Making a Plan to Accomplish Your Goals
We all have dreams, hopes, wants and desires. But to turn these into a reality it’s imperative to take specific steps and actions. As the saying goes: “ A dream without a plan is just a wish”.
Making a plan to accomplish your goals is not only smart, it’s necessary. You most likely will not accomplish your goal overnight, it might not even happen in a year; but if you create a plan and work at it a little bit each day it will eventually come to fruition. Here are key steps to take when planning out how to accomplish your goal. I accompany each step with a real example from my life!
Step 1: What is your goal?
Okay, so first you need to have a goal! Ask yourself: What is it that you want? What are you trying to change or do differently? For me, I knew I was unhappy in my job as a market researcher. I wanted to work in the health and fitness industry. My goal became making a career change to be in health and fitness.
Step 2: Research
This is arguably the most important step. Often times people decide on a goal and just go for it without truly investigating their goal. Without research, how do you know this is actually what you want? The goal might sound amazing in your head and we romanticize what it would be like if we accomplished the goal, but we don't think about all the work that needs to be done first. Researching your goal sets you up for success. This is how you learn the best path for you to attain your goal. I had decided I wanted to change my career to be in health and fitness. This is a HUGE industry, so I needed to narrow it down. I did a lot of soul searching and came to the realization that I love working with people, being active is my passion and I’m fascinated with the human body. I decided I wanted to help people with their nutrition to properly fuel their body so they can live their healthiest lifestyle. I did over a year of research on what the options are to accomplish my goal. I talked to people in the industry who had jobs I thought I was interested in, I looked up programs online and I volunteered to get experience. Finally I was able to narrow down what I wanted and decided the best way for me to accomplish my goal was to become a Registered Dietitian.
Step 3: Create The Plan
Now you create the plan! You have your goal and you’ve done the research to feel confident that this is a good goal for you, so it’s time to create steps for turning the goal into reality. When creating a plan I suggest having a tentative deadline for when you ideally want this goal to be accomplished. Be realistic with your deadline, you want to set yourself up for success. We’ll talk more about this in step 5. Next, make a list of everything you need to do. You’ll know what needs to be on this list because of your research. I can almost certainly guarantee that the list will evolve as you begin to take action toward your goal and that’s okay! As you gain more knowledge on this journey you’ll become better informed for successfully reaching your goal. In my example, I now knew I wanted to become a Registered Dietitian. From my research I learned that I would have to go back to school to take science classes and get my Master’s of Nutrition. After school I would need to complete a 1-year internship program and then I would finally be eligible to sit for a national licensing exam. My plan started with picking which schools I wanted to apply to, filling out the applications, deciding which one to attend and beginning the program. I’m currently in school now working toward my goal! The rest of my plan includes completing my schooling, gaining experience in the industry, applying for and finishing the 1- year internship, passing the exam and landing a job in this new career path.
Step 4: Set Check-Ins
While working toward your goal you need to hold yourself accountable. Life often gets in the way and we easily get sidetracked. To avoid this, set check-ins so you can see the progress your making toward your goal. An easy way to do this is to add a few reminders in your phone calendar (or another calendar that works for you) that will pop-up and alert you to check-in on the headway you’ve been making. I recommend creating weekly check-ins so that you are constantly moving forward. When I was applying to schools I needed to be working on applications every week, especially since there were deadlines. Having a reoccurring reminder ensured I stayed on top of the applications and made progress toward my goal.
Step 5: Be Flexible
Not everything will go as planned; plain and simple. Sometimes we create a plan, the stars align and it works out perfectly. Other times, well, not so much. Being flexible as you work toward your goal will allow you to succeed and stay positive. In step 3 you created your plan and you set tentative deadlines; these deadlines are tentative for a reason. Obstacles will get in the way and you won’t be able to finish something when you originally planned. It’s all part of the process! Accepting that your plan will need adjustments only helps to keep you on track and allows you to work toward your goal while maintaining determination. Back to my example, I needed to apply to schools and work on the applications. At the same time I was also working as a fitness instructor, building my website and brand, juggling seeing friends and expanding my network and of course trying to fit in time for myself to relax and work out. It’s not easy and I did not always get to my school applications like I wanted. But by being flexible I was able to accomplish my goal and not be too hard on myself.
Step 6: Stay Motivated
Throughout this whole process motivation is key. There will be set backs, hard times and unexpected hurdles. You might start to question if this is really what you want and if it’s worth all the effort and time. Keep reflecting to make sure this is still the goal you want—only you can answer that for yourself. If the answer is yes, remind yourself why you started in the first place and why this goal is important to you. Write down the reasons this goal is significant and keep them somewhere visible. Seeing these reminders everyday will keep you grounded and driven. No matter your goal, big or small, you’re worth the time and the investment in yourself. So go for what you want and don't let any one or any thing get in your way!