“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Whether you intend to grow revenue, improve your professional relationships, or gain knowledge in your field, one thing is for sure: planning is paramount. Without it, your desire will exist as nothing more than just that—a desire.
Would you chart the Atlantic Ocean on a sailboat without planning your route, equipment and provisions? You wouldn’t if you want to make it across. Individual and collective goals in the workplace are no different. Without a plan, both the vision and the action are without direction.
To avoid becoming stranded in the middle of the figurative ocean this year, apply the following tips to help steer the course of your goals.
Write it Down
Until you write something down, it exists in the cluttered recesses of your mind. And according to research, writing down your goals will make you far more likely to achieve them.
“Writing things down” could simply mean writing a bulleted list by hand, depending on the scope and complexity of your goals. For multiple goals that contain a lot of moving parts, a mind map or interactive calendar can help you keep all your ducks in a row.
Getting things down on paper (virtual or otherwise) is especially important for company-wide business goals that require participation from the entire company. In addition to company-wide meetings and emails, consider a whiteboard or similar place in the office where goals can be displayed prominently as a daily reminder.
For individual goals, try writing them down and keeping them in a place where you’ll see them every day, like near your computer monitor.
Plan the Necessary Conversations
To move the dial in the direction of your vision, conversations are essential. Conversations have the power to get multiple parties on the same page, address pressing issues and produce tangible results.
To figure out who you need to speak to, ask yourself:
Who within and outside my organization plays a key role in the fulfillment of this goal?
Is there anyone I need to have a conversation with related to performance, such as a feedback, negotiation or confrontation conversation, to get the ball rolling?
Regarding objectives, whose input needs to be considered and who needs to be informed?
Sometimes these conversations take place internally with yourself, but even individual goals can benefit from an external conversation. If you have a goal in mind for yourself, consider sharing your intentions with someone you work with. Expressing your intention will help make it real, and the person you shared with can help by holding you “able” to achieve it via follow ups and encouragement.
Once you’ve determined who you need to speak to, commit to following through. Conversations are one of the most bypassed steps in the goal setting process, yet having them can be one of the most effective ways to make things happen.
Set Milestones Along the Way
In order to create milestones, start out by determining the timeline of your goal. When does the work begin, and when will you know whether it’s been fulfilled?
Keeping track of progress throughout the year will give you important insights about your approach—specifically, whether or not it’s working. Set up electronic reminders to check in on progress regularly, which includes checking in with the people who are also working to meet the goal(s). Include key dates and key deadlines in these reminders.
If things aren’t going as you hoped during check-in, you’ll have the time to set a new course of action and make necessary adjustments.
It’s not a detriment to aim high, but also remember that you and the people you work with are human.
Also keep in mind that focusing on too many things at any given time can lead to an accidental sabotage of your intentions. If you focus your energy on a few things rather than spreading yourself too thin, you’re more likely to reach the other side of the ocean.
What successful planning strategies have you used to accomplish a goal? Share your story with us.