Many of us set goals in life but rarely do we take the time to plan out a strategy to reach our goals. Without a concrete plan an idea remains just that- An Idea. Action is what transforms the idea into an attainable and even more importantly a measurable reality.Voice of the Entrepreneur
So what stops us from creating highly targeted plans? Well a lot of it is to do with bad habits, we get excited about a goal that we want to achieve but the habit of not creating a plan to get there leaves us with nothing to move us into action, soon the idea fizzles away into dust.
In an interesting study done by Professor Gail Matthews in the Psychology Department of Dominican University of California on goals found that those who had written their goals and plans to accomplish them achieved more than those whose goals were not written. At the end of the study, only 43% of the group without written goals either accomplished their goals or were at least half way there, whereas, as much as 62% of the ones that did write them down accomplished them or were at least half way there. Another group, who had written goals with planning and were sharing weekly updates, achieved the highest average goal achievement score. 76% of those in this later group either accomplished their goals or were at least half way there.
Another factor that is also crucial in achieving goals is that our actions and therefore our results are based on our expectations of what we think we will get and not on the desire of what we want. Recently I wrote an article about ‘what you expect dictates what you have more than what you want’ (Add link) explaining that having an expectation of a certain result which is different from what we want is the reason why we can’t seem to have the things we really want in our lives. A great deal of planning can go into achieving a goal however the expectations of a preconceived result can set us up for failure right from the onset.
It makes sense then in order to break the cycle of bad habits combined with your expectations that conflicts with your wants, you’d need a powerful ally: a highly targeted plan. Derived from Tony Robbins famous RPM method or results-focused, purpose-driven, massive action plan this highly targeted planning tool focuses on 5 key areas
Let’s look at each of them separately
Vision: What do I really want?
The first step to creating a goal is to figure out what you want. If you don’t know what you want, you wouldn’t know what you need to achieve it. You may think you know what you want but take some time to really dig deep and ask yourself what is that I really want. The answer may surprise you.
Once you know the answer to this, the fun part then begins. You get to dream. What do you really want to create for yourself? What does your ideal life look like? Don’t be afraid to think big.
Writing down your vision will give you clarity and provide a means to reflect as you start executing your plan. Closing your eyes and visualizing your goal is also a powerful way to create an experience of achievement. Focus on the details, what are you doing? Where are you living? Make it vivid and use all your senses in your vision to make it most effective. Use all your senses, see, hear, smell, taste and feel throughout your vision.
Values: What is important about this?
The reason so many people never make it to their goals is because they do not have a compelling reason or a “Why” to keep going. The “Why” is derived from the value you put on achieving your goal and the results come from how deeply you value what is important about achieving them.
Ask yourself, what about this goal is important to me? Will this bring me closer to the life that I want or is it that I am being lead by a misguided belief of what is important? Once you are clear about what you value about the goal the next steps will become even more exciting to complete and execute.
Method: How will I get it?
The method to achieving your goal is just as unique as your goal. There is a plethora of tools and techniques that can help you map out your “How-To.” However, the most important thing to remember is complexity is the killer of action. As soon as you feel that your methodology has gotten complicated break it further down into smaller chunks. Do not get distracted by fancy planning tools that give you a gazillion options, use what works for you. The simpler the better.
Obstacles: What is preventing me from having it?
Obstacles arise when you start on the pursuit of your goals. So many people give up because as soon as they set a goal, things emerge that stop them. But most don’t even realize what they are, and as a result, they are just left with unaccomplished goals and an unshakable feeling of failure.
I believe there are external obstacles and then there are internal ones. The external ones, the ones we see as out of our control contrary to our belief are almost always much easier to deal with than the sneaky internal obstacles.
According to the author of Chicken Soup For the Soul, Jack Canfield, one of the most debilitating internal obstacles that arises when we set a goal is fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection you name it you will feel it. The fear is there to protect you from what your mind thinks is dangerous for you. It is a natural response but it is also quite naturally the greatest obstacle to success.
To overcome this internal obstacle, you must acknowledge your fears knowing that they are part of the process and keep moving past it. The only way to get over your fear is to get through it. Once you can genuinely deal with your internal obstacles, the external ones become less and less prominent and easier to deal with, because so often the external obstacles are a mere manifestation of the ones that hold us back internally.
Measurement: How will I know I am successful?
Part of an action plan is measuring how close or far you are form reaching your goals which involves measuring, tracking, and adjusting your approach. Without tracking there is no accountable way to measure your progress. You might think you’re doing well or even worse not doing so well but the opposite could be true, only consistent measuring can help you know for sure.
Choose an achievable time frame to accomplish your goals as well as measurable details so you know exactly when you’ve achieved them. Go back and reference your original plan to see how far along you have come and if you need to adjust your approach. Make sure to set yourself up for success by creating goals that are realistic and achievable in the given time-frame.
Set benchmarks by breaking your goals into small actionable steps and assigning realistic time frames to each. Continue to break big steps into smaller and smaller steps until goals seem less daunting and achievable. Benchmarking is a great way to measure your progress and help you keep you on track.