Can you imagine trying to build a skyscraper without any plans? Just like you need blueprints to build a new building, you need a clear plan of action to accomplish the goals you set for yourself.
Developing a clearly defined set of actions at the start line gives you the roadmap you need to make it to the finish line. Today we’re covering the importance of actions in achieving your goals as part of our 10-part series on goal setting.
In this series, we’re teaching you how to join the minority of people who actually achieve the goals they set. In each of these articles, we explore how to clarify, define, and set your highest-impact goals and develop a master plan to achieve them.
Before diving in here, you’ll want to read the most recent text in our series, In Working Toward a Goal: How Do You Identify a Purpose Statement? Or, if you want to fully brush up on best practices for goal setting, we suggest starting with the first article on getting clarity on your mission.
As with any goal strategy, you can use the tactics we’re talking about for any goal, whether it’s personal, professional, or business.
Now, onto the first lesson in creating your plan of action: Write it down!
The Benefits of a Having a Documented Plan
Tactics take time and we should only use them if they prove effective in the long run. Writing down your plan of action requires a time commitment, for example, but you’ll get a high return on that time if you commit to the process.
Let’s explore the benefits of documenting your plan by writing it all down:
- Probability: For one thing, researchers have demonstrated that the simple act of writing down a goal has been shown to increase your probability of achieving it by 42%. That’s without any additional effort made! This can lead to exponential increases in success.
- Proactive behavior: When you never have to think about what to do next, you can take action more easily and act before you absolutely need to in order to get ahead of obstacles. In other words, planning ahead can make you more proactive.
- Creativity: Creativity provides us with the fuel we need to meet many of our most meaningful goals, and you need creative energy to brainstorm the actions you’ll want to include in your plan.
- Focus: Keeping a set plan of action allows you to stay focused on your pursuit of a goal. Since you’ll always know what you need to be working on, it becomes easier to overcome distractions on the way to your goal.
- Teamwork: If you’re working on a personal goal, you can enlist other people in your plan to support you with motivation and expertise. If the goal is something you’re working on as a group, such as a business or team goal, having a documented plan will help you foster teamwork.
- Conservation of resources: When establishing a set plan of actions, you’ll also need to think about how to most efficiently allocate the resources available to you. Sure, you can accomplish any plan with unlimited resources, but that’s likely not the case for your goal. Your time, money, people, and knowledge are all limited. Planning helps you to carefully consider your resources before you take action.
Determining What Actions to Add to Your Plan
At its core, the structure of any plan is simple: It comprises a series of actions that can make or break your plan.
While developing your strategy, you need to decide which actions will be the most impactful and how they’ll propel you towards your goal. Here’s what you need to consider when deciding which actions will have the highest impact on your goals:
- Are they efficient? To make the best use of your resources, you need to determine the best use for them. You likely can’t afford to squander resources like time and energy.
- Are they effective? There’s no point in doing something that won’t make a difference. Make sure each action you include in your plan has a direct effect on the progress you make toward your goals.
Holding an Effective Brainstorming Session
Brainstorming the actions you need to take to meet your goals can be one of the most fun and creative parts of goal setting. Here’s our tried-and-true process for brainstorming at Arootah:
- Generate ideas: List the potential actions you can take to achieve your goal. Be generous here and write down anything that comes to mind. You’re seeking quantity over quality at this stage.
- Focus on quantity: Part of the creative process is not judging what you’re writing down as you brainstorm. You want to go for a high number of possible actions here (we’ll focus on quality later).
- Leverage your resources: If you get stuck, take stock of your resources to help you generate action items. This process could include sending an email to colleagues in your network to ask their advice, attending a relevant seminar, or taking advantage of a related program. These are all potential resources you can use to generate actions that may help you meet your goals.
- Get inspired: Before you create your purpose statement, get inspired! The purpose statement encompasses the inspiration you’ll use for motivation when working toward your goal.
- Set a limit of 10: Your plan should contain up to 10 action items, tops. This number allows you to stretch and challenge yourself, without becoming discouraged or distracted.
- Make it official: Most importantly, write down your plan! After you’ve come up with your 10 most efficient and effective action items and documented them officially, your plan is complete.
The Bottom Line
No goal will come to fruition without an action plan, so be purposeful and strategic with the tactics you put into it.
Documenting these action items will help you set yourself up for success when it comes to achieving your goals. It’s a simple step that will make you feel more motivated and confident.
Bonus: This exercise can be done in just 10 minutes!
If you’re seeking a more hands-on approach to your goal-setting activities, learn this process directly from Arootah’s CEO and founder Rich Bello by downloading Bello’s free playbook, The 10 Step Arootah Success Formula. It’s a simple, straightforward process designed to support you in systematically achieving your goals.