Now that we have determined how to set a SMART goal(please see previous posts) it is time to take it to the next level and actually design a plan or strategy for achieving it. Take a look at your goal, if you have followed the steps in the previous two posts then your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time specific.
Next, determine what needs to be done to attain that goal by breaking it down into actionable steps. I use a big blank piece of paper and just start writing all the things I feel are involved in that goal. As you are brainstorming this part you’ll notice that certain steps seem to go together, write them in the same area of the paper. You’ll end up with a “mind map” or “web” with key steps grouped together. Make sure to break each idea down until it is a specific step. Going back to our example of raising a grade to an 83%, we can see that a step such as, “studying more” is much too general. Break it down until you can get to the specifics involved (it helps to answer who, what, where, when, why and how questions). Is your goal still realistic and attainable given all these steps?
Now before we go further, take a look at what you have written down. Do you see any potential obstacles, roadblocks or challenges that could occur to stop you from achieving your goal? If you can foresee the obstacles before they occur you can design strategies to overcome them before they happen. Knowing your plan if “x” should occur will prevent you from giving up on your goal because one thing went wrong. I am assuming you have had this goal before but did not achieve it. Einstein is known for his definition of insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. What will make it different this time?
You should take a short break at this point and let your brain process all this information. Often new ideas or strategies will come to you while you are doing something else that is less brain intensive. Come back and reread what you have written, is there anything to add?
The last step for today is to prioritize your steps and actually put them in your calendar. You do use a calendar don’t you? Mark out where and when you will do step a, b and c, etc. I would suggest you double the time you think it is going to take to do the step, until you get a better idea of the actual amount of time you will need for each step. Is it still realistic? What can you do RIGHT NOW to keep the momentum going? DO IT!
Next post will cover ways to leverage your environment and track your progress. Please feel free to post your questions or goals in the comment box below.