We have discussed the first two steps at length which are appraise and ascertain , and now we are on the third stage which is called the ‘Approach’ step. By reaching here, we are past the mind mapping phase and things are going to get more action-oriented and practical from here onwards. So this is the time to strengthen your commitments and actually take some practical steps to start the realization of your dreams because without targeted action, all that remains is mere talk and nothing practical.
Here is a recap for you in order to help you connect the third step with the first two and understand the process more clearly.
- In the first step, appraise, we talked about doing a comprehensive self-evaluation so that you can separate the positive patterns from the ones which are hindering your performance.
- In the second step, ascertain, we had a detailed look at everything related to devising your goals so that these goals are based on some solid foundations instead of personal whims.
If you have worked on these two steps, you must have in your hand:
- A detailed picture of your strengths and weaknesses along with a plan to further improve yourself by leveraging the pluses and eliminating the shortcomings
- A full-fledged document containing your short, medium and long term goals stacked in separate categories for further action
With this information handy, you have all the prerequisites that you need to start the first step –one that will guide your actions leading to achievement of your long term goals. During this process, the information from your self-assessment and your list of goals will be used as input for directing your activities.
Developing Your Action Plan
You cannot accomplish even the smallest of goals without making its action plan and listing down the real actions that you will have to undertake. Now that you have all your goals in front of you, it’s time to take each goal and support that goal by attaching an action plan with each one.
Here are the time-tested recommendations that will help you develop your action plan in order to direct your efforts towards completion and continuous success:
- Categorization - First of all, you need to take each goal and study it thoroughly before labeling it in one of the categories that you have already listed down. The categories may include personal goals, professional goals and the like.
- Prioritization - Within each category, you will now make a priority list by ranking your goals according to their importance. The ranking will be done based on the importance whereas the level of importance will be the outcome of your personal desire to do something and your intended achievement from fulfilling that desire. After ranking the long term goals, you will move to rank the short term goals under each major goal in order of level of contribution in fulfillment of the parent goal.
It is of great importance to set the deadline for every one of your goals according to their rank – otherwise these goals will be very less likely to see light of the day.
- Monthly Planning - When you are clear about your goals and their priority, it becomes easy to map them on a given timeframe and then pursue them according to the time limits. On the same lines, you need to create a monthly planner and chalk out your goals on that planner. Doing this will help you stay on track by giving you a visual of your to-do list so that you stay reminded of the pressing tasks that need to be completed before its deadline.
- Task Division - Now take your top most important goal and make a list of all the individual activities that will have to complete in order to achieve this goal. While doing this, think the goal through and make sure that you list down all the activities without missing anything. These measurable activities – instead of a large goal - will be the ones that will bring you closer to your goal.
- Weekly Planning - Once you have listed all the subsequent tasks that will help you materialize a goal, the next logical thing to do is to arrange them in their natural order of completion. By doing this, you will have a sequential to-do list which simply requires you to complete each task in this order without having to waste your energy cutting through a clutter. Just like you made a monthly plan, these sub-tasks will be planned on a weekly timeframe and at the end of every week, you should ideally be able to tick off all the week’s assigned tasks.
- Weekly Review - While working on a weekly schedule, it is always helpful to identify milestones for each task and stop during the week to gauge your progress. Pat yourself on the back if you are on the right track but in case you are not, re-plan your remaining week wisely and take quick action to make sure that this week’s targets are met positively. To make more room for these tasks, audit your plans for the running week and push down anything that is not serving your goal achievement.
- Resource Planning - After all your planning related to the tasks, their importance and their right order is done, the next step is to analyze your plan with a resource perspective. I recommend you to sit down and list all the resources that you will need to materialize your goals. The resources can fall into broad categories like People, Technical, Knowledge, and Information resources. Once you have a list of what you need, now plan the acquisition of that resources in terms of the possible source(s) to get hold of a particular resource as well as the time required to obtain it. This important step will ensure that you don’t waste time in the middle of the journey in arranging for resources.
- Action! - Now that you have planned each and every detail of your mission, it’s time to get running and start completing your weekly tasks so that your monthly targets are met. This way, you will see yourself start to check off your short term goals from the goals’ list leading to achievement of your bigger goals.
So today, we dived into the details of planning your goals in the most effective manner and if you have followed this discussion, you can already see your life’s ambitions being materialized – one after the other.
While it’s good to take some well-deserved rest after a big breakthrough, I cannot overemphasize the importance of building and maintaining your momentum because if you relax during this process, it will take you much more energy to get this momentum back – significantly increasing your chances of failure.
So now that you are starting your action plan, here are a few motivating words from one of the most accomplished personalities:
“Action is the foundational key to all success”
– Pablo Picasso
Stay tuned for the upcoming discussions that are geared to help you keep pushing forward on this track of success and achievement.