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Goal Setting for 2022: Break it into steps!

If you've been following this series for a couple of weeks now, you will have already identified your goals, written them the right way, prioritized them, and gotten pretty SMART already. The next step is to take your Big Picture Goals and break them down. But before we do that, I want to tell you the story of a real person I know who uses this technique impeccably.


I have an old friend -- let's call him Frank (but that's not his name) -- who used to be a theatre director. And he had a Big Picture goal every year of getting more directing work. He would then break that down into a variety of Milestone goals that varied from year to year, like seeing at least 24 shows a year, participating in a panel or forum discussion at least once a quarter, or mentoring MFA directing students. But the one Milestone goal he set every year was to send out hundreds of holiday cards to theatres, agents, and fellow theatre professionals. Hundreds of them. And it was such a huge project (and he had done it so many times when I met him) that he would start in October and put 15-30 minutes toward a VERY wide array of action steps every day. And without fail or major stress (or spending more than 30 minutes a day unless he chose to), he would get this massive mailing done.


(For the curious, some of his action steps were things like buying holiday cards, buying stamps, researching addresses for 30 minutes, signing cards (x250), and addressing cards (x250), among what I'm sure were others.)


He took his Kilimanjaro (more directing jobs), broke it into clear base camps (seeing shows, panel discussions, mentoring, and holiday cards), and then broke that one particular base camp into literal steps he could take up the mountain day by day.


So how do you do this, too, especially if your Milestone goal isn't as clear a process as Frank's was? First, start by clearly identifying your end state. Complete the sentence, "When I achieve this goal, I will ________________." It could be something like "I will be leading a more inclusive team" or "I will be an expert zoom presenter" or "I will be 20 pounds lighter." (Don't worry about SMART at the moment.)


Then, identify what's between here and there. What are actions or steps you could take right off the bat? Write those down. While you're brainstorming, ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What can I change in my life?

  • What can I do more/less of?

  • What skills or tools can I get?

  • What other area in my life can I use to help me?

  • Who can I ask for help?

  • Where can I learn more about how to achieve my goal?

Then have a conversation (or seven!) with friends, family, your manager, or a coach to identify what else you could be doing that you hadn't thought about. Going over things with a partner gives you another perspective and helps you commit to your goal because now you're sharing it with someone else. Once you have a hefty collection, then look to see if there are any dependencies between your goals -- is there something that you can't do until you've done something else? And look to see if any tasks you've identified also need to be further broken down -- if so, make the breakdown SMART. If not, make the task itself SMART.


Let's look at the example of losing weight.

END STATE: When I finish this goal, I will be 20 pounds lighter. (And feel great, fit into my skinny jeans, and be able to play with my kids for longer.)


TASKS I CAN DO:

Join a gym

Start swimming more

Find an accountability partner

Join Weight Watchers

Hire a trainer

Stop eating at night

Eat only healthy food at work

Start walking with a buddy

DEPENDENCIES:

Need to join a gym before swimming or working with a trainer

Need to join Weight Watchers before eating only healthy food at work

FURTHER BREAKDOWN:

Join a gym

Research gyms in my area by Friday

Select two gyms to tour by next Monday

Take both tours by next Friday

Sign up at a gym by the following Monday


Try it for yourself! This downloadable worksheet I'm sharing with you has a template for breaking things down and two examples you can follow.

Action Planning Worksheet
.pptx
Download PPTX • 66KB

And you can always schedule time with me to see if I can be helpful!





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