“The difference between setting a goal and achieving it is in having a good plan and working it.” — Les Brown
We are all dreaming of achieving great things. That is a good first step. However, it shouldn’t stop with having dreams and setting goals. In order to achieve and realize the goals we envisioned for ourselves, whether that be in a year, five years, or ten years from now, we need to plan how to achieve them and commit to doing them. That is what sets high achievers apart from dreamers—achievers plan and act; dreamers just keep wishing for good things.
Goals are great for keeping us focused in the right direction. But having a clear plan of action saves us a lot of time in actually achieving them. The plan, in itself, is nothing. The act of planning is what’s important. It builds the discipline of consciously breaking down your goal, identifying the things you need to learn, and the resources you have to have, preparing for possible setbacks and roadblocks, and coming up with solutions to overcome those.
It makes you dig deeper and have a better awareness of what it is you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, where you are right now, and what kind of growing and learning you need to get from where you are to where you want to be. That awareness is indispensable if you want to stay focused and driven. Planning also helps us be more systematic and organized in achieving our goals.
When we have big goals, it can get overwhelming. Breaking them down into smaller, more realistic chunks helps us prioritize what needs to be done first, and gives us a clearer headspace to commit to working on getting things done.
Having a clear vision and knowing your why and how makes the endeavor less overwhelming, even fun. Setting a realistic timetable and deadline for your plans and goals can keep you focused and hold you accountable to actually do things. It is human nature to feel fulfillment in clearing objectives. That is why we find clearing missions in games entertaining and satisfying.
It is also important to write our goals and plans down. It can be on pen and paper, in your journal, or on a digital planning or note-taking app. The point is to keep a record of it somewhere that you can access easily and regularly. Because in between the planning and doing, we need to reflect and track our progress.
Humans tend to forget things over time. Having a clear record of our goals and progress helps remind us why we started something. It can also give us a sense of accomplishment to see our progress, or urgency to move things forward if we are lagging. Regular review and reflection also allow us to change plans according to our situations and contexts. It keeps our plans and goals (especially the big and long-term ones) updated.
There will always be new things cropping up, and things we did not foresee before, that we are able to identify and better equipped to deal with now. This practice of review and reflection also helps keep us grounded when unexpected things happen.
We know we can change the plan without changing the goal, and that gives us a better sense of control and confidence over any circumstances.
It is also important to build habits and routines that complement our goals. The small, everyday things we do automatically add up without much effort on our part. When our habits and routines align with our goals, we free up mental, physical, and emotional bandwidth for the small day-to-day things, so that we can focus more on the high-level stuff.
Fear is one of the biggest factors that hold us back from achieving great things. When we succumb to the fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or fear of being not good enough, we limit our potential. Shift your mindset to that of a growth mindset, instead. Challenge yourself to turn that fear of the unknown into the excitement of discovering new things. Change that fear of failure into joy in learning. Let go of that fear of not being good enough, and turn it into a thirst for growth and being better than you were yesterday.
And at the end of the day, keep on dreaming of that big thing, and shift from thinking of “One day…” into someone who focuses on “Day One.” Thanks for reading A Brilliant Tribe.