I am always speaking and writing about the importance of planning particularly in terms of marketing. This is the time of year when we make our plans and personal resolutions.
Forget about New Year’s resolutions. Think about your goals and how you are going to achieve them. With goals in mind it is now time to take action. Create an action plan for the days remaining in 2015 and for the year ahead. This will be your road map for achieving your goals. Remember actions do speak louder than words.
We have all heard this axiom before. It comes to mind when I am planning and coordinating with clients who are working toward goals. It is wise to have goals but action is necessary to achieve them.
So how do you go about achieving your goals and creating action steps? After you have set your goals, ask yourself if they are realistic and achievable. You must recognize that it may take months, or even years to reach one or more of your major goals. Think of all of those people who appear to be overnight successes. The fact is that for most it took years to reach their goals and dreams.
First, start with goals for different aspects of your life:
Second, write (or type) down these goals – I am not the first person to recommend this. But it does work. Keep your goals top of mind. Your goals can be long, short or – like me – bullet pointed.
Remember, it is important to be reminded of your goals – post them where it is impossible to miss seeing them (or hearing them) regularly, such as:
- Create a graphic and make it the opening screen of your Smartphone
- Send yourself a daily pre-programmed text or email
- Print a list of goals and tape it to the edge or top of you monitor or phone
- Record your goals as a voice mail message or memo that you can play back on your phone, listen to on your way to work every day and on weekends
Again, your goals must be achievable. If not, use the divide and conquer method:
- Take one day/step at a time – every step may involve multiple actions.
- Write your goals down even if the list is very long.
- Consider it a learning process that can be repeated when working on other actions or goals
- Accept the fact that it could take years to achieve certain goals, take pride in smaller accomplishments on a weekly or monthly basis.
How do you create an action plan?
Start by writing out the specific actions that must be taken to achieve each one of your goals. This could take considerable time and the list will likely be lengthy. The more detailed the list of actions, the better. Many small actions combined lead to major achievements. Think of this like a marathon runner. The runner practices for months, running a few miles, then further every day. They build up the stamina and endurance to run the full marathon. But even on marathon day, each mile completed is a step toward the ultimate goal.
Click here for a video of my tips for creating an action plan for yourself for 2016.
An action plan takes thought and you need to ask yourself a number of questions:
Write down and determine the answers to these questions:
- What do I need to achieve my goal?
- How much time do I need?
- How much money do I need?
- Can I do it myself or do I need a team? (Who would be on the team?)
- What support do I need?
- What knowledge do I need to have or need to acquire?
- Who can I ask for help or advice?
- Where and when do I start?
Remember, just as actions need to be examined separately, you will want to treat each questions the same way.
Don’t be reluctant or afraid to ask for help from friends, family, mentors, and coaches. You might even post your questions online.
Go to free or paid resources such as podcasts, books, seminars, online webinars or courses/classes.
If you are asking yourself, “How can I complete each step or task and then move to the next?” Here is a helpful example:
A consultant determines his goal for 2016 is to increase his income by $50,000.
The consultant could use the following process:
1) Create a marketing plan
- Identify the target market
- Create a list
- Create email blast and content
- Create a letter or sell sheet
- Create a schedule for sending marketing material out
- Create a follow up process
- Create online assets and web content
2) Create relevant promotional content
3) Develop a budget for how much money to spend
4) Decide a budget for how much time to devote
5) Develop a timeline or schedule for executing actions
6) Identify experts or friends who could review the plan and or provide advice
7) Create a tracking system for progress and assessment of efforts
Remember, each action contains a series of steps and involves work that must be completed in order to move ahead and continue on the pathway that will enable you to ultimately achieve your goals.
When you have completed your action plan, go over it again and ask others to review it before you take action. They may be able to spot something that you have missed or offer a more effective approach.
Many people wait until New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day or the first work day of the New Year to reflect on the past and make sincere and purposeful resolutions. Don’t procrastinate define your goals for the future today and start on your action plan now. The head start is worth the effort.
By Bill Corbett