Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish, a hope likely to fail and impossible to attain. Give passionate dreaming a structure, and reality moves to the tips of your fingers faster than you can click your heels and say, ‘there’s no dream like mine.'”
So you’ve finally taken the time to figure out your dreams and turn those dreams into the very specific goals. Now it’s time to turn them into a plan! Your task is to keep calm and shape your goals into an actionable plan.
Spoiler: this is where you’ll meet a real challenge and begin to feel the real doubts about your ability to achieve these goals.
Step by Step
The idea is to break down your goal into smaller goals with actionable steps. Answering a few specific questions will help you:
- When do you want to achieve your goal?
- What are the actions you need to take?
- What actions will you take on a daily basis?
- How will you measure those actions?
- How often will you measure those actions?
- How can you keep yourself accountable?
- Are there any rewards you can give yourself along the way?
Let’s say you want to start a business blog. Get started by answering those questions, then set up the tools you’ll need to track your progress. Like Google calendar, or anything of the kind. Set up a to-do list that breaks your action plan into daily and weekly increments — action items that represent some sort of forward motion.
If a step in your action plan doesn’t produce action, take it out.
Making a Plan of Action
A good action plan is simple, specific, incremental, and effective. Let’s take business blogging or freelancer’s blogging as an example. You can set up daily, weekly and monthly goals. I’ve found some awesome checklists on the topic here & here. These bloggers checklists are just perfect for creating a plan of action:
- Review your day’s “to do” list and craft a plan of attack.
- Brainstorm and outline a blog post idea or work on writing a post.
- Create and pin original content to Pinterest.
- Pin or repin content from other people that is of interest to my audience.
- Tweet a post from my blog.
- Tweet or retweet useful content from other people.
- Follow/tweet one new person who is an ideal reader of my blog.
- Update my Google+ and Facebook pages with original or useful content.
- Post useful content to my LinkedIn, Instagram, and any other accounts.
- Respond to comments on my blog and social media accounts.
- Respond to email inquiries or comments. Reply with some free tips.
- Prepare any images or text for tomorrow’s social media promotions.
- Edit and schedule any blog post(s) being published tomorrow.
- Record any income or expenses in a spreadsheet or accounting software.
- Review my day and reflect on positive accomplishments.
- Set my schedule and “to do” list for tomorrow.
- Clean my email inbox. Make sure I’ve responded to all readers.
- Check my website analytics for any important changes or statistics.
- Review my blog for any pages or images I need to tweak.
- Verify that all income and expenses for the week are recorded.
- Check business bank accounts and affiliate account balances for accuracy.
- Send or re-send any invoices for blog ad space or freelance work.
- Record any mileage I drove for my blog business this week. [tax deduction, and it’s major y’all]
- Start promoting, or continue to promote, any major upcoming events/items.
- Plan, or continue to develop, any promotions, giveaways, or special features for next week and next month.
- Plan and write content or create images and products for my email list.
- Schedule/queue key social media updates for next week.
- Research and read other sources in my niche.
- Research or read articles that will help me grow as a blogger.
- Think of one new way to promote my blog and brand next week.
- Set a posting schedule for next week on my editorial calendar.
- Review my week and reflect on positive accomplishments.
- Set blog goals and schedule related tasks for next week.
- Audit/clean my blog of old posts that don’t fit my audience or brand anymore.
- Audit/clean my blog of any links that don’t work.
- Audit my blog for any old posts that should link to newer posts or affiliate accounts. Only add links that are relevant and valuable to my readers.
- Print a monthly web traffic report to track changes and set new blog growth goals.
- Review any popular posts to see if they make a good fit for a series.
- Change blog ads, banners, or promotional images as necessary.
- Set a guest posting plan for next month and contact applicable people.
- Read through and modify my blog business plan.
- Restock all office supplies and/or get myself a treat for blogging so hard this month.
- Review the month’s budget and income to make sure I’m on track.
- Pay all monthly expenses and set a budget for next month.
- Set aside a percent of any income for tax and savings purposes.
- Plan and continue to develop any promotions, giveaways, or special features for next month.
- Solicit feedback as necessary (once every few months) from readers and clients on ways to provide the utmost value from my blog and business.
- Plan a surprise or unexpected gesture of kindness for at least one reader or customer.
- Set my editorial calendar for next month.
- Reflect on my month and any positive accomplishments.
- Set blog, brand, and business goals for next month.
And don’t forget about rewards! Reward yourself every time you have positive accomplishments.
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
The thing you need to realize about reaching a goal is that you’re most likely changing a habits along the way. You’re also likely completely changing something about yourself or your circumstances. These things take time, so you need to approach your goals like you’re training for a marathon.
Think big and dream big!