how to reach your goals
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

What is it that keeps you from achieving your goals? Is it a lack of focus? A lack of motivation? A lack of specific strategies to accomplish those goals? Or is a combination of many things? What separates armchair entrepreneurs from true entrepreneurs and business people is the ability to take regular action on top priority goals.

True entrepreneurs have clearly outlined goals which are backed up by principles refined over time. These principles provide them with guidance on what is important. Defining these principles and outlining these long-term goals come easily to some, but for others it can be a huge challenge. Once these long-term goals have been identified, the challenge becomes how best to tackle the day-to-day tasks and actions that are required to turn dreams into reality.

Sometimes, the hardest part of taking action is the planning that goes into it. Big ideas are sexy and exciting, but day-to-day monotonous tasks are rarely as exciting. Armchair entrepreneurs would rather dream big and assume the hard work that goes into day-to-day activities will just take care of itself. While some people choose to dive into the action without thinking, those who want to really make lasting change and reach their goals must plan ahead.

When people think about something they’d like to accomplish, they tend to focus on the first step. Whether it’s a trip they’d like to go on or a skill they’d like to learn, they usually look at the very first thing that needs to happen without considering the longer term implications.

Try creating an Action Memo to help you connect your long term goals with concrete actions and stay motivated even when you struggle to keep moving forward.

Below is a 4-step action memo which can help you smash your goals instantaneously:

1. Purpose

What do you want to accomplish? Provide background on your current plan and why exactly you want to accomplish a certain goal or take a certain action.

As the author and leadership coach Simon Sinek often reminds us, organisations and individuals need to “start with why” to get to the core of why they really want to be in business or why they want to accomplish a certain task. If you think of this as a miniature business plan, the background should be your executive summary. Ask yourself, why do you want to take action NOW?

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” – Winston S. Churchill

2. Actions

Outline specific actions and tasks. Once you’ve described the background, list out the top 3 to 5 actions that each take under 24 hours to accomplish and which will get you closer to achieving your long-term goal.

This is a core part of the Action Memo, because it provides you with a list of actions which will need to be accomplished in the next several days. Make sure you keep these actions small enough that they can be accomplished in a day. For example, rather than say “write an eBook”, break up the larger task into several small sections. In 24 hours you might be able to create a chapter outline for your book, or contract a designer to help you create a cover.

3. Deadlines

Review your timeline. Ask yourself – when will these actions be done? The second most important part of this Action Memo is the timeline, because it helps keep you on task and forces you to think about which tasks need to be accomplished in which order. Without a timeline and specific deadlines, you will lose motivation and will lack the drive to take urgent action.

Urgent action is the name of the game when it comes to creating a habit for taking action. Write down when each action from stage two will be completed, and then try your best to stick to those deadlines.

“We have to live life with a sense of urgency so not a minute is wasted.” – Les Brown

4. Performance & Accountability

How will you measure performance? How will you define success? What does success look like to you in relation to completing these tasks? If you want to write a new business plan, perhaps finishing a 5-page outline is a sufficient indicator of success. If you want to increase sales in a new product, perhaps emailing 10 new clients and asking them to buy your solution is a good success indicator.

Just as you track performance, be sure to keep yourself accountable. One of the best ways to ensure your continued success over time is to keep yourself accountable by working with others who will check in with you and make sure you’re completing your tasks.

I urge you to reach out to someone via email, text or phone and send them your Action Memo with the dates and deadlines in place. Ask them for their support and wait to hear their response. Write a few sentences here about how you will keep yourself accountable and who you will reach out to.

Whether you’re looking to get more done on a current project, or you’re trying to finally get off your butt and start working on your next side project, I would highly recommend writing out an Action Memo as outlined in the stages above. It’s a great way to provide yourself with a concrete action plan which you can keep going back to for motivation and inspiration as you take steps towards your overarching long-term goals.

Which one of these 4 steps do you need to work on the most? Let us know below so we can help you out!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

2 COMMENTS

  1. McVal, great post, my friend!

    I think what you wrote about actually having the purpose in mind before you start is very important. I’ve blundered quite a bit with this, myself. If you don’t have a strong, initial purpose you probably won’t finish.

    About 5 years ago, my wife and I got our hands on a rehab property. The house was totally trashed out but we got a house and 3 acres for about $25,000. It had been in foreclosure and people had broken into it to take out brass piping in the walls and also used the home as a deer blind for hunting.

    When we took the property over my wife though it would take about 7 years to fix it up. For some reason I got it into my head that I wanted to be into the house and sell the other one we were living in. (That way we could live in a nice house in the country mortgage free!)

    So I set up a huge whiteboard and listed out everything I needed to do to get the house rehabbed. Believe me, that board was cram-packed because the house had a TON of work that had to be completed. Every time I got a major task done, I crossed it off; it really gave my wife and I a sense of accomplishment.

    In about 14 months, we got everything done, sold the house we were living in and moved out into the beautiful country. (I want to mention that we did this while we were both working.)

    Las year, I lost my job of 15+ years. It didn’t bother us much because our cars and home are all paid off! Anyway, if you list out your goals and cross them off, it’ll do wonders in your life.

    Thanks again for the great post McVal!

  2. This is a great action plan. It’s a great tool to focus and I’m always looking to step up my game! Thank you!

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