How to Write an Action Plan to Achieve Your Goals

plan-goals

Did you ever notice how there are hundreds of books that claim they know how to make your dreams come true, and how there are thousands of articles like this one that claim to make your dreams come true. If they all worked, then wouldn’t they all say the same thing? One commonly believed key to success is: we need to create a strategic plan to make our dreams come true. We need to write down our aims, divide them into smaller aims, write down every step we should make, the time they will take. Does this strategy work?

Think of this – a man with a wrecking ball can make a hole in a solid brick wall. A man in a prison with a small steel pin can also make a hole in a wall. It is less about the method and tools you use, and more about your perpetual, repeated, unwavering will. Do you know what the biggest waste of time truly is? It is starting a race and not finishing it.

The Nine Elements Of Goal Setting

Make a salad with just lettuce and cucumber, and you can fill your stomach. Make a salad with lettuce, cucumber, salad cream, cottage cheese, feta cheese, cheddar cheese, celery, spring onions, pickled onions, egg, beetroot and watercress, and you have a nice meal that will fill your stomach. The point is that you can use one goal-setting element and succeed, you can use four and succeed, or you can use nine hundred. The more you add the more pleasant and productive your experience will be.

Here, I offer nine elements of goal setting:

1 – A clearly defined objective
2 – A clearly defined end date
3 – A detailed breakdown of every task
4 – A time budget
5 – A schedule
6 – A contingency plan
7 – Resources and requirements
8 – A reason to succeed
9 – A mental or visual representation of your success
10 – A lack of negative consequences

Some of the elements listed above are probably going to make you furrow your brow, so let us justify them right here. These tips are born from my experience, as well as lessons learned from books written by Napoleon Hill, Richard Branson, Donald Trump, Dennis Prager, Judge Judy and Bill Clinton.

A clearly defined objective

A shooter cannot hit a target if he or she doesn’t have a clearly defined target. You are only human, and you need a target if you wish to achieve something. A test needs a grade, a train needs a destination, and your dream needs a target. It must also be a very clearly defined target because that is what makes the difference between a dream and an achievable goal. Make it clear what you want in clearly defined terms.

A clearly defined end date

I will have X by X date. Your clearly defined end date should be something you consider after you have completed your plan. However, there are occasions where your deadline is hoisted upon you. Besides the Bible, the book that has sold the most copies was written by a man called Napoleon Hill. One of his biggest rules was that a plan could only work if a clearly defined deadline was in place. If you were told you were definitely 100% going to live forever, would you feel driven to achieve anything? Would you even bother getting out of bed in the morning?

A detailed breakdown of every task

You need to write down how you intend to complete each task and where you will get your resources. Japanese car makers were so successful in the 90s and 00s because they took apart each car, examined each part, and asked how they could improve it. Breaking down every task allows you to do the same. It allows you to repeat your success, examine your failures, and come up with protocols to help ensure that future tasks are successful.

A time budget

Within your strategic plan, you will need to break down each task and decide how long each one will take. This helps create your schedule, contingency plan and your end date. Learn from your time budgets so you may estimate how long a project will take, and use your time budgets as a standard to figure out if you are ahead of or behind the schedule.

A schedule

You know how long each task will take; you now need to put them in a schedule that accommodates the time taken for each task. You also need to decide in which order they will be done. Think of your time budgets as single bus routes, and your schedule as a complete bus map.

A contingency plan

Life is unpredictable, and the only way you can plan for the unexpected is to give yourself more wiggle room. Extend your time budgets, allocate more resources than needed, and fully consider all alternatives so that failure cannot occur. Add wiggle room with policies such as adding 15% to all expense predictions and lowering all income predictions by 20%. Plan how you will recover from single-task failures to ensure they will not drag down the entire project.

Resources and requirements

You now want to create a list of the resources that you need to write down how you intend to get them, and you need to detail any further requirement such as qualifications, staff members and so forth. Failing to do so is like failing to consider how much gas you need before taking a long car journey.

A reason to succeed

The goal doesn’t count as a reason. A woman doesn’t work hard to buy an ultra-expensive office chair because she wants the chair. She does it because her current chair hurts her back, because she wants a chair that reclines, or because she likes that new-chair smell. A reason to succeed that extends beyond material gain (or that sits besides it) will help maintain the project workers’ motivation.

A mental or visual representation of your success

A mental image of your end goal, or something visual or physical that you can look at to remind yourself of why you are working so hard. The work of Napoleon Hill is littered with examples of rich and famous people who were well-motivated by their visual representations of success; from the estate agent who looked at her large diamond ring whenever she felt down, to the boxers who dreamed about holding the champion belt in their hands.

A lack of negative consequences

Workable plans have no negative consequences. Contrary to popular belief, a fear of negative consequences is not a good motivator, (try it a few times by setting up terrible consequences of your own doing, they are rarely a motivator). Instead, set contingency plans in place so that if one idea doesn’t work, you have an alternative idea planned and ready to do. Some people work better under pressure, and others do not. If you crack under pressure, then create plans where you always have an alternative route to success.

 

Last but not least, a mental or visual representation of your success is a sadly underrated element, so here is a little advice that you have never heard before. Your visual/mental representation needs to be your go-to place whenever life kicks you. Let’s say your visual representation is a thermometer image showing how much money you have saved (like the sort of thing you see in church funding drives). The next time you think about something evil that somebody did to you, clear your mind of it and think only of your thermometer image. Force yourself to think of your visual representation and your goal every time life makes you sad. Force your mind to stop wasting time on thoughts that make you sad.

5 Ways Writing Can Lead You to Mindfulness

writing mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that helps you let go of your worries and concerns, and live in the here and now. If you find you’re often upset or anxious, then mindfulness can help you let go of the ‘what ifs?’ and come back to the present.

Writing can be a fantastic way of practising mindfulness, and it needs nothing more than a pen and paper. If you have those, and a willingness to try it out, then you’re ready to go. Here are 5 ways writing can help you achieve peace in your life.

1. Use a journal

When it comes to writing, many people start on a computer or laptop. After all, you spend all day at a computer, hence typing on a keyboard is basically second nature to you. However, the best way to practice mindfulness is to write using a pen and paper. This is because it forces you to slow down and really think about what you’re writing.

If you want to get started, buy yourself a nice journal and pen and use that to write every day. This book will be the place you’ll go to when you want to relax and understand yourself better. Make this investment now, and you’ll feel the benefit.

Of course, if you’re really not comfortable, it is alright to use a computer to write. When you do write, ensure that you’re taking your time over it. Give yourself the time and space to really explore how you feel.

2. Try writing exercises

So you have your journal. Now what? If you’re not sure where to start, try some writing exercises. They’re the best way to get the creative juices flowing and start expressing yourself on a paper.

For example, try using photos as inspiration to start writing. Fridge poetry words are another good option, as they can be mixed up, then two or three can be selected and used as a prompt. You can even write the phrase ‘I remember…’ then write whatever comes to your mind. Just see what comes out.

Don’t worry about how the writing comes out. The point is, you’re looking to just get anything down on a paper. If you want to edit it afterwards, use software such as Hemingway Editor, Academized or Pro Writing Aid to help you.

3. Use free writing when you’re stuck

If you’re really struggling and the writing exercises can’t help you, the best way to start is with free writing. This is when you set yourself a timer, and just start writing whatever you’re thinking about. Set a timer for ten minutes and just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.

At first, you’ll find yourself writing things like ‘I have no idea what to write about’ and ‘this is ridiculous.’ However, your mind will soon start making connections and you’ll not notice how ten minutes fly by.

If you’re worried that what you write is nonsensical, it’s not a problem. Just get it written first, then edit later. Readable or Big Assignments will help you get it looking good.

4. Decide if you want to share with others

This step is really up to you. Some people like to share their writing with others, and discuss what they’ve learned through writing it. Others like to keep their writing for themselves, and use it for personal reflection. Either way is fine, but you need to decide what’s the best for you.

If you decide you want to share with others, then editing your writing will be important. That way, it’s easier for others to read what you’ve written and give you honest and useful feedback. If you want help, tools such as Write My Assignment or UK Writings can all lend you a hand.

Sharing with others can be a really uplifting experience. Writing can help you work through your feelings, and put names and words to those feelings. When you share them, you’ll soon see that you’re not alone in how you feel.

5. Take your writing further

If you’re finding that you’re having success with your writing, then you want to expand on what you’re doing with it. There are several ways that you can use your writing in order to help yourself and others. For example, if you’re under the care of a mental health professional, you can take it to them and share it. You can also use blogs and articles to share your findings.

If you choose to do this, your writing will need to be polished first. Use Easy Word Count to sweep for errors, and Cite It In to cite any sources you use properly.

If you’ve found that writing has helped ground you in the here and now, you may have the skill to communicate this to others. Try describing the prompts and techniques that you’ve used in the past, and how they’ve affected your mindset now.

Writing is just one tool that you can use when practising mindfulness, but it is a powerful one. Put it to good use and you’ll see just how much it can benefit in observing and understanding your mind.

Becoming Friends with Our Own Minds

A few years ago when I got familiar with meditation I didn’t know where it would take me. I had no expectations and no set goals with it. Meditation took me to a journey on which I have discovered how powerful my mind was and how I let it control me not in a nice way for quite some time. Now, finally, I’m working towards being more friendly with my thoughts, emotions and most of all my inner self. Continue reading “Becoming Friends with Our Own Minds”