Learn how to achieve goals by creating a solid plan of action. Accomplishing and achieving goals can become a lifelong habit with these personal and professional productivity tips. (First published December 28, 2015; this post is updated and republished to improve the content.)
The best way to accomplish personal or professional business goals is to create a step-by-step action plan to achieve goals. Most people fail to achieve their goals because they don’t write down the action steps they need to take to achieve those goals. Please don’t make the mistake of setting goals without creating a step-by-step plan of action to achieve them. Wanting something does not a plan make.
Use this list of goal-setting tips to create a step-by-step plan to accomplish different types of personal, family, or professional goals to co-create a life you LOVE! We have even included a few quotes about achieving goals to keep you motivated and on track to accomplish your goals. When you’re finished, turn your Goals Into Affirmations.
How to Create an Action Plan to Achieve Goals and Avoid Potential Obstacles
Knowing how to set goals and achieve them is integral to your success. Here’s a list of action steps to help you get clear on your vision and achieve goals. But before you get started, I recommend using a goal planner to help you track progress toward each of your professional, family, and personal goals.
I use the goal-setting printable template included in the Dream Life Tool Kit. I also like to use the weekly routine planner included in our FREE QuickStart Weekly Planning Guide to help me complete the action steps I need to accomplish to achieve my goals. Follow the simple steps below to make accomplishing goals easy!
Create a Plan of Action to Achieve Goals: 15 Steps to Make Accomplishing Your Goals A Reality Now
Learn how to make a plan to accomplish goals with the goal-setting process below. Even when you make specific realistic goals, you must follow through to achieve them. When you make a plan of action with clear actionable steps to achieve goals, it becomes much easier to accomplish personal and professional goals. The personal and professional productivity tips below can help you make accomplishing goals a lifelong habit. Follow this list of action steps to achieve goals:
1. Set SMART Goals
Before you can create an action plan to achieve your goals, you must gain clarity by setting specific short-term or long-term goals. Short-term goals, like getting a job, can be accomplished in as little as a few weeks. In contrast, bigger long-term goals, such as buying a house, or starting a business, can take several years to achieve. If you have your first three goals ready to go, move on to step two. If not, Learn what the SMART acronym means, and get started with goal setting with the step-by-step instructions HERE—>How to set SMART goals.
2. Start with one goal
Get out your list of goals. One goal is sure to have risen to the top as your number one priority since you created your “Master Goal List.” (Included in the Rhythms of Play Dream Life Tool Kit) If not, allow yourself a few more days to contemplate which of your aspirations holds the most meaning and importance for you at this time in your life.
Starting with one specific professional or personal goal can help you eliminate setbacks and allow you to narrow your focus enough to achieve the desired final result. It’s better to start with one short-term goal and complete it. Then start with three long-term goals and not complete any.
If you feel confident in your plan, come back, and do this process with another goal that you want to achieve. Just make sure it is a SMART plan. If not, stick with one specific goal at a time until you master the new skill of achieving goals.
3. Research What It Takes To Achieve the Goal
If you want to make an action plan to meet a goal, you must first know what it takes to accomplish that goal. In other words, you need to know the steps to reach the goal and each of the milestones involved. Bigger goals will likely require research. Your research can include researching online or going to the library, and speaking with people who have prior experience achieving the end goal.
Once you know the steps it will take to achieve your goal. Begin creating a list of actionable items (a basic outline of each little step you need to take to accomplish that goal) before moving on to the next step in setting up your goal action plan. Use the next steps in the goal-setting process to help you with this and finalize your plan of action.
4. List steps to accomplish goal
Next, create a “Goal Action Plan” or a list of action steps it takes to achieve your personal or business goal. To create a plan to reach a larger goal, it’s best to break down big goals into actionable steps to make it easier to achieve your goals. Start by listing each of the steps it takes to accomplish that goal. Break large goals with several steps into sub-goals, groups, subcategories, or areas of focus to make a basic schedule to follow.
How to Break Each Main Goal (and Sub-Goal) Down into Manageable Baby Steps:
- Break each of the action steps to achieve your goal down into smaller tasks, so each step you take is the tiniest step possible.
- In other words, each step should have only one task or action step associated with it.
- Continue to break your plan down into smaller steps until there is only one thing to do for each action step in your goal action plan.
- Once you have broken each personal goal down into smaller tasks, create your official “Goal Action Plan.”
- Start by getting out a blank piece of paper or Use the Printable “Goal Worksheet” and “Goal Action Plan” in the Rhythms of Play–> Dream Life Tool Kit.
Prioritize the List of Action Steps to Achieve Your Goal:
- Organize the action steps it takes to achieve your goal by priority.
- Place the most important step first, followed by the next most important step, and so on.
- When you are finished, move on to the next step in the goal action plan process.
Related: 15 Ways to Raise a Helper
5. Set a Due Date or Deadline
First, make a realistic assessment of the time frame (how long it will take) to complete the action steps to achieve your goals. Next, choose a due date that feels doable, so you don’t lose faith and give up. Then, add it to your calendar to energize it and make it real–NOW!
Setting a due date is necessary to keep your goals SMART because it keeps them time-bound. The steps you need to take and the time you have to dedicate can help determine how long it should take you to accomplish your goal.
After completing the steps listed above, you should have a pretty good idea of how long it might take to achieve your goal. Next, consider what you have learned, and choose an attainable due date based on all factors needed for its completion so you don’t lose faith and give up.
6. Create a Timeline and Set Interim Goals
Interim goals or deadlines are due dates set for reaching smaller goals within the larger overarching end goal or accomplishing specific action steps or phases needed to achieve your goals. For example, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds in 6 months, an interim plan would be to lose 3-5 pounds in a month.
On the other hand, if your goal is to start a business and earn a full-time income in 2 years, the interim goal might be a part-time income after one year. Interim due dates help people feel like they are making progress toward their goals and are a great way to keep motivation high to accomplish goals.
Set interim due dates based on the due date chosen in step 5 in the section above. Then create a basic timeline to help keep your plan SMART and measure your progress toward reaching your goal.
How to create your timeline and set interim goals:
- Enter your overall goal due date; as well as interim goals and deadlines into your goal action plan printable, and your calendar. Write it down and make it happen!
- Next, write each of your goal action steps into your calendar or weekly planner so you can stay on track to achieve your goals. In other words, find time to complete each task listed in step four by writing it into your planner.
- Check off each goal action step as you accomplish it.
7. Delegate As Needed
Delegating responsibility is a superpower that helps us use our time, energy, and talents wisely to accomplish the goals that we set out to achieve. Especially if there is a specific task that you don’t feel qualified to complete. Please delegate all tasks and action steps that you can not or do not want to complete.
Hire others to do tasks and action steps, or hire others to take care of your children, landscape the yard, or clean the house, so you can do them yourself. Remember, we can’t do it all, but we can ask, or pay, others to help.
8. Post Your Plan of Action and Continue to Completion
Post your goal plan somewhere you will refer to daily. Then, focus on completing the goal action tasks you set out to accomplish each day, week, and month to make your goal (or dream) a reality.
I like to keep my goals and action steps right where I can see them. I need them in my face to stay motivated and on track to complete the action steps to achieve goals. Putting my goals somewhere I can see them daily makes it much easier for me to accomplish them. I use a large wall calendar with wet-erase markers for this purpose.
I also like to make copies and use heavyweight sheet protectors, dry erase pockets, (or laminating sheets and a laminator) to make it easy to reuse goal printables. Not only does this help me conserve paper and printer ink, but it ensures that I always have my printables ready to go because there is no need to re-print them.
Dry-erase pockets not only make it easy to reuse goal-setting printables and worksheets. They also make it easy to hang your action steps to achieve goals on the wall with a pushpin. Which makes them easy to display just about anywhere.
Another beautiful way to display your personal goal plan is to put your printables into a frame and hang it on any wall in your home or office. Wet-erase markers work great with most 8.5 X 11-inch frames and clean up in a snap!
If you are curious, we prefer to write with wet-erase markers instead of dry-erase markers on our whiteboards and laminated weekly planning sheets because they don’t rub off when you are writing with them, and all you need is a wet cloth to wipe it clean. Give them a try!
9. Create a “Not Doing List” or “Stop Doing List.”
A “Not Doing List” (or a “Stop Doing List”) is a list of actions that you promise to stop doing. These lists are excellent tools that can help you eliminate setbacks, stay focused on your priorities, and make it possible (and much easier) to accomplish goals.
“Give yourself permission to stop doing the things that drain your energy and steal time from your dreams.”Nell Regan Kartychok
A “Not Doing List” can also help you make time for your dreams by making a simple promise to yourself–that you will NOT DO the things on it. Without one, you are likely to spend your day putting out fires without making any real progress towards your goals.
And, yes, one you can use to help you keep your priorities straight, eliminate distractions, and delegate responsibility, so you can make a beeline straight toward your goals. There is a printable “Not Doing List” with several suggestions and prompts provided in our Dream Life Tool Kit.
10. Don’t take a detour to “Procrastination Station.”
Beware of false productivity. Do not take a detour to “Procrastination Station.” “Procrastination Station” is when you spend time working on low-priority tasks instead of completing action steps to achieve your high-priority goals.
“Procrastination Station” can fool you into thinking that you are being productive because you are getting things done. Unfortunately, no matter how constructive, any form of procrastination will steal your focus and keep you from reaching your goals.
There is not enough time in our day-to-day lives to complete everything on our to-do list, and there never will be. The most successful people don’t try to do everything. Instead, they create a “Not Doing List” and learn to focus on getting the most important tasks done first. “They eat their frogs.”
Finish High-priority Tasks First
Mark Twain wrote, and Brain Tracy mentions in his book Eat That Frog; that if the first thing you do in the morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you. Likewise, when we do the most challenging task first, everything else becomes more manageable. You’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you finished the most difficult thing you’ll have to do all day.
Use the goal-setting tips provided in this post to organize the critical tasks you need to accomplish to achieve your goals. Then dedicate yourself to getting those tasks completed efficiently and effectively before working on low-priority tasks. Whatever you do, don’t take a detour to “Procrastination Station.” Instead, complete your high-priority goal action steps FIRST!
11. Use the Power of Rhythm to Make Achieving Goals Easy!
Rhythm is one of the most effective time management tools you can use to accomplish your personal and professional goals. Following a daily routine will help you keep moving forward toward your goals every day. Learn how to use the power of rhythm to plan your daily routine to achieve your goals and dreams. Grab our FREE Guide and get started today–> QuickStart Weekly Planning Guide
12. Turn Goals Into Affirmations
Once you have completed each of the steps listed above, turn your goals into positive affirmation statements to make achieving them a reality. Click HERE to find out why and how to–> turn your goals into positive affirmations!
13. Take Action, Be True to Your Word, and Honor Your Commitments
If you want to achieve your goals; take action, be true to your word, honor your commitments, and do what you say you are going to do. No excuses. Be authentic, develop healthy habits, take responsibility for the co-creation of your dreams, and live in your integrity. Your commitments matter. You must take responsibility for the co-creation of your dreams. No one else can do it for you.
If you are constantly breaking your promises to yourself and others (or not doing what you say you will do), you will have difficulty accomplishing your goals. Prove to yourself that your dreams and goals are worth it and success will be yours!
Related: Word of the Year Ideas and Tips
14. Visualize Your Success: Act “As If” your Goal is real now
Creation by default won’t get you very far. Stay conscious of what you are co-creating and manifesting in your life. In other words, if you want to achieve your goals, it is necessary to make a plan. Setting goals doesn’t help you achieve them. To make our dreams and goals a reality we must first create a “goal action plan.”
Then, once we have a basic plan to achieve our goals laid out, it is important to visualize what our lives would be like if we accomplished these goals. Take a moment to act “as if” your dreams and goals are real now. Set aside time in your day to see or feel what life is like from the perspective of having attained your goals–to help you reach them.
Ask the following questions to visualize accomplishing goals:
- What does it look like to achieve this goal?
- How would it feel to accomplish this goal?
- Would your life be different? If so, how?
Close your eyes to become aware of the finer details. If it feels good, you are on the right track. The positive emotions you feel are helping you bring your dreams and goals to fruition. Or, you may learn that you need to make some adjustments to your plan, and that’s perfect, too. Just continue to visualize your success, stay true to your vision, and follow through on your goal action steps, and you will get there, one baby step at a time!
15. Complete a Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly, or Annual Goal Review
If you want to achieve your business and personal goals, it’s an excellent idea to check your progress and adjust your plan. Performing a goal review is a great way to learn if you need to rework any actions or due dates and keep yourself motivated. Reassess and revise your goal action plan with the “Weekly Review Worksheet” included in the RoP Dream Life Tool Kit and the goal review tips found HERE—> How to do a Goal Review.
Don’t give up on achieving your goals if you ever fall behind. Instead, make a plan to rework your “Goal Action Plan” every week to review your goals and keep yourself on track to accomplish them. Designing an action plan to achieve goals and completing a goal review is the most effective way to create the life of your dreams–one goal, habit, or rhythm at a time!
16. Reward Yourself!
Congratulate yourself on a job well done. Rewarding yourself for achieving goals is a great way to stay motivated and on track. Whether you finish the goal of creating an action plan to achieve goals, complete an important step, or reach the goal you set to accomplish, reward yourself for a job well done! There are lots of simple ways to reward yourself for each milestone you achieve or accomplish, even if it’s only your first step.
For large goals with several steps or sub-groups, we recommend giving yourself a small reward when you accomplish each milestone, and a larger reward once you complete the goal. Remember, the best reward is one that feels meaningful and fulfilling and makes sense to you. So it’s important to choose rewards that align with your values and contribute to your overall well-being.
fun ways to reward yourself for Accomplishing Milestones and Achieving Goals:
- Take a Break or Vacation: After reaching a significant milestone, take a day off or plan a vacation to relax and rejuvenate.
- Treat Yourself to Something Special: Buy something you’ve been wanting for a while, such as a new book, gadget, or a piece of clothing.
- Enjoy Your Favorite Meal: Go out to your favorite restaurant or cook a special meal at home.
- Experience Something New: Try a new activity or hobby you’ve been interested in, like a cooking class, dance lesson, or a day trip to a new place.
- Pampering Session: Book a spa day, get a massage, or have a relaxing bath at home.
- Celebrate with Friends or Family: Organize a small party or get-together to share your success with loved ones.
- Quiet Time Alone or in Nature: If you prefer solitude, reward yourself with some quiet time to read, meditate, go for a walk in nature, meditate, or just relax.
- Health and Wellness Activities: Sign up for a yoga class, gym membership, or a personal training session.
- Invest in Personal or Professional Growth: Enroll in a course or workshop that interests you or contributes to your personal or professional development.
- Charitable Acts: Sometimes, giving back can be the most rewarding. Donate to a cause you care about or volunteer your time.
- Creative Outlets: Indulge in a creative activity like painting, writing, or crafting.
- Digital Detox: Reward yourself with a day free from electronic devices and social media to unwind and reconnect with yourself.
Create an Action Plan For Achieving Goals With a GOAL SETTING WORKSHEET AND GOAL PLANNER
Create an action plan to achieve goals today! Setting business and personal goals, creating an action plan, and sticking to it is a surefire way to attain your goals and live the life of your dreams. Follow the steps listed above, and you will be well on your way to achieving your goals. Don’t wait, do it today!
I highly recommend using a goal planner to help you stay on track. As I mentioned above, I like to use the goal-setting worksheets in our Dream Life Tool Kit and the weekly routine planner included in our FREE QuickStart Weekly Planning Guide to help me figure out how to fit the action steps that I need to take into my weekly rhythm.Dream Life Tool Kit
I also like to use a large four-month magnetic whiteboard wall calendar to literally “see” the goal action steps that I need to take next. But, please, use the tools and resources that work best for you.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!