It’s a weird time of year. I’ve got one eye on Christmas and finishing out the year with friends and family. But I’ve got my other eye on 2016 and all the things I want to accomplish. And if I had a third eye, it would be on the clock, wondering how I am going to get it all done.
The truth is that it won’t get done if I only have a list of goals in a notebook. Goals are tricky because by their very nature, they are usually complicated and take some focused attention and effort. They don’t happen by themselves.
There is lots of great information out there to help us make SMART goals …. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. But once we have settled on some goals for the year, what do we do next? Without a plan to get us to the end, we’ll be setting the exact same goal this time next year. None of us want that, so here are six tips to turn your goals into plans and actions.
1. Identify the Projects Needed to Reach the Goal
What’s a project? It’s anything that requires more than one step, has a schedule, and takes resources (time, money or tools). Reaching your goal will take at least one project and probably more than one.
For example, one of my goals for Do A New Thing is to increase traffic on the blog. Some of the projects that will help me meet that goal are:
- do some guest posts for bigger blogs
- post twice a week instead of once
- collaborate with other bloggers on special events.
Each of those projects has several steps that must be done on time to have the impact I am expecting. They’ll take up lots of my time and I may need to spend some money or acquire new tools to complete the projects.
2. Do a thoughtful evaluation of each project idea
It’s easy to throw things on a to-do list and just dive in, doing stuff. But, please. Resist that urge! Evaluating each project idea will clearly identify ones that move you towards your goal AND support your overall mission.
By evaluating each idea, you may find you don’t have the resources needed to complete that project this year. It may require you to lose focus on your real calling and turn into a distraction for your ministry instead of a benefit. You’ll need to revisit the goal and see what other projects can help you get there.
One thing that may help increase my blog traffic would be to host a linkup. But that’s a lot of work, promoting and monitoring and it doesn’t directly contribute to the mission of helping my readers be more effective in their ministries and businesses. So I’ve crossed that one off my list.
3. Capture all the steps for each project
This may take a some research if it’s not something you know how to do. Each step should stand on it’s own, without a lot of “sub-steps” under it.
For me to start posting twice a week, some of my steps are to settle on better editorial calendar, come up with a list of post ideas, research what needs my audience has, and pre-write a backlog of posts.
4. Be realistic about the schedule
Know how long it will take to complete each step. And be prepared that it is going to take you longer than you think it will.
Assign a time frame or date for each step, and be sure you have them in the right order.
5. Understand the resources needed
This is where many projects fall apart. Lots of things can be done with good instructions and some elbow grease. But there are some things that require specific expertise that you just don’t have and don’t have the ability to obtain.
That’s when you need to call in an expert for help. It might be a graphic designer to make a new header for your website. It could be an online course to teach you a skill you need.
It even could be a project manager to help you pull all the pieces together and keep you on track! (Good thing you know one of those! Ha ha!)
Your project will need a budget that supports the resources you need.
6. Make the plan
Once you’ve identified the steps, the timing and the resources, it’s an easy last step to create a final checklist of actions to complete. Make a separate checklist for each of your projects, then each week, you can review your checklists and put the next actions you need to take on your calendar for the week.
So there you go! Those big goals won’t get done by themselves. But you’ll be much more likely to reach them if you have a specific action plan that is easy to keep track of and has the resources to support them.
What goals do you have for 2016? Have you created a specific plan to get there?