It is May already, and most of us have our goals set. Some spend a great amount of time throughout January and February thinking about what they want to achieve during the year. Just to realise around May, their resources are exhausted, and they are still far from succeeding. Win half the battle now, so you can concentrate on winning it all.
It is also that time of the year when many sit back and relax because they know what success will look like for the year ahead, isn’t it? No wonder why studies show that more than 70% of life goals set at the beginning of the year are abandoned later in the year.
Is setting goals and knowing what success looks like the same as planning? Because this is the question, isn’t it? We might believe that by setting goals, we planned out the year ahead. And I am not talking about unexpected events disrupting our precious dreams.
High performers know proper planning is half the battle
Setting a goal means you know the WHAT. Did knowing the WHAT ever take you to achieve it? Itself it didn’t work for sure. You can add a deadline to your goal, which makes your progress more measurable. But you still might be clueless about HOW you are going to achieve that goal.
So, what is a plan?
A plan is basically your path to success. It is a series of steps to take you to the destination. Knowing what steps you have to make is helpful. Not only because you can think about how you can progress, but because you can account for potential limitations and barriers. Planning takes you to the plane of the HOW and transfers your mind from the DESIRE to the realm of ACTION.
How come so many people struggle with achieving their goals if planning is so straightforward?
Tools you can use to plan
What comes to mind when you think about planning? Some instantly see their vision boards, others visualise detailed spreadsheets. People often tell me plans should include only a few steps and I also often hear that they must be specific.
So, what is the best way to make a plan, and what tools can you use?
Before we get into the top 10 planning tools lists and the time spent on comparing apps and solutions, let’s think about what you can expect from a good plan. More precisely, what do you want to get out of a good plan?
To me, a good plan is clear & simple, action-focused and realistic. It includes all the guideposts I need to get to my destination. I don’t need to add all the tiny bits, but I want to know the links and dependencies between my action items.
Where does it leave you? Which tool is the best?
The choice is ultimately yours. Based on your thinking style and discipline around performance.
A vision board is a useful tool for dreaming, and you can use a visual tool to make a plan. Such a visual tool is a mind map. A mind map is an easy to follow method to account for all you need to achieve a specific goal.
You can also use the ©Change Manifesto Tiles (©CMT). It is a simple tool that aids you in concentrating on the new elements you need to bring into your life to achieve your goals.
The ©CMT takes you through the journey of building up what you need to deliver on a specific goal. You focus on the components that are not in your life yet so you can achieve clarity around the challenge you might face.
The tool includes guidance, a template and an example, too. You can download the ©Change Manifesto Tiles tool here free for your personal use.
If you prefer a detailed plan, you can use a spreadsheet, and some prefer using task management apps.
The critical elements of a good plan
You might think that putting together a plan is complicated. While some initiatives require complexity, you can focus on a few essential components. Make sure
- all critical components are included,
- your plan is easy to make, understand and follow; and
- your action items are specific enough for you to act on them
A good plan consists of all the components you need to be conscious about to achieve your goal. It is structured, and it should be easy for you to link which action links to which goal or goals. A good plan also enables you to find dependencies between your actions. The latter gives you the benefit of finding out where and how you can save time or money, which essentially helps with your resource management.
A plan itself is a documented version of your vision. Without action, it remains just that. If you looked at your goals, realised it is already May, and you have a long way to go, the ©Change Manifesto Tiles tool is a quick way to build up your capability and pump new energy into your efforts.