Goal Setting Tip – Do You Have A Solid Plan Of Action?

Goal Setting and Planning – Steps to Success — Guest Author – Kenneth Wallin

I was sitting around the home office this afternoon, and I got to thinking about goal setting. I wonder why more folks don’t set goals? That was my internal question for the day. And some thoughts surfaced, and I wanted to share some of these thoughts with you. Plus, I will also take a few moments to write about a phenomenal goal setting technique that every leader ought to use.

Perhaps the reason most folks don’t set goals is they just honestly don’t know how. So, let’s think about that for a bit. Setting goals is a step oriented process. (Yep, it really is a 1 … 2 … 3 … process.) In fact we can reduce it to a few simple steps just to make it easy and something any leader can do right away.

Step one is the hardest step in the whole goal setting process. Whether you are a team leader, or you are just setting personal goals for your own life, you must have some idea of the outcome you seek. There is a common little ditty that describes this step, and it goes like this, “A fellow goes to the airport and gets in line at the ticket counter. He gets to the front of the line and says to the Agent, ‘I want to buy a ticket.’ The Agent asks, ‘Where would you like to go, Sir?’ The fellow replies, ‘I don’t know, I just want to buy a ticket.'”

Now, you ask, what does this mean? Simply put, you cannot buy a ticket (set a goal) until you have decided where you are going (an outcome).

So, first you figure out the outcome you desire to accomplish. It may be something like, start a business, or buy a car, or set up a Forex trading account. Whatever that final outcome you want to have happen is the first thing you must decide. (You’re not done yet.) Having done that step you must get going on the next step.

Step two is a bit easier, but not simple. You must determine the timetable for reaching your goal. It is important to do this, so you can understand the level of effort you must commit to accomplishing the goal. (While we are thinking about it, you do understand the outcome goal is supported by both short term and intermediate term goals, don’t you?

Short term goals are the activities you must accomplish right away either because they are foundational for your outcome goal, or they are easier and will establish progress for the team. Intermediate goals are those that require foundation to accomplish, or are probably going to take more time to accomplish.)

If you are thinking of trying to get a business started within the next quarter, you will need to think about a lot more time and resource investment to realize the outcome you seek. If you are thinking about a getting that business going by the end of next year, well, you can plan for less stress on your time and wallet as you set about the process. (It may amount to the same resource investment in the end, but will be less incrementally on your wallet if you have more time to accomplish the outcome.)

Step three is the committing of the process to writing. (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) You can do this by setting up a formal business plan, or just writing some of the activities you need to accomplish either in the short term, or later (those are intermediate goals) on a pad of paper (for now).

I am a big supporter of starting with a pad of paper and writing out with my pencil (not a pen) some of the things I need to do to get there. For purposes of discussion let’s say you are opening a business, and here are some questions you might need to answer.

Is it a virtual (on the Internet), or is it a bricks & mortar (in the real world) business? What are your products, and where will they come from? Will there be a team of employees needed, or is this a one-person home-based business? As you can tell, this is not hard, it is however detailed. Just think through the “things” needed, and then prioritize them according to whether you need them now, or later.

Step four is pretty simple. Formalize the whole thing into a plan. I like to use Microsoft Project for this step as Microsoft Project has some really good templates you can use to build your plan.

Now, you do not have to use this application, but whatever tool you choose make sure you have these elements included; Initiation, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.

Initiating is, simply put, determining what the outcome is, whether a team is needed, and when the process will begin.

Planning is the critical step of figuring out all the short term, intermediate, and coordinating goals (activities) necessary to reach the outcome, and committing that whole set of activities to writing,

Executing is the step where you (and the team if you have one) go get the whole thing going.

Controlling is keeping track of what is getting done, and what is going not so well (and letting the team know, as necessary).

Closing is the step where you let everyone know the outcome has been reached (and make a written report, if required).

Here is the most important thing I can tell you … and I want you to pay close attention to this … PRESS GO when you get the plan developed.

What this means is simply this. When you have gotten your goal established and a plan of action developed to accomplish the goal … start moving, execute, JUST DO IT.

So many of my clients have a weakness, they cannot just step out, and start work on getting going on a project. So, have a Kickoff Meeting (set a date for it, and put that date in your plan), then push the accelerator, and get going. If you don’t start moving on your plan, you will never reach the goal. Do this one thing, and you will have so much more success.

In an upcoming article I will be discussing Stretch Goals, their construction, importance, and all about this neat “secret” to building really effective teams. I hope you will be looking for this article, it will be another valuable skill you can put to use. (It is not a big secret, it just seems a lot of leaders don’t use it to full effect and I want to change that.)

Ken Wallin is a retired US Army Officer, and a Senior Project Management Professional. He has more than 35 years leading in both military and consulting positions. He currently is working on his PhD in Business Administration specializing in International Business at Northcentral University. Ken writes about management, leadership, and team building.

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