Okay, that was a trick question, because if you’re like most people, you probably haven’t really solidified goals so that you can just reel them off when someone asks. And that’s the first thing you have to do in order to reach your goals.
This is not some nebulous, “Think of it and you will have it” kind of thing. It’s more like Yogi Berra’s sage advice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” It’s a matter of focus. If you know your goals, then you know what to focus on every day in order to move toward your goals. You can avoid chasing after shiny objects and distractions that look good but won’t move you toward your goals. You can pursue opportunities that move you toward your goals, and pass on those that do not.
Identify your goals, and write them down. You’ve heard this over and over. And there’s a reason for that. It works. But when you write your goals down, your mind, conscious as well as subconscious, realizes that you’re serious, and you start to see opportunities and to focus more consciously on things that will move you toward your goals.
Once you’ve identified your goals and written them down, put a date on them. Don’t worry that you might not meet your deadline. If you miss your initial target, you can set a new deadline and keep going. Bryan Tracy, the foremost expert on goals, says that a goal that isn’t written down is a wish. If you do not have a deadline, you’re just thinking about doing it; you’re not truly committed. The deadline seals the deal.
Now that you’re fully committed, once you’ve written your goals down and set deadlines, make a strategic plan. What will it take to reach your goal? Write out every step it would take to reach your goal by the date that you want to reach it. For instance, one of my goals is to sell 10,000 copies of my program Procrastinate Later in 2011. There are several steps in my plan to do that. One is to partner with 20 marketers who will promote the program to their lists. So that’s one step. Another is to build a list of 1,000 people within 100 days. That’s another step. At this point, don’t worry about how you’re going to do these steps; just identify the individual steps. I’m going to publish 100 articles in 100 days on EzineArticles.com, for instance. That’s another step.
Once you’ve listed the steps to reach your goal, expand each step with the actions that it will take to implement those steps. This planning process will take a while, and you don’t necessarily have to fully flesh out each step all at once. Some steps may not come into play for a while. The important thing is that you get started immediately on this process.
For each step, list the actions that you will have to take to make this step a reality. For instance, I want to publish 100 articles in 100 days on EzineArticles.com. Obviously, I am going to have to write at least one article per day, and publish one article per day on EzineArticles.com. Since I’m a prolific writer, and a Platinum Author on EzineArticles.com, this shouldn’t be a problem. I also want to partner with 20 marketers and have them promote my program to their lists. First, I need to identify potential marketing partners. Then I need to approach these people with a brief email asking them if they would please consider promoting my program. If they agree to look at it, I need to send them a download link, and if they agree to promote it, I need to give them everything they need to promote the program. So all of that goes in my action plan.
The next step is, in my opinion, really the key. This is what helped me turn all of this from just theory into a working model that helps me get enormous amounts of work done and reach my goals.
Take your action plan and turn it into a schedule, a calendar. Break this calendar down into two-week periods, and list everything, on all of your projects and goals, that needs to be done in that two-week period. Just list everything. You can prioritize it as you get ready to work on it, but get it on the calendar for the period it needs to be done. Some things are recurring; put them in every time period. Some things need to be done at particular times. Just get it all in perspective, time-wise.
If you do all of this, you will have a very hard time not reaching your goals. In fact, if you don’t want to reach your goals, you need to avoid this process, because it will absolutely work.
Photo credit by barunpatro.