You have goals. That’s wonderful. Believe it or not, you’re doing great. Life coaches everywhere will tell you that a lot of people haven’t even made it that far.
Now you’re probably wondering how to achieve those goals. Many people psych themselves out at this step. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to achieve these grand goals you have floating in your head.
Life coach Lauren Handel Zander suggests that people haven’t really taken enough time to figure out what they want out of life. Taking the time to sit down and map out what you want can help guide your life. “Whatever you’re chasing in life — it needs to be you true north,” says Zander.
The best way to not get overwhelmed, and to achieve goals is to create an action plan. When you have a plan, you can see the journey step by step and suddenly your goals seem easy to attain. Here is the best way to create a great action plan based on advice from several life coaches.
A Ten-Step Action Plan to Help You Reach Your Dreams
Step 1: Relax.
As stated before, a lot of people can be overwhelmed at the thought of trying to achieve goals. Just relax. You need to get rid of stress first before you embark on this journey because you need a clear head.
Whatever you need to do to take the edge off, do it (as long as it’s nothing harmful to yourself like drugs or alcohol). Take a couple of days off, do yoga, read some self-help books, and get yourself in the right state of mind. You don’t want to start the journey off as a frazzled mess. That isn’t going to help anything.
Step 2: Clearly define your SMART goals.
You may have goals, but your goals need to be clearly defined. According to life coach Alexis Robin, co-founder of pLink Coaching Center, “when you get crystal clear about where you are going on a project, in your career, or in your life, each decision you make will get you closer to or further from that vision. If you are struggling with big decisions it may be because you don’t have your destination clearly identified.”
To clearly identify your goals, you should use the acronym SMART. This stands for:
- Specific – your smart goal should be as specific as possible. For example, instead of just saying you want to save money, you should specify how much you want to save and give yourself a deadline.
- Measurable – you should be able to keep track of your progress. It’s essential to be able to see the progress from week to week or month to month.
- Attainable – you should always aim high, but the goal needs to be reasonable and attainable. For example, don’t say you want to save a million dollars in six months if you’re currently only bringing in $20,000 annually.
- Relevant – the goal should be relevant to your life, skills, and needs. For example, don’t have a plan to buy a new car if your goal is to save money.
- Time-based – you should be able to set a deadline for you to achieve the goal. The deadline should be reasonable.
Step 3: Figure out your reason why.
It’s important to understand why you want to reach the SMART goal you’re striving for. Your reason why could be simple. You want to save money so you’re not living paycheck to paycheck. You want to lose weight so you can live a healthier lifestyle. These are simple, but sometimes you have to dig a little deeper to find the real why.
This could take some self-exploration and it may be a little scary to do that. However, understanding why you want to achieve that goal will provide you with the motivation you need to do it.
For example, you might want to save money so you can enjoy more time and activities with your children before they completely grow up. That’s much more motivational than simply saying you don’t want to live paycheck to paycheck.
Step 4. Create actions and a timeline.
You have your SMART goal in place, and you’re motivated to accomplish it. This part of the action plan is where you map out exactly how you’re going to do that.
You should be able to create a list of actions or tasks that will take you, step by step, to your goal. Essentially, you’re going to divide your main goal into smaller goals. Remember to keep the smaller goals attainable.
Step 5: Get started.
You would be surprised how many people create an entire action plan but never put it into action. Now that you have your plan all set, you have to start doing it. A plan without any action isn’t a plan at all.
This is where your real why is most important. It’s going to give you that fire to get started. Keep that in mind and don’t be afraid to take that first step in your plan.
Step 6: Delegate tasks and designate resources.
Parts of your plan may require the help of other people and outside resources. Don’t be afraid to seek out that help. However, make sure you’re counting on reliable people.
For example, if your goal is saving money, you might have a plan to get a promotion so you can have more money coming in. This means you may need to step up at work and take on leadership positions which include managing other co-workers. Here is where you’d delegate tasks and designate resources.
Step 7: Take your plan step by step.
Remember to take your plan step by step. Of course, you’re going to keep your primary goal in mind, but don’t allow yourself to think of the entire goal at one time. You may find yourself getting overwhelmed.
Remember, you made an action plan for a reason. Don’t focus on future steps. Focus on the step that you’re currently working on.
Step 8: Don’t give up.
Your plan makes it easier to achieve your goals, but it doesn’t make everything easy. There are still going to be challenges along the way. These challenges might push you to your limit.
You have to remember not to give up. Make sure you have a source of strength around you to keep you pushing towards your goals. Keep a reminder of your real why near you. Write daily affirmations, listen to motivational videos, and do whatever it takes to keep going. Remember, when things get hard, or almost impossible, don’t give up.
Step 9: Monitor your progress.
Keep an eye on the progress that you’re making. As you achieve each of your smaller goals, look at them as milestones. Look at them as points in the plan where you need to recognize your small successes so far and make sure you’re still on track.
In other words, hold yourself accountable. If your goal involves a team, hold your team accountable. Have meetings to make sure everything is going as planned. If you need to, meet with individual team members.
Pay attention to the needs that arise as you follow the steps of the action plan. Make sure you’re providing those needs so that your progress won’t stop. In fact, you may need to anticipate needs so that your progress doesn’t stall. You can’t anticipate needs unless you’re doing a great job of monitoring your progress.
Step 10. Celebrate your successes.
Everyone works better on a rewards system. Plan to reward yourself with the accomplishment of each small goal. It can be a small reward, or it can be something extravagant (although if you’re trying to save money you may want to go with a small reward).
If you have a team that’s involved in your plan, don’t forget to reward them for their successes as well. The reward could be as simple as recognition for their efforts. There are plenty of studies that show that employees (or team members) work harder and are more productive when they are recognized for their efforts.
This includes you recognizing yourself. It’s a great way to keep up your self-motivation.
Final Thoughts on Creating an Action Plan to Attain Your Goals
Having goals is the first step to a better future, but you have to find a way to reach them. Action plans are the way to do this. Focusing on the big picture all at once can be overwhelming but creating a plan to get you there makes your goals much more attainable.
Life coaches everywhere will tell you that smaller, attainable tasks take the pressure off you and that taking the pressure off allows you to thrive when you’re pursuing your goals. Take this advice and get started on your action plan as soon as possible. Remember to stay focused and stay motivated and before you know it, your big picture will become a reality.