You’ve determined your SITUATION (1 & 2) and clearly defined your MISSION. The third soldier tested strategy in this series is EXECUTION. This section is where you establish the plan and describe how the battlefield will look throughout the mission. For the average Joe, this is where you explain the steps you will take to accomplish your goal. Below is an outline to help plan the steps to make your goal actionable.
- Describe the overall plan from start to finish including TASK & PURPOSE.
- Restate your mission and the broad strokes of how you will accomplish it.
- Identify the projects and steps you will take to reach the desired goal.
- Break projects into smaller more manageable elements and then into specific tasks. These tasks are the everyday items you can accomplish without putting a ton of thought into it.
- Tasks need to be actionable.
- Begin each task with a verb or word that requires action.
- Examples include: call, write, buy, pick-up, send a message, etc.
- Actionable items provide quick wins as you check items off your task list.
- You see immediate results.
- Define the main elements and the supporting elements.
- Describe the decisive point of the operation.
- What does everything in your plan hinge on?
- Timeline & Back Planning
- End Time: When will you accomplish your goal?
- Time Needed: How long will each step take?
- Rehearsals: What needs to be prepared in order to begin?
- Movement/Link-Up Plan
- Coordination with team
- Establish meetings/check-ins
- Where will you meet?
- When will you meet?
- What will you do when you meet
One way to make your sub-goals actionable is to build a habit. Habits, whether good or bad, stick with you. Once something becomes a habit, you do it automatically without having to put in much thought. The most successful way I’ve found to start and keep a habit is known as the Seinfeld Strategy. In short, this strategy has you setting up a large calendar with every day of the year. Each day you complete your action item and put a big X over that day. After a few days, you’ll start to see a chain of Xs.
After the chain begins to form your only goal is “Don’t Break the Chain.” Studies suggest that it takes roughly 21 days for you to create a habit. This method can keep you on track as you measure your progress toward your goal. I use this method to encourage my children to keep their bedroom clean, and it works wonders. No matter how you establish your sub-goals, remember to use actionable steps to measure your progress toward the final goal.
Plan 30, 60, 90 Days in Advance
In the military we are constantly focused on the mission. We have to plan far in advance to ensure that we have the resources and personnel available to complete the mission. Living on purpose is no different.
I schedule a monthly meeting with myself. This is blocked out on my calendar on the last Sunday of each month. I reflect on the previous month and then look 30, 60, and 90 days into the future. I look at my goals and outline the next actions I need to accomplish in order to make progress toward my larger goals. I then fill in my calendar with time to plan, hold meetings, make calls, send emails, conduct research, etc. The monthly meeting has become one of the most important time management tools for planning and achieving my goals as a National Guard Leader and a Civilian.
[reminder]How can the steps above help you reach your goals?[/reminder]