Goals. A thing that everyone has and/or wants, but not everyone has the drive and determination to achieve them. Simply thinking about accomplishing them can bring a big smile to our faces, but why is this so? Well, the act of setting and achieving goals (no matter how big or small) are one of the things that keeps us going in our everyday lives.
However, no goals ever achieve themselves without proper planning. This is why having an action plan is essential to give you a better and more precise idea of how to accomplish them. Without a well-thought action plan, you might not get the motivation you need to push yourself forward.
So, what exactly is an 'action plan'? An action plan consists of the steps/tasks you need to do to achieve your goals. It’s a document that details all the necessary steps you need to take so think of it like a clear path towards the right direction, then breaks the steps into a more doable process, and helps you reach a specific target according to the timeframe you’ve set.
A well-thought action plan is helpful not only to you as an individual, but also to your organisation. It helps you to stay focused on your career and personal life, while allowing you to monitor every progress you’ve made to get closer to where you ultimately want to be!
To write a good action plan, set SMART (an acronym for 'specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-based') goals. Your goals should not only be well-defined with precise details (specific), it also needs to be measured to keep track of your progress (measurable). In addition, your goals should be ones that can be accomplished (attainable), relevant to your needs, abilities, and interest (relevant), as well as have a clear deadline of what needs to be done (time-based).
Often enough, people mess up accomplishing their goals due to delaying taking any action on the tasks for far too long. This is why setting attainable milestones are a crucial part of your action plan. Take a step back and look at the amount of time you have. Start breaking up your goals into smaller tasks so that you can move towards the end goal efficiently.
However, after breaking the bigger goals into smaller objectives, you need to list them down. The list will help you to know which tasks are more important than the others, so that you can start planning your actions in a step-by-step manner. The list also allows you to check if you’ve missed anything crucial while breaking up the bigger objective. Having this list of actions will ensure that all the objectives are attainable and relevant to your goals.
It would help if you created a schedule to ensure all the smaller objectives are in order. Sometimes, smaller goals may have the same due dates. Hence, it's recommended to create a timeline to smooth out the flow of your progress. Having a schedule helps you keep track of time and rearrange your tasks schedule based on its importance and urgency.
It’s essential to assign the right tasks to the right people. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates helps you make better decisions in assigning your team members’ roles and responsibilities. After assigning the tasks, make sure that everyone is in agreement with their responsibilities in taking charge of an objective. It’s also crucial to list down the resources needed in completing the tasks so that the allocation of your resources for things such as money, equipment, and software/programmes will be carried out perfectly.
Monitoring of progress can be done in different ways, including reading internal reports, holding regular meetings, and more. If we don’t monitor our progress, we might lose track of where we are now and what we’re currently doing. The internal reports and regular meetings give us a clearer picture of the direction we’re heading, which helps us keep track of our progress in attaining our goals.
Considering your talents and expertise are crucial to let you know about your own strengths and weaknesses. Looking at our weaknesses might give us an idea of the areas that we can and need to improve. On the other hand, looking at our strengths lets us know how and where to apply our abilities in completing the tasks. Looking at the overall talents and expertise might also give us the idea of whose help we should seek to strengthen our team in accomplishing the bigger goals.
When we have a bigger goal, it’s almost close to impossible to accomplish it all on our own. One way or another, you have to start seeking help from the right people, and build the right team to reach your goals. Remember the point above about looking at strengths and weaknesses? By doing that, you get to allocate tasks that best suit your strengths, and you’re also able to delegate tasks to other people in the areas you’re weak at.
Success itself is a mindset. This saying has been around the professional world for as long as anyone can remember. Having a positive mindset is the equivalent of surviving the tough challenges you’ll encounter in the path of reaching your goals. And usually, when you’re faced with a storm, it’s relatively easy for you to stay gloomy and give up on your dreams if you didn’t already develop a positive mindset that helps you see the silver lining in every cloud.
Motivation is what drives us to get to where we want to be! Hence, it’s crucial to keep yourself motivated by setting realistic goals that are attainable and relevant to your life. in addition, surround yourself with like-minded people who'll be able to push you out of your comfort zone, and remind you of all the tasks you seek to accomplish. Having meaningful and realistic goals will help encourage you to push forward instead of bringing yourself down.
Holding yourself accountable in every decision you’ve made and for everything you’ve done is part of your responsibilities to accomplish your goals and dreams. However, you don’t have to bear these responsibilities alone. You can always recruit people who have the same end goal to be part of your team and split the duties. The idea of holding yourself accountable is not meant to pull you down, but it’s meant to be a boost to keep yourself on track with your goal.
Constructive feedback is always welcome in order to improve your overall performance in achieving your goals. Limiting your horizon based on what you see alone probably wouldn’t help you much on your journey. Hence, seek and listen to both the good and bad feedbacks given by people whom you trust. This will be served as a tool for you to re-assess your own standards and expectations.
To err is to be human. It’s okay if we make some wrong choices in life, which require us to overhaul the whole plans we’ve made. Change is a constant part of life, and it’s vital for you to be flexible and adaptive when it comes to changes. Don’t get blinded by the smaller objectives, which makes you lose focus on the bigger goals. If changing certain aspects of the plan might lead to a better future, it really is okay to do so.
Every time you’ve accomplished something, even if it’s a small accomplishment, do remember to pat yourself on your shoulders. Remember, your journey towards the end goal is long and hard, and if you don’t take a break once in a while, you’ll be all burnt out before you even know it! So, it’s good to lay back and acknowledge these small accomplishments (with a little reward thrown in too). Doing so might motivate you and your team, which boosts the overall morale of your organisation.
Trust us when we say a goal without a plan is nothing but a wish. As the saying goes, "when you fail to plan, you plan to fail", and that’s just how the real world works. Make sure that first and foremost, your goal is truly attainable and realistic. From there, it's only a matter of planning the right steps that you can take, and it's okay to sit down and reset if ever you hit a roadblock or make a wrong turn.
So, the bottom line is, learning to set SMART goals and developing an action plan does help you to achieve your goals more efficiently without wasting unnecessary resources. Plan ahead what you’re going to do, break it down, and set a realistic timeframe. We wish you the best of luck in your future endeavours, and we hope this guide helps you accomplish what you set out to do!