources or money, or the opposition of others. One obstacle might be doubt that you can reach the goal! Whatever they are, recognize the existence of obstacles and realistically anticipate the problems they could cause.
- Develop solutions for overcoming obstacles. Many solutions are obvious. If you lack information, choose a method of gaining the required knowledge. If time is a problem, consider eliminating some present time-consuming tasks by delegating appropriately, eliminating tasks that do not help meet organizational goals, or rearranging team member schedules. Use creativity to find solutions. Discover innovative ways to go over, around, or through any roadblocks to goals achievement. There is always a way to overcome any obstacle if you believe it exists and look for it!
Although the process of achieving success through goal setting is easy to understand, a written plan of action is not a substitute for organizational effort. The journey toward success becomes a process of accomplishing each of the steps in the process.