Simple Action Items to Accomplish Your Goals

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

–Abraham Lincoln

Do you have big dreams, but don't know how to get started or aren't seeing the progress that you desire? Or are you struggling to break out of your comfort zone and need a strategic plan of attack?

A common hurdle when pursuing a personal goal is converting a conceptual idea or vision of a goal into specific, actionable plan with defined steps.

The solution: SMART Goals.


SMART goals convert your idea into a well-defined, actionable plan to reach that target outcome. The SMART criteria include:

  • S = Specific                      Be as detailed as possible!
  • M = Measurable               What metric will you use to measure your success?
  • A = Active                         Ideally, these efforts are independent of others.
  • R = Realistic                     Do not overcommit yourself; you can push harder in the next round
  • T = Timely                        Structure your goal so that you can complete it within one week.

Evaluating Success

It is important to define a metric of success that is desirable to you. Many times, progress towards our goal can be quantified. However, sometimes the desired outcome is more qualitative, such as being more comfortable outside of your natural comfort zone - it is helpful to also evaluate your thoughts and emotions after completing SMART goals as another metric of success.

After implementing your SMART goal approach, assess your success. Did you complete your SMART goal? If so, great! You may consider creating a more challenging goal for yourself for the next week. If not, it’s ok! Reward yourself for what you did accomplish and think about what was challenging for you. Adjust your SMART goal to make it more realistic and actionable for the next week. The key is persistence!


Tackling Large Goals

Many large challenges can be broken into smaller SMART goals, which can be stacked to incrementally progess towards a greater accomplishment. In this instance, you can design your strategic approach in one of two ways:

  • Top-down approach: An end-point is reverse engineered by identifying smaller components.
  • Bottom-up approach: The immediate situation and resources are assessed to determine the first and subsequent logical actions.


Guide questions and Tips

  • Use a Passion Planner to plan action items into your schedule and hold yourself accountable.
  • Think about short-term personal goals and long-term life visions.
  • Are your efforts aligned in the same direction?
  • Are you balancing your personal and professional goals? Should you adjust the number of goals in either area?
  • Reflect about your approach for meeting a goal. What is working or not working? What does this indicate about you as an individual? Be flexible in experimenting with alternative approaches.
  • Reward your efforts! Improvement, even if small, is a success. 
  • Devote 1% of your time each day to an area that you would like to improve. Little contributions add up over time!
  • Switch the timeframe for evaluating your accomplishments. We can only accomplish so much in 24 hours, but you can cover a larger range of activities in a week.