Plan: Develop Specific Strategies to Help You Achieve Your Goals
By Lorie Rosenberg
"Plans are nothing; planning is everything." Dwight D. Eisenhower
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” Benjamin Franklin
The two quotes above really exemplify how important planning is if you want to truly accomplish anything in your life. Dwight D. Eisenhower basically said that plans are unimportant. Planning is everything. But you may ask, “How is that different?” Well, planning is the act of creating and your strategy for putting that into motion. It’s the actual steps you take to make something happen.
A plan can be stagnant, while planning is more fluid and can be changed depending on the situation. Many times a plan won't be completed because of developments in life that disrupt the plan. However, when you’re in a continual planning mode, you're better able to adapt to the situation and revise your plan as needed to ensure you're moving in the direction of your goals.
The second quote from Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,” is also one that many people don't choose to follow. That’s because it’s easier to ignore the planning process and just let your life take you where it may. However, when you fail to plan, there’s a greater likelihood that you’ll fail to get anywhere significant. Planning really is the best way to achieve your goals and objectives. It gives you the highest probability of success. So how can you plan more effectively so that you're headed in the direction of your aspirations in life?
Create Clear, Measurable Objectives
When you begin to develop your plan for achieving your goals, it’s good to break down your goal into smaller, more manageable steps that are easier to accomplish. For instance, if your goal is to write a book, you will need to determine the steps to take to do this. It may be that you want to begin by doing some research, making an outline of what you will cover in your book, and determining how, when, and where you will write this book.
Next, you will need to take these individual areas and break them down even further. For example, when doing research, how will you drill down even more? You could do this by determining topics for each chapter that you will research prior to writing your book. This will make your research more manageable and easier to tackle. By doing this, you'll be able to break down this overwhelming project into smaller steps that you can manage more easily.
Schedule Your Specific Tasks
Once you’ve outlined all the steps you need to take to write your book, you'll need to figure out how you’re going to dedicate time each day to writing your book. How much time will you need to allocate and how will you get uninterrupted time to dedicate to your project? For some people, it may be early in the morning and for others in the evening. What’s important is that you understand what works best for you and then make an appointment on your calendar every day to work on your specific tasks. Remember, as with your customer appointments, you need to make sure that you keep them. You must give them the same degree of importance as those you make with other people.
Determine Your Timeframe for Completion
You’ve broken down your project into manageable steps. Now you need to schedule deadlines for each step. There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate you to get to work and complete your goals. When you set your deadline for each task or step, make sure that it’s reasonable. You don’t want to set a deadline that’s completely impossible to achieve. When you do this, it could seriously impact the rest of your plan, causing you to have to completely revise the dates for subsequent tasks. It's better to give yourself ample time to complete your tasks and add in a little cushion just in case a problem arises or something happens that doesn’t allow you to work on your goal.
Address Any Outside Resources You’ll Need
When you’re creating your plan, make sure you take into consideration any outside resources you’re going to need to complete your specific tasks. For instance, when you’re writing your book, do you need to get an outside editor to proofread your book? In addition, are there any other considerations you need to address that will impact your schedule? If so, you'll need to make sure you allocate extra time for issues that may be beyond your control that could impact your plan. And if you’re depending on outside resources, make sure those people understand what their deadlines are so they don’t negatively impact yours.
Review Your Plan for Completeness
Once you’ve broken down your goal into manageable steps and determined deadlines, review it to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to complete your goal. Take into consideration anything that could derail your efforts. Make sure you’ve included any resources you’ll need, any funding considerations or anything else that will impact your effort to complete your goal. Once you’ve determined everything you can think of to complete your goal, make sure your plan is written in a way that you can monitor it on a continual basis and can revise it when the need arises. Planning is a process and not a one-time occurrence.
Make Your Goal a Habit
Typically, people create habits in 21 to 30 days and making your goal a habit, its the best way to complete it. To do that you need to work on your goal every single day, even if it’s only for an hour. A habit is something that you do almost without even thinking about it. When you create a habit of working on your goal, you’ll increase your likelihood of success.
Regroup After Setbacks
There will always be things that happen that will disrupt your effort. That’s the way it is in life. Nothing is the same every day. You need to understand that your plan will have to be continually adjusted to take into account any problems that arise. The important point is that you regroup your efforts after setbacks. Get back on track and revise your plan to take that into account. You don’t want to be always be trying to catch up with your schedule when challenges get in your way.
Monitor Your Process
As I mentioned previously, you can't make a plan and think that you'll be able to execute it as is. You will need to continually revise your plan based on your progress. For instance, you may see that some tasks are taking longer than you had estimated. If that happens, you may decide to get some additional outside help in order to meet your current deadlines. What’s important is that you continually monitor your objectives and your progress in meeting them so you’re not surprised when you’re way behind schedule.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
It feels so good when you achieve your goals. So why not celebrate them? Determine ways you’ll celebrate your accomplishments. You may want to do something special for yourself, buy a gift, or plan something when you've completed a particular goal in your project. Celebration gets people excited and motivates them to achieve results.
Set Your Plan into Motion
Remember that a dream without a plan is just a wish. If you want to accomplish anything that's truly important in life, you need to continually plan your effort and follow through with your actions. You start this by developing a plan and then setting it into motion. By working on it regularly, you can make it a habit that will continually move you in the direction of your goal. That’s the best way to accomplish anything that is truly important to you.
It’s Time to Go Create You!
No matter where you are, you have the potential for success. You have everything you need within you to reach your full potential…to live a life of significance and to fulfill your goals and dreams. There’s nothing that can hold you back if you know what it is you want to achieve, have a plan with specific steps to move you in the right direction, and the drive and motivation to see it through to completion. Isn't it time to Go Create You!