Sometimes our biggest life goals seem so overwhelming.
We rarely see them as a series of small, achievable tasks, but in reality, breaking down a large goal into smaller tasks—and accomplishing them one at a time—is exactly how any big goal gets achieved.
After you have decided what you really want, with specific deadlines, the next step is to determine all of the individual action steps you will need to take to accomplish your goal.
How to Chunk It Down
There are several ways to figure out the action steps you will need to take to accomplish any goal. One is to consult with people who have already done what you want to do and ask what steps they took. From their experience, they can give you all of the necessary steps as well as advice on what pitfalls to avoid.
Another way is to purchase a book or manual that outlines the process.
Yet another way is to start from the end and look backward. You simply close your eyes and imagine that it is now the future and you have already achieved your goal. Then just look back and see what you had to do to get to where you now are. What was the last thing you did? And then the thing before that, and then the thing before that, until you arrive at the first action you had to start with.
Remember that it is okay not to know how to do something.
It’s okay to ask for guidance and advice from those who do know. Sometimes you can get it free, and sometimes you have to pay for it. Get used to asking, “Can you tell me how to go about…?” and “What would I have to do to…?” and “How did you…?”
Keep researching and asking until you can create a realistic action plan that will get you from where you are to where you want to go.
What will you need to do? How much money will you need to save or raise? What new skills will you need to learn? What resources will you need to mobilize? Who will you need to enroll in your vision? Who will you need to ask for assistance? What new disciplines or habits will you need to build into your life?
Another valuable technique for creating an action plan for your goals is called mind mapping.
How to Use Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is a simple but powerful process for creating a detailed to do list for achieving your goal. It lets you determine what information you’ll need to gather, who you’ll need to talk to, what small steps you’ll need to take, how much money you’ll need to earn or raise, which deadlines you’ll need to meet, and so on—for each and every goal.
When I began creating my first educational audio program—a breakthrough goal that led to extraordinary gains for me and my business—I used mind mapping to help me “chunk down” that very large goal into all the individual tasks I would need to complete to produce a finished product.
To mind-map your own goals, follow these steps as illustrated in the example:
- Center circle: In the center circle, jot down the name of your stated goal—in this case, Create an Audio Educational Program.
- Outside circles: Next, divide the goal into the major categories of tasks you’ll need to accomplish to achieve the greater goal—in this case, Title, Studio, Topics, Audience, and so on.
- Spokes: Then, draw spokes radiating outward from each mini-circle and label each one (such as Write Copy, Color Picture for Back Cover, and Arrange Lunch.)
On a separate line connected to the minicircle, write every single step you’ll need to take. Break down each one of the more detailed task spokes with action items to help you create your master to do list.
Next, Make a Daily To-Do List
Once you’ve completed a mind map for your goal, convert all of the to-do items into daily action items by listing each one on your daily to-do lists and committing to a completion date for each one. Then schedule them in the appropriate order into your calendar, and do whatever it takes to stay on schedule.
Do First Things First
The goal is to stay on schedule and complete the most important item first. In his excellent book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, Brian Tracy reveals not just how to conquer procrastination but also how to prioritize and complete all of your action items.
In his unique system, Brian advises goal setters to identify the one to five things you must accomplish on any given day, and then pick the one you absolutely must do first. This becomes your biggest and ugliest frog.
He then suggests you accomplish that task first—in essence, eat that frog first—and, by so doing; make the rest of your day much, much easier. It’s a great strategy. But unfortunately, most of us leave the biggest and ugliest frog for last, hoping it will go away or somehow become easier. It never does. However, when you accomplish your toughest task early in the day, it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
By chunking down your goals, and then taking daily action on them, you create momentum and build your confidence, both of which move you farther and faster toward the achievement of your goals.
Now go take some action!