How to Achieve Goals with an Action Plan
From launching an entrepreneurial empire to taking time for self care, we all have aspirations that we want to achieve. Yet, often these goals remain unrealized for years or even lifetimes. Why? Because thinking of goals is easy, accomplishing them is difficult.
Most of us have dreams untouched by action. It’s why every new year we find ourselves promising to achieve similar resolutions. How do we change that?
You achieve big goals through an action plan that is 1) motivated by a mission, 2) easy to manage, and 3) rewards your progress. Sounds good, right? Yep! Let’s get started!
Here are 5 steps to see your goals realized within just 90 days:
1. Know your ‘Why’
The best goals start with ‘why’ not ‘what.’ Why do you want to launch a business?
Being able to answer the why helps to define your motivation. It will keep you on task when obstacles come your way, which inevitably happens when overcoming a major challenge like building a startup.
- Ask yourself why you want you want to achieve your goal, then ask it again.
- Write it down or let a friend continue to ask you why as you talk out the reasons that motivate your decision to pursue this goal. This creates an accountability record behind your reasoning.
- Note: This repetition of asking why is necessary to get to the root of what really drives you. Keep asking until you find an emotional core to your goal.
When you uncover the true meaning behind your goal, you’ll be able to define it into a mission. As you discover the values and emotions that motivate the why behind your goal, you are more likely to stick with it. You can’t be motivated by “shoulds.” Your goal should be driven by the transformation that you will gain when you accomplish it.
2. Get S.M.A.R.T. with your Goals
Amplify your mission statement into a solid and achievable action plan through S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
With your why and vision defined, ask how your goal is:
• Specific: Is my goal clearly defined?
Great goals are focused and well-defined. Use your why as the basis to your specific goal.
• Measurable: How will my goal be measured?
Assign concrete numbers to your goals as a way to see if you’re on track. Examples: visit 3 countries, gain $1,000 in monthly revenue from my new business, or lose 20 lbs in 3 months.
• Attainable: How achievable is your goal?
It is good to think big, but make sure your goal is something you can accomplish within the set-time frame. You may not become the starting pitcher of the Braves in 90 days, but you may improve your endurance or increase your throw speed during that time with practice.
• Relevant: How realistic are your goals to your current conditions?
Relevant goals are are based on reality. You may hope to run a marathon in a month, but if you haven’t run before or are currently experiencing an injury, you may need to re-evaluate the timeframe to be prepared for your first race.
• Time-bound: How long will it take to achieve your goal?
Create a timeframe for your goal. We suggest 90 days because it chunks a goal within a reasonable and foreseeable window of time. When the first three months are completed, you can see your progress and establish what you will do within the next 90 days.
If your goal does not meet all of the above criteria, you need to rework it until it does. Give yourself 20 minutes to write down how your goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
3. Plan the Steps Ahead
Big goals often feel overwhelming. It is best to tackle tough tasks with an outline that shows the small steps necessary to get to where you want to go.
Ask yourself: What can I do daily, weekly, and monthly to achieve my goal in 90 days?
- Listing the steps required to achieve your goal;
- Writing them down in the logical order that they need to be completed with target due dates;
- Then break down how you will be able to do each item of that list in time increments.
For example, the idea of gaining 20 new high-value, enterprise customers seemed impossible, but focusing on two customers per month made it more feasible. I knew if I focused on a relationship building campaign and stuck to my strategic plan, I would be halfway to my goal in just a few months. My team and I focused on each day’s progress. Every small victory carried us forward until we smashed our big goal and hit the $1 million mark in revenue.
Whether it’s building a million-dollar business or learning to code, we often want to achieve our dreams overnight. When we don’t, we give up too quickly.
Progress is gradual. Each step adds up. If you keep this perspective in mind, you will be on your way to achieving your goal in just 90 days. You simply need to focus on the next step ahead and be consistent with your actions.
4. Be Accountable
Research shows that you are more likely to achieve a goal with the help of peers. Find a friend, family member, or mentor who can check in with you and your accomplishments. An accountability partner will put focus on you, and help you from putting things off. (Procrastination, anyone?) You will also receive the gratification of sharing your wins.
If you cannot find someone to keep you accountable, you can use social media to help you. For example, a recent study by American University states that people who posted about weight loss goals were more likely to shed the pounds. The same strategy can be applied to business.
In-person groups can also help you with accountability. If your goal is to learn how to get better at social media or find time for wellness, you could go to a workshop or join a workout group. These fixed meetings keep you focused on your progress and connect you with others who are also looking to master new skills or goals.
5. Celebrate Intentionally
On the road to achieving your super goal, it is easy to look over your progress. Don’t forget your wins. Create rewards that help you along the way. These should be gifts or activities that celebrate the progress you’ve made.
When your resolve wavers, also do an inventory of how well you’ve done. Write down all the things you have accomplished. Post them on sticky notes or email them to yourself. Keep these wins in places where you will often seen them.
The Next 90 Days
At the end of 90 days, create a progress report with notes about all you’ve accomplished in the last 3 months. You likely hit or exceeded your goal, but, if not, celebrate what you have achieved. Chances are that you have accomplished something.
Then what? Start again. Create a plan for the next 90 days, another bite-sized window to help you focus on accomplishing the things you want in life.
Ready to conquer your dream list? Get your free goal action guide to reset your resolutions.