I’m a firm believer that with plans, the odds of one’s success increases. Even if things don’t go as planned, your outcomes are very likely to be better than if you had not planned. This I believe is a differentiator for those who make great strides in their lives and career when compared to others. In any discourse about success or progress, there is always the mention of goals. While a goal is very important, its value appears to have been diluted to the extent that it means nothing. People tend to treat goals as a list of “feel good” things a person hopes for. While the process of identifying and writing goals helps in crystalizing one’s desires and anchoring an individual’s innate goal seeking mechanism, it’s not enough by itself in helping one succeed. Rather than merely setting goals for the year, I propose putting together implementation plans.
An implementation plan goes beyond just identifying goals, to having a plan of action towards attaining them. It comprises the overarching goal (prime goal) along with action plans towards milestone goals that objectively signal our progress towards our prime goals. This means that careful thought must be applied towards this exercise. Because planning requires careful analysis of available resources, one’s individual abilities, and the possible obstacles that may arise on the way towards actualizing these goals, the exercise of writing an implementation plan challenges your will to succeed.
As you look ahead into what the future holds for you, here are a few steps you can take towards writing your implementation plans:
Start with a Prime Goal
Your goal is the target. It must be concise. Unfortunately, this is where many people stop. They put together a list of goals and rarely ever revisit the goals to reassess how they are doing in relation to their goal. Set audacious goal that will stretch you and force you to grow in the process of working towards them. Your prime goal sets the guidance for the rest of your implementation plan. As always, goals must be specific, measureable, and time bound. A poor goal is to say, “Start a business”, “Get promoted” or “Lose weight”. In writing out a goal, once you determine the target, ask yourself the question “How much?” and “By when?” A well written goal would read “I would lose 10lbs (4.5kg) in 6 weeks.” Or “Start a real estate management company by September 2015.” Or “Start a managerial role in a financial service firm by December 2017.” The idea is that the more specific you are, the better your prime goal is.
Milestone goals are smaller goals that divide your prime goals into phases of measurable progress. We’ve probably all heard the quote “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” or “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time…” Whichever quote you prefer, the psychological significance is that in completing any seemingly arduous task, it is less overwhelming, and more likely that we will complete the task if we know how much progress we are making towards the goal. Milestone goals may be multiple levels deep. For instance, if we continue along the lines of starting a business or making career progression, you would have to devote some time to researching what are the systematic steps towards your desired end goal. What value would you need to add/create? What are the logical steps based on your current situation? Do you have the skillset/capabilities for the next move? What relationships will you need to build to facilitate progress towards your goal? You get the drift…the point is that it requires a time of careful thinking and planning towards your stated prime goal. There are tons of resource materials that will help establish your milestone goals, as well as filling the knowledge and skill gap between your current position and your target.
Reinforce the Plan
If you have gone through the discipline to successfully complete steps one and two, your odds of success have gone up by 80% (I have not identified research to support this claim, but I’m pretty sure it’s near accurate). You now need to reinforce the plan. This means putting in place certain internal and external mechanisms that will make you feel uncomfortable if you begin to slack along the way. Here are a few ways to reinforce your implementation plans:
- Talk about your plans with people who will encourage you and hold you accountable. We’ve probably all heard the phrase that the tongue holds the power of life and death. The things we say about fulfilling and actualizing are goals can either give life or kill the inspiration to keep pursuing them. It’s important you talk with people who will objectively add value. Keep away from negative people, as well as sycophants. You need a healthy tension between encouragement and an objective assessment of your possible blind spots.
- Have images or sounds that represent the end goal. Magazine cutouts, screenshots, Pinterest boards, soundtracks, video clips that you can see and hear on a daily basis that represent the fulfillment of the goal help fuel our determination to succeed. In essence, what does it look or feel like to have attained that goal? Do your best at recreating this feeling in a personal way.
- Actionable lists or props that signal the next move towards a milestone. Keeping a list of what needs to be done the next day helps reinforce the desire to see the full implementation of your plan. An example would be to set a date for professional exams you may need to take. Or perhaps, you need to write out a list that you will conspicuously place, of 10 people that you can partner with in your new venture.
- Get involved with a companion of people working towards something similar. A simple rule here is to surround yourself with people who are much further along on the path towards your goal. Seeing them ahead and being around you will either frustrate you out of the process or motivate you towards it. But I reckon that you are not a quitter, so I believe the latter will prevail in your case.
The secret is to create an environment that evokes the feeling of success or progress towards the prime goal. All human beings have an internal goal seeking mechanism. With use and exercise of the will, we further energize our internal “go-getter”
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines relentless as “showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace”. This means you constantly and progressively work towards each milestone, moving you closer to the prime goal. To be relentless means that you will remain persistent even when it doesn’t “feel” good; whether convenient or not you work towards the task at hand. Simply put, there is no shortcut to success. It takes hard work to be considered a success in any aspect of life. The journey will be filled with ups and downs, but with each experience, make sure you are getting better. Quitting is never an option for those who succeed.
Reassess & Revisit
It’s usually not a straight path journey towards the actualization of your goals, so it is imperative that at each milestone you reassess your progress. Again, you are always better off with a plan, so don’t be discouraged if it seems you are coming short. These steps highlighted here ought to be an iterative process. Every war is made up of many battles; don’t label yourself a failure because you lost a battle. Pick yourself up and fight again. The war is yours to win. You may have to change your strategy and tactics, but with determination and strong faith you will succeed. I live you with this quote by John Maxwell, “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to…failure.” The way you respond in the face of changing circumstances affects how likely you are to achieve your prime goals.
I would love to hear from you on how things are going, so drop a comment. Also feel free to reach me at http://moyomamora.com/contact if you have questions.
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