I may get paid commission for purchases made after clicking a link in this post.
Setting goals is important, but it’s only half the battle. If you truly want to turn your dreams into reality you need to turn your goals into an action plan – and then take consistent action on that plan. Here’s how to actually achieve your goals...
It’s widely understood that setting goals will make you more successful. Setting goals gives you a clear vision about where you are headed so you can make smart decisions about which tasks to spend your time on, avoid wasting time on tasks that won’t move the dial, and stay accountable and motivated.
But setting goals is, arguably, the ‘easy’ part. What most people find much harder is turning those goals into reality. If you truly want to achieve your goals and reach your personal definition of success, you need to use those goals to create a specific personalized action plan to get you from where you are today to where you want to be… and then follow through on that plan by taking consistent action every day.
In this article I’ll show you how to actually achieve your goals, so you can turn your dreams into reality.
Why set goals in the first place?
Before we dive into HOW to achieve your goals, it’s worth taking a step back to ask WHY? Why set goals at all?
One of my favourite analogies here is that of a boat… If you don’t set goals, you are a bit like a boat drifting in the middle of an ocean – being buffeted by the waves of other people’s agendas, the latest blogging trend or fad, and what you ‘feel’ like doing today. Reacting, not being proactive. And never actually getting anywhere.
If you want to be successful – if you want to get anywhere in life, and in business especially – you need to pick a direction and plot a course to get there. And that is, in essence, what goal-setting is all about.
Goals help you get clear about where you are heading so you can prioritize the right tasks, stay focused on what matters most and avoid wasting time on unnecessary activities and timewasters. Setting goals also helps you measure your progress and celebrate your achievements.
READ MORE >>> Why setting goals will make you more successful
Turning your goals into an action plan
But simply setting goals is not enough. There are probably thousands of bloggers and online business owners who set goals each year and then those goals just sit in a drawer somewhere… The blogger in question just carries on doing whatever it is they normally do and a year later they are no closer to their goals.
Hands up if that has ever happened to you?!
The truth is, if you want to make progress towards your goals and achieve your dreams, you need to make a plan about EXACTLY HOW you will get from where you are today to where you want to be a year from now.
In other words, if you want to actually ACHIEVE your goals, you need a plan! I recommend creating a Yearly Action Plan for the next 12 months.
Creating a Yearly Action Plan involves 4 key steps:
- Identifying your Most Impactful Tasks
- Deciding when you will do your Most Impactful Tasks
- Breaking your Most Impactful Tasks up into specific steps
- Creating specific Monthly Action Plans
1. Identify your Most Impactful Tasks
The first step in creating a Yearly Action Plan is to take a look at your goals and then to take a look at all the possible activities and tasks you *could* do with your time and ask yourself the important question: ‘Which, out of all these activities and tasks, will move the dial the most?’
Because the simple truth is, your time is FINITE… which means you CAN’T do everything. And so you have to CHOOSE… and of course it makes most sense to pick the tasks which are going to move the dial the most – the tasks that will give you most bang for your buck.
I call these your ‘Most Impactful Tasks’ or MITs.
These are the tasks that you will spend the majority of your time, effort and energy on, because these are the tasks that will have the biggest impact on your goals.
I recommend you pick no more than 9 MITs for the next year. This means you will really have to consider carefully which out of all the possible tasks and activities you *could* do with your time will deliver the greatest ROI – Return On (Time) Invested.
(Need some help with this? Download a copy of my ebook Blog Smarter Not Harder where I show you exactly how to identify your Most Impactful Tasks.)
2. Decide when you will do your Most Impactful Tasks
But just defining WHAT your Most Impactful Tasks are is not much use on its own. The next step is to decide WHEN you will do your Most Impactful Tasks.
I recommend assigning each MIT a specific month. 9 MITs and a whole year stretching out ahead of you will make you feel like you have ‘all the time in the world’ to complete them… and as a result, you’ll put off getting started, procrastinate, get distracted, waste time and suddenly 11 months from now you’ll realise you’ve started maybe 1 or 2 of your MITs… and completed NONE of them!
But assign each MIT a specific month and suddenly you have a much shorter, much more tangible deadline – you’ll be much less likely to procrastinate and waste time, and much more likely to stay focused and motivated.
And the reason I suggest only selecting 9 MITs is to give you some ‘buffer’ time in case MITs overrun… and also to allow plenty of time for rest and time off. (Taking regular pre-planned time off is one of THE best productivity tools.)
3. Break your Most Impactful Tasks up into specific steps
Identifying your 9 MITs for the year and assigning each one to a specific month is a great first step, but to give yourself the greatest chance of success in actually achieving your goals, you need to take each month in turn and break up each MIT into a series of specific steps, or ‘sub-tasks’.
This will make your MIT feel more achievable… which, in turn, will make you more likely to do it.
One of the big reasons why we as humans procrastinate is because our tasks seem too big and overwhelming… by breaking your MIT down into a series of achievable steps it will seem much more manageable and you’ll be much more likely to finish it by the end of the month.
As they say… the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
4. Create specific Monthly Action Plans
The final step is to create specific Monthly Action Plans. For each month, specify the MIT and the specific sub-tasks you need to do to achieve that MIT.
To maximize your chances of success, you should also add exactly WHEN you will do each sub-task. (For example WEEK 1 MON, WEEK 2 TUE and so on.)
Doing this essentially gives you a series of mini deadlines… and as we all know, deadlines are incredibly powerful motivators! And by planning the whole year out, you will know that those mini deadlines are REAL deadlines… if you don’t get today’s task done today, that will have a knock on effect for the whole of the rest of the year… and ultimately on your goals!
But doing this also has another powerful effect. By planning out your year in this way, you can then essentially stop worrying about ‘everything else’ and just focus on the 1 or 2 subtasks you have set yourself for TODAY… knowing ‘everything else’ will get done later – whenever you’ve planned it in.
This has an incredible side effect. It lifts the mental load, helping you to feel less overwhelmed, less stressed, more organized and more in control. And this, in turn, helps you focus better on the tasks you have to do today.
Of course you don’t have to plan every month in detail right now! I recommend you plan Month 1 in detail now, and just make rough plans for Months 2-12. You can plan each future month in more detail when you get there.
(Need some help with this? Download a copy of my ebook Blog Smarter Not Harder where I show you exactly how to create specific Monthly Action Plans.)
Take Consistent Action
Identifying your Most Important Tasks and creating Yearly Action Plans and Monthly Action Plans will do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to achieving your goals, but there is one more big piece in the puzzle and that is taking consistent action.
One of the biggest differences between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people take consistent action. Unsuccessful people do not.
So, once you have created your Yearly and Monthly Action Plans, ensure you set aside time each day to work on the MIT-related tasks you have set yourself for that day.
And make your MIT-related tasks the FIRST thing you do each day. (If you don’t you’ll find all too often your time will get frittered away on less important tasks and you’ll run out of time to work on the tasks that matter most!)
This system will work no matter whether you have 5 hours or 50 hours per week to work on your blog / business. How much time you have to work on your online business actually matters far less than HOW you spend that time…
It’s incredible what you can achieve in just a few hours per week, if you spend those hours on truly impactful tasks. (And it’s incredible how easy it is to fritter away 50+ hours a week on low impact tasks and ‘busy work’ if you don’t have a good system!)
And if you have erratic or unusual work hours, this system will help you EVEN MORE by ensuring you stay on track and hit the ground running when you do get a spare nugget of time to work on your blog… Better still, you’ll know you’re using that time in the most productive way possible!
READ MORE >>> How to plan your day for maximum productivity
Regularly review and adjust your plans
Planning is not a one and done thing. I recommend that you regularly review your plans to check you are on track to achieve them. Mark off each task as you do them and then, at the end of each month, take some time to review the month just gone and plan the next one.
And don’t be afraid to adjust your plans based on your progress and any changes – either in your personal life or in the wider world. Your plans are not set in stone and sometimes it may be necessary to re-arrange your plan, swap out an MIT or pivot entirely.
But if you do change your plans, just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are bearing your goals in mind… It’s all too easy to mis-identify some ‘new shiny object’ as ‘essential’ or ‘an emergency’, when actually it is just a distraction – timewasting ‘busy work’ that won’t help you make any progress whatsoever towards your goals.
How to Actually Achieve Your Goals – wrapping it up
If you truly want to achieve your goals, you need to create a solid action plan… and then follow through on that plan with regular consistent action. THIS is the real ‘secret’ to turning your dreams into reality.
Need help with this?
Grab a free copy of my ebook Blog Smarter Not Harder which takes you through this entire process in much more detail, with examples and worksheets!
Over to you…
I’d love to hear from you if this article has helped you or if you have any tips or suggestions of your own to add. Let us know in the comments section below!
- Why setting goals will make you more successful
- 21 habits that will massively boost your productivity
- How to plan your day for maximum productivity
- How to stay focused… and massively boost your productivity!