Setting goals is all well and good, but without plans and systems in place to achieve them, they’re just wishes and dreams. Planning to achieve goals is vital for anyone who wants to be a true goalmaster. Two people can set the exact same goals, and one may succeed where the other fails. The difference is in their plans to achieve those goals.
Examples of plans to achieve goals
Say you’re a musician, and you want to learn a new piece of music. Your plans will include how often and for how long you’ll practice, how you tackle difficult passages, and how you get feedback from your instructor.
Or maybe you’re a basketball player who wants to hit 45% of your 3-point shots. Your plans will include how often you practice, how you warm up, where you practice from along the 3-point line, how many repetitions at each spot, whether you practice with someone else playing defense, how you vary your hand position, wrist position, and arm position, and how often you practice each of those variables.
How to plan to achieve goals
Whatever your goals, write them down clearly. I recommend the PACT method of goal setting, where goals are Personal, Actionable, Continuous, and Trackable.
* Personal goals have special meaning to you; they’re not imposed on you by someone else.
* Actionable goals depend solely on your actions. You can’t set a goal of selling $4,000 worth of widgets; you can only control dialing the phone.
* Continuous means you can keep taking action over and over to reach your goal.
* Trackable is a yes/no system. Did you do any incremental part of doing the thing? If so, you win!
Next, make a list of all the things you need to do to achieve your goals. Write down everything you can think of, every step that will inform your plans to achieve your goals. Nothing is too little or too unimportant. (If you think something small can’t make a difference, you’ve never been stuck in a room with a mosquito!)
Now figure out your timeline for achieving your goals. Set specific, realistic dates for each step to be completed by. Don’t just set due dates; set “do” dates, the day and time you’re going to work on each step. Put everything on your calendar
One of my Messages From the Wall says, “Every time you say you will do something and end up not doing it, you are committing a sin to yourself.” Make sure you work on each step when your calendar says you’re going to do it.
Examples of the planning process
Once you’ve set your goals, you need to break them down into smaller goals, then into smaller tasks, then into smaller to-dos. For example, let’s say you want to write a book in 2022. First you’ll want to do an outline of your book. For easy math, we’ll say your outline indicates you’ll be writing 12 chapters. That means your smaller goal is to write one chapter every month.
To write one chapter in a month, you need to set a task of writing daily, or every other day, or three times a week, whatever’s going to fit best into your schedule. Your to-dos will be to write, say, 1500 words every time you sit down and write. Those writing times will go into your calendar to make sure you keep those appointments with yourself.
When you’re creating plans, ask yourself, what’s the result you’re looking for? What are you trying to achieve? What steps do you need to take, and what steps could you eliminate? Could a checklist help you execute your plans? Can you delegate or automate some steps?
Evaluating your plans
After following your plans for a few weeks, take a step back and see how things are going. How are you currently getting these things done? Are things going as quickly as you’d like? Is it as easy as it could be? Where are you losing or wasting time? Where are you losing money?
Analyze what you’re doing now – follow your plan and write down every step of the process. What steps are you taking? What tools are you using? Where are the speedbumps that are slowing you down? What’s frustrating you? How much time are your plans taking? How much money are you spending to follow your plans? And most importantly, are you getting the results you want?
Continuously improve on your plans
Plans to achieve your goals should theoretically be a “set it and forget it” proposition. But in the real world, life happens, and plans fall by the wayside. There’s an old saying that says, “Man plans; God laughs.” And the Beatles famously told us that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
Set aside time every month or two to review your plans. How are things going? Are you still getting the results you want? Can you make your plans more efficient or more effective? Can you make improvements to your plans to get better results?
Another Message From the Wall says, “I am not my thoughts. I am what I do.” All the plans in the world mean nothing if you don’t take action on them. Planning to achieve goals is only one step in the process of becoming a goalmaster. You have to create your plans, follow your plans, evaluate them to make them more effective and efficient, and continuously refine them to ensure you’re still getting the best possible results.
For more on setting and achieving goals, check out Five systems for goal setting, and Choosing what goals to set.