Let’s face it, we’re often pretty good at articulating what we want. Many of us have goals, objectives, vision and ambition. What’s more challenging though is how you convert all of that into reality – how you manage their implementation and stick to a plan. So here’s a recipe to help you keep you on track, resist diversions and get you to your goal.
Unpeel your goal
Really get to grips with what you want to achieve and what achieving it will look like and bring. Your goal needs to guide you through the ups and downs of the project or process that will lead to it. If it isn’t clear or specific you may well lose your way or lose heart. Another thing with goals is to weigh them. Favour smaller goals that you can achieve quickly rather than major change that will take years to complete.
Slice the process (that will lead you from where you are now to your goal) into manageable steps.
Give each of these steps a realistic timeframe. It’s important that you make deadlines count so set them sensibly. If one slips, others invariably do too. In doing this you will have begun a plan of action. The quicker you can complete a step, the more motivated you’ll be. So season in some quick wins to ensure you are moving forward and not stalling or procrastinating.
More importantly integrate these steps into whatever time management device/task list you use on a daily basis, be it your Blackberry, Diary, To Do List etc. Now’s not the time to try a new project management tool. Save that for another day. Stick with what works for you and make sure the plan’s steps integrate with all your other tasks. Realistically you may find it difficult to fit more into your day, so think what you could defer, delegate or lose in order to get your plan moving forward. And if the steps you’ve set are beyond your comfort zone then get help or delegate. Don’t procrastinate – in time this will ruin other plans and goals not just this one.
Sieve through the people who are going to help and hinder
Invariably a plan will impact on different groups of people and sadly human nature is often a major cause in a plan’s failure or demise. So be clear about which people will:
- be purely focused on the project’s results
- actively help your plan succeed
- have an interest (and who may be influential or harmful to the plan’s progress).
In doing so, work out ways to satisfy their concerns and keep their support. A trick here is never assume people’s views or actions in implementing a plan. Always listen, clarify thoughts, double-check actions have been undertaken and work diplomatically to overcome resistance or concerns. If you have reached an obstacle, then stop, find out and resolve what concerns people have before trying to charge on. Also make sure you are using communication channels that they favour and respond to.
Weigh up potential obstacles and challenges
…that may crop up in the plan’s progress and try and think through alternative courses of action that could keep you on track. Build in time in your plan to review progress. If things have changed dramatically, then adapt your plan to the new situation rather than ditch it. If you still want to achieve your goal, consider alternative steps that will get you there and adjust your timeframes accordingly. It’s always good to spoon in a degree of flexibility with a plan.
Serve up mini celebrations or reward yourself (and your team) when you achieve key stages in the plan. The more motivated people are, the more they’ll want to complete the next steps. Another way to maintain motivation is to communicate progress and keep everyone ‘in the loop’ on how things are doing.
About the author: Michelle Daniels, Managing Director – Extended Thinking
An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and professional services marketing group.
Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.