How to achieve goals?
Well, here are the steps for how to achieve goals:
- Step 1: You need a SMART Goal
- Step 2: You need an Action Plan for your goal
- Step 3: You need to TAKE ACTION
- Step 4: Review your progress against your goal – regularly!
- Step 5: Reward yourself for you successes.
So, first of all you need a fully developed SMART goal – you need a Goal that is Specific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Reasoned, Realistic, Time-bound, Ethical, Exciting, Enjoyable and Resourced. See yesterdays post setting goals for Life.
Once you have a SMART Goal, you need to take action. Think of your goals as your target destination – so the Action Plan is how you get there! This is the FIRE part of READY-AIM-FIRE.
If your answer is “No”, take the time now to fully develop your Action Plan by expanding on these Action Items so that you have a truly actionable plan to achieve your goals.
Simply do this by taking each Action Item from your Setting Goals for Life and list the steps needed for each action item – include as much detail as necessary including the “What”, “When”, “Where”, “Why”, “How” and “Who”.
Have a Personal Strategic Plan which leads you through the goal setting process, and delivers a strategic plan of attack for you to achieve YOUR goals. It is based on the premise that life will not go according to plan, if you do not have a plan to begin with. The Personal Strategic Plan also helps you identify what’s really important to YOU – and that’s what’s REALLY important.
The KEY to Achieving Goals
The key to how to achieve goals is taking action. The key to getting action on your goals is to integrate the goal’s action plan into your day-to-day routine and tasks, and that’s where it’s important to have Planners and Schedules.
Planners’ are specifically for listing the action items or steps for how to achieve goals, and ‘schedules’ are used to see how the action plan should pan out over the program and to identify any conflicts in resourcing.
‘Schedules’ will give you a visual representation of effort and how to achieve goals. For example, if you prepare a yearly schedule, and it shows lots of activity in the first 3 months but not much after that, you either have a short term goal only with lots of mini-tasks or you’ve crammed too much into the early stages of your Action Plan – be realistic about how much you can take on at any one time.
‘Planners’ are used to incorporate your goal setting actions and day-to-day activities into the one memory-jogging list, and are the cornerstone of how to achieve goals.
Depending on the goal, Planners could be a daily plan, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly or any-other suitable time frame. For example, a healthy eating and exercise plan may have daily actions if you want to be very specific about your activities, where as a budgeting plan may only have weekly actions, and career development goals may be even longer.
It doesn’t matter which timeframe you adopt – chose the one that best suits the level of control you want to have over the Action Plan. Daily action plans will have the highest level of control.
Find a system that works for you. The key here is to be organised, you may find it hard to be disciplined enough to stay organised, but it pays off as you start to achieve your goal. You’ll also be more productive and efficient in your day-to-day activities if you’re better organised. Make sure you put your personal goals high on your priority list and don’t fall into the trap of looking after everyone else first.
You need to monitor and review your Action Plan and Goals
Reviewing goals and your progress towards your goals is a critical part of how to achieve goals. Goal setting is a dynamic process. Over the long term, your vision will change – goals you had when you were a kid were different to those as a teenager because your needs change, and so does your situation in life.
So, it is good practice to go through the whole goal setting process (yes, go through the whole thing again) every year or 2 and at least every 5 years, or if your life takes a sudden change in direction – for example, starting a family – to ensure you are always chasing the right ‘Big Picture’.
You can monitor the current ‘truth’ in your goal-setting journey by periodically reviewing your Mind Map and SWOT analysis – the important thing to ask yourself in this case is “does this still apply to me or has it changed?”.
By doing this you will pick up any early signs that your life is wanting to take a different journey to the one you’ve planned, and this is perfectly normal and in fact expected as your life progresses. The key thing is not to see a change in plans as a failure, it’s just a refocusing exercise.
Even short term goals need to be flexible enough to accommodate things that are out of your control (for example, other priorities on your time), or even things that are in your control but you just underestimated during your goal setting exercise (for example, underestimating how long it takes to quit a habit).
Don’t worry if your goals don’t go exactly according to your action plan, as long as you’re making progress in the right direction and make sure you update your action plan to suit so that it is still meaningful to you for achieving your goal. Remember the SMARTER components of your goal always need to apply.
What do you do once you’ve achieved a goal?
First of all, congratulate yourself on a job well done. It doesn’t matter how big or small your goal was, completion of a goal represents a step in the right direction towards your life success!
Reward yourself for your efforts with an appropriate treat [not a huge slice of chocolate cake if your goal was to lose weight!] – it sometimes helps to set this reward when setting the initial goal to help with motivation along the way, of course completion of the reward gives you a real buzz which is often a reward in itself!
But don’t stop here – set a new goal. Perhaps this was just a mini goal you’ve achieved – start the next mini-goal towards your milestone. Or have you achieved a milestone? In which case, go back through your list of goals and develop the next goal to start on. Does your available effort and resources allow you to work on another couple of goals?
Goal setting is a life-long process – your goals will change along the way, but you should always have some. As you become more experienced in the goal setting process, you will feel a lot more confident in setting and working towards multiple and more complex goals. Build on your experiences both good and bad and be the best that you can be and SUCCEED!
How to achieve goals? Remember, it’s all about you and it’s all up to you – you’re the only one who can set and achieve your goals.