By Lissa Cupp, vice president, e-Commerce & Consumer Marketing, ACCO Brands

Setting goals and planning for their achievement are important elements to successfully living the life you want. In Part 1 of this four-part series, we looked at the first step you need to take in order to make this happen: determining your destination. It’s impossible to set and reach your goals if you don’t know where you’re going, so we provided some insight and tips to help you out. In Part 2, we’re getting out the map and laying out the best route to take in order to reach your goals by asking you questions that will help shape your entire journey.

Mapping the Route

The best way to map out how you plan to reach your destination is to develop a simple framework that will identify the crucial elements which need to be addressed in order to succeed.

Using the previous example from Part 1 of work/life balance, make sure to correctly identify the different aspects of your life for which your goals are set. Aspects of your “Me Time” goals would address the different parts or components of your life, such as family, home, work and friends. Looking at time with your family, unique aspects of these goals could include health and fitness, learning and education, careers, and hobbies. For your children, goal aspects may key in on reflection and spiritual time, finances and community. As you can see, though many of your goals have similar desired outcomes (e.g., a better work/life balance), there are numerous facets of each which need to be addressed. Be sure to pick and choose the aspects of your lifestyle that most apply to your goals.

Once these are identified, it’s time to lay out the direction on your goal planning map. For each aspect of your planning, you should not only match it to the proper destination or goal, but you also need to determine the:

  • Methods: How will you get there?
  • Measure: How will you know you’re there?
  • Obstacles: What detours might come up?
  • Motivation: Why do you want to do this?
  • Timeline: When do you want to get there?

Let’s look at an area such as finances, for instance. Your goal may be to become debt free and/or have a balanced checkbook.

What methods will help you reach this destination? Think about what must happen in order to achieve the goal, then the next step and the next. For example, to become debt-free, perhaps you can get all of your debt organized by balances and interest rates, set an amount to pay down per month, or pay your store credit cards first and then concentrate on your Visa card. For balancing your checkbook, methods may include scrutinizing your last bank statement for extra charges and contacting the bank with discrepancies or questions.

How will you measure your success in reaching your destination? This is key—it’s how you will know you got there. For this example, your bottom-line measurement may be reaching a “zero” balance on all of your credit cards as well as maintaining a checkbook that is balanced with your bank statement every month.

What types of obstacles might you encounter along your journey? They may include unexpected expenses or your inability to curb your spending (not that any of us experience that!). Think about what can get in your way and how you’re going to overcome those obstacles. Maybe in one month, you see that you did not curb your spending, so you decide to spend only cash for the next 30 days.

What is your motivation for doing this? When finances are concerned, the answer is almost always less stress and more stability in your life. You really want to determine if this is something you are really committed to doing. Motivation = Likelihood of success.

What’s your trip timeline to reach your destination? If this goal is for 2013, you may set milestones like paying off store credit cards by June 1, and paying $100 per month toward your overall debt, not to mention starting the year with a balanced checkbook.

Next week, we’ll start down the route you developed today and help you determine what your “big rocks” are during your journey.

[photo by fabianmohr]

3 thoughts on “Navigating the Highways and Byways of Goal Planning—Part 2: Mapping the Route

  1. This is the best explanation of the planning process I’ve seen! Many of my clients are able to prioritize, but have no idea how to deal with goals on a daily basis. I think it’s easy to mistake activity for productivity, even when it’s not goal-directed.

Share Your Thoughts & Comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s