Why Goal Planning Is So Important?
Achieving goals requires planning.
A plan is like a map. When following a plan, you can always see how much you have progressed towards your goal and how far you are from your destination. Knowing where you are is essential for making good decisions on where to go or what to do next.
One more reason why you need planning is again the 80/20 Rule. It is well established that for unstructured activities 80 percent of the effort give less than 20 percent of the valuable outcome. You either spend much time on deciding what to do next, or you are taking many unnecessary, unfocused, and inefficient steps.
Planning is also crucial for meeting your needs during each action step with your time, money, or other resources. With careful planning you often can see if at some point you are likely to face a problem. It is much easier to adjust your plan to avoid or smoothen a coming crisis, rather than to deal with the crisis when it comes unexpected.
Step 1. Develop Major Goals.
Ask yourself: “What steps do I need to take to….?”
These steps will be your major goals.
Write each major goal on it’s own sheet of paper. Each goal needs to be specific and there should be some way of telling when you have reached the goal. If you set up a goal of “being rich” or “being organized” you may never know when you have arrived. Decide on a few long-term specific goals and write them down. You may also have a few short-term goals. Write those down also.
Major goals can be specific or broad in scope, but they must always lead directly towards the Objective they support. They must also always have a deadline. A date you plan to accomplish the major goal by, a realistic date that not only motivates you into action but also ensures progress towards your Objective.
Usually you will have many major goals at a time, and in the case of a real long- term Objective, some of the major goals will not be clear at the start, with others coming about when certain existing major goals are achieved.
Step 2. Develop Tasks.
Tasks are usually the simple things you must do to accomplish a major goal.
Break each of those goals down into single activities that will get you to that goal. Be painfully specific. Each step should be something you can actually complete before going on to something else. What will you have to do? Where will you have to go? Who will you have to consult? Write those down.
If you’ve set a major goal, for example, to have a complete understanding about investing in bonds by next June 15th, you will have to accomplish a number of Tasks for acquiring that knowledge.
Choosing to go to the library and get a book on bonds would be a Task.
Reading the book for one hour each this Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, could be three separate Tasks.
Calling your buddy who’s had success in the bond market would be a Task as well.
All of these Tasks, which should be written down on the same paper as the major goal they support, must be set with a deadline, for if you procrastinate calling your buddy, never get around to completely reading the book, or don’t even bother checking the website, you won’t reach your major goal of learning about bonds, or won’t meet it by its Accomplishment Date.
By focusing your mind on the easy-to-accomplish Tasks, and completing those Tasks, you’ll be making great progress towards your major goals and objectives without feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes it is easy to see the steps it will take to reach a goal, other times you really have to work it out. Some goals will have obvious steps that you can list and the results are guaranteed. Other goals may be more complicated. You don’t always control everything that goes into some of your goals, so make allowances for that and move ahead Be prepared to change some of the steps as you go along-but don’t put off starting until you can be sure of the outcome. You want to be acting on your goals, not waiting.
Now get out your calendar or planner and list each of those steps at a specific time on a specific day. That’s the key. It doesn’t help to know what you have to do until you actually take the time to do it. It is easy to say “I’ll do it tomorrow” when you don’t have a schedule planned, but if you know you have to do step one today so you can do step two tomorrow-it’s a lot harder to procrastinate. It also helps to know that by taking each of the steps in turn you will eventually reach your goal. The first step might be to spend some serious time-after this original planning session-planning each of the steps in more detail and looking at how they fit into your schedule. This step might include looking up phone numbers, addresses, prices, and other information you need to make your plan work.
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Okay, so here’s the tricky part. Take the first step. You are that much closer to your goal. Now try the second step. Mark off each step on that original list as you complete it to keep track of your progress. Work at your own pace and in your own way. If you are the type of person who can stick to one task until it is done, try working on only one or two goals at a time. If you are the more easily sidetracked type, plan from the start to move quickly from one goal to another until all of the goals are done.