Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.
Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog
A Plan is a form of positive action. Though it can feel overwhelming in the beginning if you’re unfamiliar with what you’re planning, push through. You can do it. And when you do, you’ll see your productivity rise and stress reduce.
Get Started: Let Stream of Consciousness Lead
Start by writing about everything that is causing you stress. Put everything that comes to mind down on paper; stream of consciousness style. Don’t stop writing until you feel you’ve gotten everything out, and have given a full description of the situation of concern. This is your process. What you write need not be seen by anyone, so have at it. The less you hold back, the more creative solutions will present themselves.
Walk away for a while
Stay away and clear your mind for a minimum of 10-15 minutes. When you return, you’ll organize and prioritize your thoughts, making steps to achieve each.
Return to your list
Identify what you can do yourself, what you can delegate, what you don’t have enough information about, and what you might need professional help with. Prioritize what you think needs doing sooner than later, what is more important and less so. Don’t concern yourself with how achievable the plan is in the short run. Just make your plan.
Now take each priority and break it down. Write out as many steps as necessary to achieve each priority of your plan. Don’t feel like it all needs to get done in one sitting now. Gather all the information you need, for as-long-as it takes.
Check to see if your resulting list conforms to a SMART goal formula; Specific, can be Measured tangibly, are Attainable (don’t involve time travel for instance), are Realistic (without limiting imagination), and have a Timeframe for completion (so you can be accountable to your self). Then take the extra step of identifying someone you can share your goals with who is non-judgmental, yet strong about helping you stay on track.
Caution: If whatever is triggering stress is urgent, safely address those immediate concerns. You can start by contacting me for help. If you have a mental health emergency, seek professional help immediately.
Act and Let it Go
Just the process of organizing your thoughts and putting them down on paper gives your plan a higher chance of succeeding. People who check in with friends or a coach regularly increase their chances significantly (see below). Make a written plan and you can feel comforted by the fact that you’re significantly increasing your chance of success. Then, simply allow the plan to be. Soon you find that people come into your life that will assist you down the path you wish to follow.
Celebrate Your Success
Celebrating success is an important step that many miss. When you celebrate, your sending a positive message to your self that reinforces confidence for the road ahead. If you leave that part out, living as if your hard work counts for nothing, you are reinforcing feelings of worthlessness or futility. So make certain that you include celebration as part of your plan. Decide in advance what you will do for your self once you reach your destination.
Still Have Doubts About the Value of Written Plans?
In 2007, Dr. Gail Matthews at Dominican University in California did a study of students who tracked goal achievement comparing groups who wrote down their goals to those who didn’t. There was a 42% increase in goal achievement when a written plan is in place. That rises to an amazing 78% increase when regular accountability is part of the effort.
When and Where to Get Help with Plans
Not everyone is great at making plans. There are many pitfalls and personal challenges that can seem to stand in the way. For instance, some do better achieving goals only when there’s some accountability in the mix. Whether you’re looking for assisting pulling the pieces of your plan together, or could use an accountability partner for a plan you have in place, contact me. As a 5th Degree Black Belt, I’m qualified to do both.