As you work toward a goal, you can improve your chances of success by prioritizing the action steps you need to take to achieve it. Prioritization is the process you use to decide the order in which you will complete a set of actions to achieve your goal in the most efficient, effective way possible. Any goal you’ve set — no matter how big or small — requires clearly defined priorities.
Prioritization, however, is easier said than done, especially when every action item feels like a top priority.
In our 10-part series on goal setting, we’re covering how to get clarity around setting goals and develop a master plan of action to achieve them.
Before continuing here, make sure you read the previous installment in this series, How to Stay Active When Moving Toward Your Goals to prepare yourself for the topic of prioritizing those action items here.
Where Does Prioritization Fall in Achieving your Goals?
When it comes to goal setting, there are three stages of the Arootah 10 Step Success Formula:
If you’ve been following along in our series, we previously covered prioritization in the “Mission” stage — that’s where you prioritize your highest-impact overall goals.
Prioritization here in the “Plans” stage is different; in the “Plans” stage, we use the importance and urgency of each action item in a plan and order them accordingly to reach a goal.
“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Prioritizing your Actions
Creating a group of actions to accomplish an objective may sound complex, but actions are the gasoline that fuels the car you drive toward your goal.
Many people put their plans to rest as soon as it’s time for them to take action. Maybe you’ve set a goal to lose 10 pounds within two months, for example, but you still haven’t completed the first action on your list: Contact a personal trainer.
Something keeps preventing you from taking action. Maybe you’re too tired after work, maybe your kids suddenly have to attend a last-minute event, but you just can’t seem to find time to schedule that phone call.
If these scenarios sound familiar, you’re not alone. According to psychologists, there are many reasons why we self-sabotage by prioritizing other activities over our action plans. These reasons include:
- Fear of failure
- Fear of being out of compliance
- Fear of rejection
- Improper mindset
Prioritizing Your Actions When Everything Feels Important
So, how can you move towards action (and away from fear) when working towards a goal?
It helps to break down what you need to do into action items and prioritize them according to:
- Sequence, relating to how other actions are dependent on the action. For example, while setting your alarm may not seem like a high priority, if you don’t set it, everything you need to do to prepare before your 5 a.m. morning meeting won’t matter if you sleep through it.
- Impact, the significance the action will have on achieving your specific goal.
Thinking about these criteria can help you objectively decide the order in which to prioritize your action items.
How to Prioritize Your Actions for a Goal
Even with unlimited motivation, you won’t have enough time to complete every action you’ve come up with to achieve your goal.
Here is a simple process we teach as part of the Arootah 10 Step Success Formula you can use to help yourself prioritize action items:
- Make a list of the actions you must take to meet your goal.
- Compare the first action in your list to the others in sequential order until you find a higher-priority action.
- Replace the first item with the higher-priority action.
- Then, compare the “new” higher-priority action to the rest of the items on your list.
- Repeat this process until you get to the end of your list.
The 80/20 Rule
You’ve likely heard of the 80/20 rule, also called the Pareto Principle. The Pareto Principle asserts that 80% of a goal’s outcome comes from 20% of the actions in its given plan.
Often focusing on 20% of your overall action items is enough to get you 80% to your goal. This is good because you can then use the rest of your time to focus on other high-priority goals.
The Bottom Line
By working smarter and prioritizing your actions, you are more likely to accomplish your goals.
If you’re someone who wants to do it all, we get it, but at the end of the day, it’s better to take action on the items that most benefit your plan, rather than working toward a bunch of tactics that won’t get you any closer to your goal.
Although prioritizing the actions in your plan sounds simple, we understand how complex it can seem when you’re just beginning to set a goal. We suggest grabbing a free copy of The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula to learn this process directly from Arootah’s CEO and founder Rich Bello. It’s a simple, straightforward process designed to support you in systematically achieving your goals.