Intro: How to Plan Effectively
This method can be applied to both short-term and long-term planning
You will need the following to set and achieve your goals:
~Pen (not pencil)
~A close friend or family member
Step 1: Where to Start?
Many of us have started a goal at one point or another. Your goal should be something that you want. That may seem like an obvious statement, but too often we make goals for things that other people want. Is it really my goal to drink only one soda pop a week, or am I trying to avoid my sister who constantly complains about the ill-effects of soda? Take the moment of self-reflection to decide on a goal best fit for you.
Step 2: Write a Vision
A vision should include details about what your end goal will be like. Describe the consequences of fulfilling your plans. Phrases such as, "I want" and "I will" can be used sparingly and should relate to your feelings by the end of your plan.
Step 3: Self-Motivate
Write down the big WHYs of your vision. This will help you remember the purpose of the plan and how it applies to you. Answer questions such as:
Why is this important in your life right now?
Why will this help you/others?
Why should your future-self continue to work toward the goal?
It is important to be honest with yourself because it will remind you of your purest intentions.
Step 4: Specify
Though feel-good messages are nice, and everyone needs a boost of confidence to get started on a goal, without more specific guidelines, any plan can die out like a fire that is left to smolder.
Step 5: Make an Action Plan
Many times, your specifications are still too broad to be able to start on anything right away. Now is the time for plan-ception. Make plans to carry out the plans.
Note that you can go as many layers deep as is necessary for the clarity of action that you need. In long-term plans, you may develop an outline on how to carry out each point of your action plan which shows how to carry out your specified goals etc.
If you are not sure how specific to be, ask yourself, "If I were to go into a coma and someone else had to carry on this task, would they be able to based on my instructions/plans?"
Step 6: Set a Deadline
Now that you have an idea of what work will be needed to achieve your goals, it is time to set a deadline.
Choose a deadline that is slightly closer than how fast it will take you to complete the goals working at an average pace. You want to work faster than average, to not give yourself many excuses.
Different deadlines may be given for different portions of the Action Plan.
Step 7: Post Your Plan
The plan needs to be visible. You did not go through all this work just to shut your ideas in a drawer. The paper cannot be in the way of day-to-day activities but must be somewhere that you will see it each and every day. Some may put it on the refrigerator or inside the refrigerator. I use a desk that I study at each day.
Step 8: Speak Up!
Friends and family can be powerful assistants in keeping your goals. Do not exclude them from your vision. You may not know it, but they most likely have resources and connections that can help you.
Step 9: Monitor Progress
If your goal involves daily tasks, this may be checking days off of a calendar with x's or smiley faces. Continuous monitoring is good in spite of changing circumstances. There are times that you may feel overwhelmed by the stretches in which you get very little done.
By monitoring your progress, you will gain more motivation each day.
Step 10: Reward Yourself
At times, you will do great. That is because you are your best self. Remind yourself of the good that you do and take breaks. Do not give yourself rewards that are counterproductive to your goals e.g. don't eat a pound of ice cream if your vision is to lose weight.