This is a continuation of the 4 Steps to Accomplishing Your Goals series, a walk-through of the process I use to accomplish many things throughout the year. I’m also highlighting stories from people who’ve accomplished big goals in their life or business.
Today is Step 2: Plan and Take Action. We’ll go through a process to define all of your action steps, and ensure you don’t miss something obvious. I’ll also help you create a timeline (even if you’re not a “schedule person”) and find the right person to share your goal with. Then, you’ll use your plan to get started on the goal! If you haven’t read it already, I recommend catching up on Step 1: Assess and Clarify before continuing on to this second step.
Keep reading to learn more about Step 2 and then come back next Tuesday (Jan 24) to read Step 3: Break Barriers and Collect Small Success.
The four steps each also have worksheets that help you walk through this process. If you want them, be sure to answer Yes!! on that section on the Insiders signup form (if you’re already signed up, you can update your profile by using the same email you used before).
Step 2: Plan and Take Action
Make your action steps
Without a plan, you might as well be wishing the goal will happen on its own.
Get your clarified goal (from Step 1) and list all the things that you’ll need to do to accomplish it.
Even if this seems redundant from Step 1 when you made it specific and actionable, there’s probably still work to do. I’m guessing that even if you originally started with a larger goal and already broke it down into smaller action-oriented goals (way to go!), you’ll still have other steps to take in order to accomplish each subgoal, so take this time to do break them out now.
Sometimes it’s a bit nebulous as to when Step 1 stops and Step 2 begins, so if you’re ahead of the class on this that’s totally fine. Just make sure you think through this process anyway to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Also, if your goal is already very tiny, then Step 2 will go much faster and may be almost automatic.
If you your goal isn’t that specific or actionable after doing Step 1, now’s your chance to correct it. You can use this process to help you think through what action steps should be included:
What’s the first thing you need to do?
Is there anything that needs to happen before you can do that, or would you be able to start immediately? (This helps you think about whether there’s something obvious that will prevent you from getting started)
What’s the next thing you need to do?
Will you be able to do this immediately after the first, or is there anything that needs to happen between these steps?
(Keep going until you have all the steps outlined.)
(If you don’t know what action steps need to be included, one of your first steps is probably asking for outside perspective/advice and researching how other people have accomplished similar goals.)
After you finish that outline, you should also consider these questions that are easy to overlook:
If required, did you include an action step to talk with anyone else involved with or affected by your plan?
Did you include steps to learn the information and skills you don’t already have?
Does each desired part of your mental image of what success looks like have a corresponding step in your current plan?
Did you include a plan for checking your progress on the action steps that will take a long time?
Create a timeline
Assign deadlines to each action step for when it will get done. This doesn’t have to be a minute-by-minute plan, but it should have major milestones on it.
Schedule each action step into your calendar or use whatever other method you prefer to commit to doing these action steps at specific times.
If you’re a person who rebels against schedules, plan action steps for a specific day or week instead of a specific time of day. Be careful! To make this flexible method work, the action steps need to be priorities for the time period they’re assigned to, or they’ll likely keep getting postponed instead of getting accomplished.
Think of someone who you want to tell the goal to, and then share the goal with them in the next two days.
It’s up to you to decide whether you want to share details of the plan or just the overall goal, but you should share it with someone who will be supportive. If you’re looking for an accountability partner along the way, be sure to share your timeline too, so they know what progress to expect and how to encourage you at each point in your plan.
I know there’s debate on whether it’s better to share goals or to not share them, but in my experience, it’s better to share with at least one person… if you choose the right person! They need to be someone who can support and encourage you, and won’t give you too much attention just for saying you’re planning to do something (rather than actually doing something). If you don’t have anyone like this in your daily life, there are plenty of options to find a mentor, accountability partner, or understanding community online.
Take action – Get started now!
You can have the perfect plan, but if you never follow it, it won’t help.
Use your plan and the excitement of starting something new to give you motivation. Taking action on the goal now (even if it’s a small step) will make you feel much more connected to this process and goal, make it easier to achieve.
Even if your timeline says the first action step will be done tomorrow, there’s probably an extra action you can do today to gain some momentum.
You could do something today that gives you more time tomorrow to work on the goal, like doing one extra errand.
You could also spend some time learning about something related but not essential to the goal, or get inspired by watching a video or reading a story of someone accomplishing your goal.
Once you’ve started taking action, continue using the plan to keep your forward progress going over the next week, and then come back next Tuesday (Jan 24) to read Step 3: Break Barriers and Collect Small Success.
Want the worksheet to help you through this process? Sign up for the Insiders list and answer Yes!! on that section of the signup form to let me know to email it to you.
(If you’re already signed up, you can update your profile by using the same email you used before).