I was with a coaching client yesterday who was struggling to focus on his longer-term goals. As we discussed the issues and obstacles he was facing, three things became apparent:

  1. He hadn’t defined his goals sufficiently clearly;
  2. He hadn’t created a plan to achieve them; and
  3. He hadn’t established any accountability for their implementation.

Instead, all of his goals, the issues – both real and imagined – that he associated with them, and all the uncertainty of their delivery were simply floating around in his mind, creating stress, guilt and confusion.

As a result, he reflected, he was simply spending his time addressing and responding to the daily noise of his boss’s and customers’ emails and voicemail messages. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t making him feel satisfied or helping either him or his company to improve performance.

Ninety minutes later we had addressed all three issues and he left the meeting energised with a clear plan for delivering the objectives that were most important to him.

Here’s how you can turn your hazy goals into specific plans within an hour or so:

  1. Give each of your top 3 goals a name. For instance, we called on of my client’s goals Sales Growth.
  2. For each of these goals, identify 3 or 4 specific results you’d like to 12 months from now. Again, one of my client’s results was to grow sales of new products from 8% to 12% of total sales in the next year.
  3. Establish a 90-day plan for each of these objectives. For my client, the key to NPD sales was to improve and deliver the training and awareness of his sales teams over the next three months. Turn this plan into specific actions that you – and an accountability partner – can review every two weeks.
  4. Establish an accountability partner. Share your goals with this person and ask them to hold you to account. In fact, you might want more than one partner. After all, the more you publicise your goals, the better the chance that you’ll deliver them. Your partners may, and probably should, include your line manager.
  5. Review progress against your plan with your accountability partner(s), making necessary amendments along the way. As you reach the end of the 90 days, establish your next 3-month plans and repeat the process.

At the end of this year, my client will have made huge strides against his big personal and business goals. What actions are you taking to deliver your longer-term goals as well as your more immediate priorities?

© Stuart Cross 2013. All rights reserved.