The single most important step in getting somewhere is the knowing where you're going and having a plan for getting there. If you don't have a goal you won't be satisfied because you won't be able to judge when you've been successful so you will constantly feel like a failure. But the story isn't over when you have a goal in mind.
You then need to split that overall goal into smaller steps so that you are able to see yourself achieving success step by step. That will help to build up your confidence and spur you on. So here is how to put your plan into action through realistic steps, by which you can measure your success.
1. You must have a clear goal. That acts as a signpost by which to direct all your activities.
2. Get your priorities right. If you know what your most important tasks are and what needs to be done first, you'll be able to more efficiently put your time and energies into things that will help you achieve your aims. You can't do everything at once so you need to decide what to do first.
3. Targets need to be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timed.
4. Once you've got your targets and you know what steps you need to take in order to achieve them, it's time to put them in order, according to your priorities.
5. Written lists will be really helpful in allowing you to put your plan into action.
6. It's probably best to have three lists
List 1 - Goals -Write down your goals and things you have to do. What do you want to achieve over the next month or year? Will this involve a big purchase or a long-term course to learn a new skill?
Write down all the things you must do, such as appointments etc. It will help you see you what your long-term goals are and decide what you need to concentrate on right now.
List 2 - The week's calendar - Make this your basic guide to setting aside basic chunks of time to achieve something. This weekly calendar needs to be flexible, as it is difficult to plan exactly what you will do a week ahead. Something new may need to be done urgently; you may change your mind about doing things a certain way etc.
List 3 - The daily “Things to Do" - Write down all the things that you wish to achieve today. Use this list as a reminder. Use it to decide your targets for the day. Be realistic about what you can do. If you're not, you're just conning yourself; you can't magically make things happen just because you want to, but you can move things to your long-term list.
7. Make a new list every morning.
8. Check off items as you finish them and praise yourself for each accomplishment. You'll see yourself getting nearer to your goals and you'll be amazed how good this feels!
Making your goals specific in this way, so that you know what you need to achieve each day helps to focus your mind. It helps you ignore distractions - even - or perhaps, especially - the distractions you create for yourself.
Yes there are other things you could do today, but are there things you need to do more urgently? There is always tomorrow for things you can't manage to do today, but a daily ‘things to do’ list will make you feel less like putting things off, simply because you've put them down on paper.
Priorities will enable you to focus your time and energies into your targets and you should see real benefits. You will get nearer to your goals each day and your confidence and motivation will increase as a result.
Peter Murphy is a peak performance expert. He recently produced a very popular free report that reveals how to crush procrastination and sustain lasting motivation. Apply now because it is available for a limited time only at: stay motivated