Making a Plan of Action to Achieve Goals

Updated: Mar 1

When you have a goal you want to accomplish, how do you go about it? Where do you start? Do you write out a step-by-step guide on how to achieve it? Or do you simply wing it and hope for the best?



GOALS VS DREAMS


Goal setting is something that is talked about frequently, but I think its characteristics are just as frequently forgotten. There’s a difference between a goal and a dream. A dream is an idea that you would love to see come true, but you don’t put much effort or emphasis on its specifics other than imagine it from time to time. There’s nothing wrong with dreams— I like to think of them as vision boards for our minds— but they are lacking in the details that can help us bring them into fruition. A goal, on the other hand, is also an ideal that you would love to see come true, but there’s more to it than just an image.


Goals require steps and timeframes. If you set a goal to add 30 new clients to your books, but you don’t create a plan or give yourself a deadline, it will very easily just become a dream (or a wish, or a thought) that never ends up happening. Goals require plans of action. So let’s talk about making that plan.


MAKE A PLAN


When I set a goal, I like to work backward. I don’t think about where I am now and how to get to the goal, I imagine myself at the achievement and think about the steps I would have taken to get there.


For example, when I was getting ready to graduate esthetics school, I wanted to move to Houston and work for a specific medical spa there. I found it while browsing online one night, and after researching it, I realized it was my dream spa. I knew that I needed to work there, and I would not be satisfied with anything else. So I set a goal and made a plan.


My goal was to be working there within one month of graduating. I was graduating in March, so I knew that in April I would be living in Houston and working at that medspa. Before I could work there, I needed to pass my state boards in Texas. Before I could do that, I needed to graduate and pass the Utah state boards. That meant I needed to set aside specific time to study and go to state board practice classes. I also needed to study my regular schoolwork so that I would pass all the tests and assignments I had left there. In order to make that happen, I couldn’t take on extra shifts at work like I was used to— My priorities had to shift for a while so that I could ensure my goal would be achieved.


On top of passing my state boards and graduating, I had to pass an interview. Before I could even get an interview, though, I needed to have a killer resume and cover letter— one that would make me stand out amongst all the other online applications I was certain they would be receiving. To ensure that my resume and cover letter were noticeable, I scheduled appointments with the dean of students and spa manager at my esthetics school. I asked them to review my resume and give me tips on how I could improve it, and then I applied their advice.


To prepare to pass the interview, I attended the career workshops my esthetics school offered. I also reviewed notes from classes I had taken in the past that were related to interviewing skills. I even role-played interview scenarios with my mom. I planned out exactly what I would wear and how I would do my hair and makeup.


Working at this medspa was incredibly important to me, so I thought very specifically about every detail. I knew it was likely that more experienced aestheticians would be applying, and I had to go above and beyond with my professionalism to get their attention and stand out.


When the time came for me to apply, the only opening they had was for a front desk receptionist. I was disappointed, but I applied anyway— I knew that if I wanted to work there as a treatment provider, getting my foot in the door as a receptionist would be better than not applying at all and waiting until my ideal position opened up. I sent in the application and hoped for the best.


A few days later, I got a phone call from their Human Resources representative to schedule an interview. I remember I happened to be sitting alone in the break room at school, and when I felt my phone ring I knew it was the medspa before I even looked at it. I scheduled the interview for 10 days later, booked a flight to Houston, and worked my ass off to finish all my hours in time and pass my state boards in time.


Things went really well at the interview. I felt great and confident about my accomplishments and about communicating them to the regional manager. About halfway through the interview she asked, “I know you applied for front desk, but is that really where you want to be?” I told her that I wanted to be a treatment provider, but I would take whatever I could get to get my foot in the door. She then told me that they were just about to open a position for another treatment provider, that they hadn’t started interviewing for it yet, but that she wanted to offer it to me if I was interested.


And just like that, I achieved my goal.


Okay, it wasn’t as simple as “just like that” makes it seem. I put in a lot of time and effort, not to mention a lot of money to fly back and forth, move, get an apartment, and start a new life in a city I had never lived in before. But it was absolutely worth it because that was the most phenomenal position I held as an esthetician (outside of working for myself, of course!). I learned so much, grew leaps and bounds in my confidence, knowledge, and skill set, met amazing people, and learned so many lessons that shaped me into the esthetician and person I am today. It may seem like it was really easy to swoop in and get hired, but as you can see from the plan I created, it took a lot more than hope and a dream.


AVOIDING OVERWHELM


Sometimes making a plan of action can be daunting. We think it will be a good idea to do something, and then as we start writing out the plan and we see just how much time or just how many steps it requires, we get overwhelmed and go for something simpler or something that is more of a sure thing.


I know this feeling and I know it can be debilitating. Overwhelm is very real and it can cause us to abandon things that are actually really important to us. When I start writing out a plan of action and I see all the steps I need to take, I can always feel the anxiety and stress start to build up inside me. But I’ve learned to change my perspective. I’ve taught myself that I should feel overwhelmed by a task or goal that doesn’t have any steps, because then there is no clear path or starting place. When I have each task written out in chronological order of what needs to be accomplished first, I can focus on little things at a time, as opposed to worrying about the huge picture of the goal.


START SMALL


If this concept is new to you, I suggest starting small. Set a goal that has a timeline for one day. Maybe it’s to upsell one client, or to get one referral. Then determine a plan that would cause you to achieve that goal. Perhaps you could come up with an incentive program to offer. But ultimately, you’ll need to communicate with each of your clients, so create a plan about what you could say to each one. If you get nervous about talking to your clients about things like that, set up a role-play with someone you trust. The more you practice talking about referrals and upsells, the easier it will be to sound authentic when you talk to clients about them. Write down your goal the day before you set out to accomplish it. Write it down again that morning so it is fresh in your mind. And then go for it. Talk to each of your clients and follow-through with your plan. At the end of the day, evaluate how it all went. What did you learn? Was there anything you could have done differently? How many upsells or referrals did you end up with? Is it a goal you want to continue for the next day? Maybe one referral was too easy— what about getting 5? Or 10?


Daily and monthly goals should be reevaluated at the end of each time period. You don’t want one that is too easy— that isn’t going to help you grow your business or your confidence. Many people say you shouldn’t pick one that’s too unrealistic, either, but I’d rather have one that is too hard than too easy. Think about it— If you set a goal for selling $50 worth of product this week and you achieve it, that’s cool. But if you set a goal for selling $500 worth of product and you fail and only sell $375, that’s still a lot better than reaching a $50 goal, right?


GOALS NEED TIMEFRAMES


Another thing I want to emphasize is that goals need a timeframe. If you don’t give yourself a deadline, you’re more likely to put it off and not ever get around to achieving that goal (and then it turns into a distant dream, as opposed to something attainable). As I mentioned above, you can have daily or monthly goals (short term goals), but you can also have long term goals that span over the course of months or even years. Goals can be recurring, like in the example above of selling $500 in product every week. They can also be one-time-only goals, like getting hired by that amazing medspa in Houston. Regardless of whether it’s a recurring or one-time goal, it needs to have a deadline. It’s also a good idea to set deadlines for the steps on your plan, too. This will keep you on track so that you don’t fall behind and get overwhelmed.


WRITE IT DOWN


I also recommend that goals be written down and referred back to regularly. Show your heart and mind that the goals are important enough to you to be documented. It’s easy to go back on something you say or simply think, but it’s harder to forget about something that is written down in a place that you see regularly. I like to write notes on my bathroom mirror. If there is a goal I want to accomplish or a specific step that I’m working on, having it on my bathroom mirror allows me to stay connected to it and remember what I’m working toward.


TELL A MENTOR


Sharing your goals and plan of action with a mentor or friend is another way that can help you stay focused and accountable. It’s easy to let your goal slip through the cracks if you’re the only one who knows about it. When you have an outside party checking in on your progress, you’re more likely to stick to the plan and achieve the goal.


YOU ARE WORTH IT


Setting goals and making plans takes vulnerability. It’s hard to admit to yourself, let a lone a mentor or friend or anyone else, that you want to reach for something that may be far outside your grasp. You wouldn’t be thinking about that goal if you were totally satisfied with your situation, but sometimes we tell ourselves that the risk of failure isn’t worth the progress we may possibly achieve by working toward the goal.


As you work through the fear of vulnerability and the fear of possibly failing, please remember that you are worth the effort. You and your goals are real and they are inside your head and heart for a reason! You are capable of so much more than you know right now, and setting actual goals with actual plans will play a huge role in helping you see your capabilities.


Set the goal, make the plan, and watch yourself grow in ways you never thought possible.


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