All it takes is a change of season or a milestone in your life to realize time has sped by and you haven’t achieved the things you dreamed of. There’s only one reason for that – there was no actionable plan in place.
You know the old saying: if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.
So first of all, you need a plan, which will become your blueprint for action, your roadmap of how to get there. And it needs to be practical and easily broken down into achievable chunks.
Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, said someone who moves by guesswork is like a ship without a rudder and that getting somewhere is only possible with a definite plan, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.
1) Take a day or half day and go off by yourself. Write it all down. What is the goal — a new job, writing a book, making more money, returning to school? Why do you want this? Is it aligned with your unique gifts and talents? Is it enough of a passion to keep you there for the long haul? Watch any good movie and you’ll see the main character always wants something so badly they are willing to do anything to get it. Your goals should be like that, too.
2) Write down the previous times you’ve made plans, identify how you got off track, and calculate how to avoid in future.
3) Work backwards – who will be the recipient of this goal and how will it benefit them? Will it satisfy your need to make an income?
4) Break it down into yearly and monthly plans. Work backwards to where you need to be each step of the way to attain that goal. Carve the work into major milestones, and then break it down more into what you need to achieve in the next year, month, week, and day. Each day write in your notebook or agenda what you need to do in order of importance.
5) Identify the things you must say yes to and the things you need to say no to in order to achieve your goals. If your goal is to build a profitable business, then spend your free time reading about other successful entrepreneurs and their habits rather than watch TV or movies.
6) Avoid distractions. If this is hard for you, then turn off the ringer on your phone and make sure your social media platforms are not up on your computer screen at all times, set email to offline, or go the library to work. Choose two or three times a day to check email – constant checking kills productivity.
7) Multi-tasking is your enemy – statistically changing tasks several times a day drops your IQ by anywhere from 5-15 points, depending on your gender (Women’s drop five points, men’s 15 points, by the way.)
8) Remember that perfect is the enemy of good. Most of us overthink our goals, and figure we’ll execute plans when they are perfected. But as General Patton once said, “a good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”