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Published on June 18, 2020

How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

How to Make a Plan And Reach Your Goals in Life

If your 2020 goals feel out of reach right now, it’s totally understandable. With so many unforeseen changes due to COVID-19, it becomes difficult to know how to make a plan and stick to it.

The thing is our world is always changing. Most of the time, it’s not overly noticeable or we handle it fairly well.

This particular global challenge is different, though, because we are all affected. This has caused chaos for our economy, our livelihood, and our original plans for the year. And it feels unmanageable for many of us.

It’s tempting to just sit and wait. Because how can you make a plan when you don’t know what will happen next? However, the one thing that hasn’t changed is our ability to adapt, and we can use this to create new goals and make a plan that works for us now.

The capacity to modify our behavior is something we are all born with. In fact, it is one of our greatest childhood gifts. As a baby we use it to move from crawling to walking.

It’s the same skill we use to wash our hands more frequently and maintain a safe physical distance. We practice flexibility when we decide not to watch the news and listen to a positive podcast instead.

Many of us have used this muscle to move our work online during isolation.

In fact, behavioral flexibility is considered one of the five principles for success[1]. Used together with sensory awareness, we give ourselves maximum potential to achieve success.

The good news is, by embracing this flexibility muscle, you can make a plan in any situation. This includes times when you feel you have no control, like now. It’s just about staying aware and adapting as you go.

Here’s how to get started.

1. Plan Your Outcome for the Year

Beginning with the end in mind and working backwards is a well-known strategy to achieve success. Shared by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it is a habit that has stood the test of time.[2]

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Without knowing our target, it’s impossible to adequately plan or have influence over what we achieve.

This highly effective habit is essential, even in the current situation. No matter what is happening in your external environment, you can still decide on an outcome you want.

As you get clear on this and write it down, you will begin to notice opportunities to help you achieve it.

2. Be Realistic

When you set your goals, consider whether the timeframe is realistic. Sometimes our deadlines can be a bit too tight depending on things out of our control.

This doesn’t mean we can’t achieve them.

Based on your choice of strategies and your workload, you may be able to meet a very short deadline. Take a sensible and logical look at your goal and decide if the timeline is realistic. If not, change the deadline.

3. Don’t Map out Your Plan

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see at any time throughout any year. Through a desire for certainty, people map out their plans for the whole year, each step documented month by month. Mapping out the whole year is possibly why many people dump their plans during crisis.

If we do this, we leave no space for adapting as we move forward, and it limits our potential.

As we start to take action, our brain and our external environment changes. This means we become aware of greater opportunity, which could help us achieve even more. But we have to leave room for this possibility.

When we make a plan, we use smaller chunks and deadlines. This leaves room for adjustments, and we maximize our scope for success.

4. Make Your First 90-Day Plan

This means chunking your goals down into a 90-day plan only for your initial quarter. As you do this, you leave room to be adaptable with whatever comes up.

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It takes 90 days to build momentum. This means it will take three months to see a result from a strategy we use. This is an unconscious concept, but we can use it to consciously help us stay on track and propel forward.

Divide your year into four quarters, starting from where you are now. Then for each 12-month goal, decide what outcomes need to be achieved in the first 90 days only.

Write the goals down and decide which strategies to use.

5. Chunk It Down to the First Month

Different sized chunks of information motivate different people. Some people feel more compelled by big picture goals. Others feel more motivated by shorter-term goals.

Those who love longer term tend not to chunk goals down and may take haphazard action. Those who love details find it difficult to see the big picture and can get stuck.

The most successful way to make a plan is to use both large and small chunks.

By chunking your goals down to what you will achieve in the first month, you can feel a sense of achievement much earlier. This keeps you on target and encourages you to achieve more.

Check your 90-day goals and set goals for the first month that align with them. Write them down in your planner to help them stick in your mind.

6. Break It Down Again

Notice how we only set goals for “firsts,” and this includes our first week.

It’s a natural tendency to want to plan out the whole month, but don’t. This can seriously keep you stuck or put far too much pressure on you.

Plus, remember there is always more than one way of achieving something. There are opportunities we won’t even see until we’ve achieved something else. This means if we map the month out, we can limit ourselves.

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Setting goals just for the first week leaves heaps of room for the unforeseen, and that means we can modify it to suit changing situations. It also means we can feel good about ourselves at the week’s end as we look at all the ticks. Our unconscious mind loves that!

Write outcomes for the first week into your planner that will help you achieve your goals for the month.

7. Plan and Structure Your Week

This is where many people come off track, especially when things are changing rapidly.

With a list of goals and no structure to follow each week, it’s easy to become distracted. If we don’t plan each day, we can go a whole week feeling like we’re getting nowhere.

Structuring our week and forming a routine can also greatly improve our health. Some of the benefits include better stress levels and better sleep[3].

When we structure each week and day, we feel like we are getting somewhere. This motivates us to keep going, even when the unexpected arises.

Write a plan in your journal for what you will do each day of the week to achieve your goals. This is where you can chart it out on a daily timeline and create a routine.

8. Reflect and Readjust Your Plan

This is something I recommend you do at least at the end of each month. However, when things are changing rapidly, it’s necessary to do this more frequently.

Using our awareness and flexibility regularly, we can make the most of any situation by looking at how we can change. We can make adjustments fast to keep up with the external environment and things we have no control over.

We are also able to see where mistakes have been made or if we can tweak something slightly to maximize results.

This is why we don’t map the year out. It gives us much more flexibility to respond positively to external changes.

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At the end of each month or more regularly if you need to, look for what has worked and how you can do more of it. Consider what didn’t work and how you can change it. See what you need to start doing or stop doing.

Then, write your plan for the following week or goals for the following month to include those changes.

9. Rinse and Repeat

When you reach the end of your 90 days, rinse and repeat. Make a plan for the following three months and chunk your goals down in exactly the same way.

As you continue to do this, you will notice you boost the momentum you have already built. You will feel a huge sense of achievement, and this will spur you on to accomplish more.

You may notice by this stage that some of your goals may have changed slightly, and that’s okay. Remember, as you take new actions your awareness expands to see new potential. This may change your shorter-term goals because you have found something better.

That’s a good thing and all part of being flexible, so run with it.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re currently surfing the COVID-19 crisis or another challenge entirely, you can still make a plan by adjusting.

More than this, planning without flexibility can get in the way in any circumstance. This includes the good times because nothing is static.

As you plan while allowing space to readjust to external changes, you will find your results are pleasantly surprising.

More Tips on How to Make a Plan

Featured photo credit: Felipe Furtado via unsplash.com

Reference

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Deb Johnstone

Deb is a professional mindset speaker and a transformational life, business and career coach. Specialising in NLP and dynamic mindset.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Feeling Stuck in Your Career? How to Break Free and Get Ahead

Have you ever caught yourself in a daydream where you’ve gone for that upcoming promotion, and you’re now the boss at work? Or how about the one where you’ve summoned up all your courage to quit a job where you’re feeling stuck in your career and live your dream instead? Or when you’ve changed career paths to do what really makes you happy?

Then, you snapped back to reality and realized that you’re not the boss, not living your dream, and not even happy in the career path that you’re on.

Over the years I’ve worked with hundreds of individuals who’ve told me they feel stuck in their careers, that something had to change for them to break free and be happy, but they lacked the confidence to take that step. My mission is to make sure that nobody feels stuck in their career because of a momentary lapse in bravery that’s dragged on for too long.

Read on to find out how you can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work. .

Here are my top ten tips for becoming unstuck in your career.

1. Make Time for You

If you’re feeling stuck, frustrated, or unhappy with how your career is panning out, the first step is to work out why.

Maybe you’ve arrived in your current career by accident and haven’t ever made time to deliberately think or plan what you’d love to do and how you’d get there.

Prioritizing time to think is the first step you need to take to stop feeling stuck and start getting ahead. Book some time into your day where you can have an uninterrupted meeting with yourself. This is your thinking time.

Work out what makes you happy at work, what doesn’t, and where you might want to go. Decide on the steps you want to take to progress your career in the direction that you want it to take.

For example, are there training days, evening courses, or online learning that you can do? Have you considered getting a mentor to help you get ahead?

By booking in a meeting with yourself, it signals it’s important (to you and your colleagues) and also stops others spotting a gap in your day and filling it with a meeting.

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2. Grow Your Network Before You Need It

Who you know is more important than what you know for career progression. Don’t wait until you’re feeling stuck in your career to start expanding your networks. Do it now.

Adam Grant, the author of Give and Take, says you’re 58% more likely to get a new job through your weak ties than through your strong ones. Your strong ties are those in your immediate circle whom you interact with often. Your weak ties are your friends of friends. They move in different circles to you, they know different people, make different connections, and are more likely to introduce you to new and different opportunities[1].

When I was thinking about setting up my current company, Lucidity, I turned up to every networking event. I drank a lot of coffees with a lot of different people to understand what they did, to ask for advice, to unpick what their problems were, and to look for opportunities for collaboration and connections.

It paid off because, when I launched my business, I let my network know how I could help them, and soon I had my first clients.

Pay attention to building and nurturing your networks and focus on how you can add value to other. That’s where your next career opportunity is most likely to come from.

3. Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire You

According to Tim Ferriss, “You are the average of the five people you most associate with,” and his associations with different people ebbs and flows depending on what he’s working on and trying to achieve[2].

For example, if you are trying to be fitter, it’s easier if you hang around with people who love doing exercise–they help you to up your game.

If you want that promotion, a career change, or to set up your own business, seek out people who are excelling at it already. They’ll have valuable things to teach you about breaking free and getting ahead.

4. Work on Your Personal Brand

Jeff Bezos defines a personal brand as “what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” People will talk about you when you are not in the room anyway, so you might as well be deliberate about what you’d like people to say!

Your personal brand isn’t about pretending to be something you’re not. That can actually keep you feeling stuck in your career. It’s really about being your best “real you.” It’s about owning your strengths and being purposeful about how you want to be perceived by others.

What do you want to be known for? By being more deliberate about how you want to come across and what you’re looking for in your career, you’ll increase your chance of attracting the right opportunities.

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Once you’ve given your personal brand some thought, make sure that you show up online. Is your LinkedIn profile up to date? And if you don’t have one, get one. Make sure it communicates what you want to be known for and that it’s consistent with your other social media profiles.

Try these 5 Steps to Master Networking Skills and Perfect Your Personal Branding.

5. Be Accountable

Achieve your career goals faster, and grow and learn by making yourself accountable. Tell other people your goals and a timeline. and have them to hold you accountable.

For example, you might want to get a promotion by the end of the year, have decided the sector you want to move to by the end of the month, or have got your new business idea before the next pay day. Whatever your ambitions are, you can tell a friend or a colleague, or share this with a mentor or a mastermind group.

When we tell other people our goals and intentions, they hold us accountable, and we are more likely to make progress faster.

6. Make Sure Your Values Are Aligned With Your Company’s

All the professional development, goal setting, and networks in the world won’t make you happy if you’re working for a company that ultimately has opposing values to yours.

Figure out what’s important to you in a job. For example, does your company’s product help people live a better life? Do you feel strongly about your company’s ethics and social responsibility? Does the company culture allows employees to be themselves and shine? Or maybe flexible working and more holidays for employees with families is where your heart is?

Some companies put their employees well-being at the core of their business; others put profits first. If you feel that your values don’t match the core values of your employer, it could be a reason why you’re feeling stuck in your career and unhappy.

It’s important to work through this and identify whether it’s the job that is not right for you, or if it’s a great job but the organization or sector is wrong for you.

7. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Your comfort zone is your safe place. For any change to happen, you have to step out of your comfort zone.

It’s actually much easier not to change anything and to keep grumbling on about how you’re stuck and unhappy in your career than to step outside of your comfort zone to address the fearful unknowns associated with change. It’s part of human nature that we’d put up with the devil we know rather than risk the devil we don’t.

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This is true even if the devil we know is a boring, unfulfilling job because we’re wired to think that making a change to find a better option might actually leave us worse off.

If you feel stuck, it might be that your confidence has got the better of you.

To get ahead at work, start taking small steps outside of your comfort zone. Consider what you’re scared of that is stopping you from making a change. Then, tackle that in small steps.

For example, if you know that to move into the job you want, you’ll have to do more public speaking, but public speaking terrifies you so much it’s stopping you from going for the job, then start small to build your confidence. You can speak up more in team meetings, then slowly build from there.

You might also choose to set up or be part of a specific group. One of my clients, who found that confidence was holding her team back in achieving work goals, set up a “get out of your comfort zone club,” where they challenge and support each other to build their confidence by regularly leaving their comfort zones.

8. Learn to Embrace Failure

Failure is part of life. A New York University study found that children learning to walk averaged 2,368 steps and fell 17 times an hour[3]. Failure is simply the natural path to success.

The truth is that we don’t get everything right the first time. We fail, we learn, we pick ourselves up, and we try again.

In my experience, it’s common that whilst the theory of learning from failure is supported, the reality of being open about failures to enable personal learning is much harder to achieve.

We don’t like to admit that we’ve failed. We have a fight or flight response to failure. It’s a normal gut reaction to ask ourselves: “Will I get away with it if I don’t tell anyone?” We are fearful of criticism, of losing face in front of others, or even being fired for failure.

However, if you’re going to stop feeling stuck in your career, you must be open to learning from failure.

Reframe failure by viewing everything as an experiment because you can’t have a failed experiment—you just learn whether something works or not. Think of Edison inventing the lightbulb, when he said:

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“I’ve not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

9. Build Your Resilience

Resilience is the ability to tackle difficulties and setbacks, to bounce back, regroup, and to keep going.

Getting unstuck in your career, taking a different path, and achieving the results you want will take resilience. Having resilience is also the capacity to choose how you respond to the unexpected things that life throws your way and adapt and thrive in times of complex change.

Given that the world we live in is in constant flux, and the only thing that is certain is uncertainty, the ability to adapt and bounce back is an important life skill, as well as a career skill.

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth’s research shows that when measuring success, the ability to persevere beats talent every time.

Learn more about how to build resilience in this guide: What Is Resilience and How to Always Be Resilient (Step-By-Step Guide)

10. Ask for Help

It can be hard to ask for help, as it can make us feel vulnerable.

No one person can be expected to have all the answers. That’s why we need a group of people that we can go to for help, people who can pick us up when we have setbacks and also help us to celebrate success.

My advice is to be deliberate about creating your group. You can do that with a tool called a “Me Map”:

  1. Write down all the things that you might need support with, like help with career progression, interview practice, making new connections, talking through business plans, learning from failure, etc.
  2. Next to each thing, write the names of the people you go to when you need that particular thing.
  3. Make sure you get in touch and regularly connect with them.

Final Thoughts

You can stop feeling stuck in your career, break free, and get ahead at work by applying the tips in this article. Start small by incorporating three new things in your first week, and then adding more as your comfort zone and capacity expands.

Remember, no matter how stuck you feel, it’s never too late to make a change and land the career that you truly want.

More Tips to Stop Feeling Stuck in Your Career

Featured photo credit: NEW DATA SERVICES via unsplash.com

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