Identifying actionable goals can be difficult if you don’t know what you want to achieve and if you don’t have a process in place. As engineers, we know that every successful project has a clearly defined project statement, scope, and process to deliver the intended results. The skills of project management, which we’ve developed delivering projects, can also be applied to defining and delivering our most important goals.
Project management uses an easy five-step process to guide projects from concept through final delivery. This process is successful in delivering projects in the work place and you canuse it in delivering your projects as well. Applying the principals of project management, you can define and deliver your most important goals. The process includes these steps:
Initiating. You initiate by defining your goal statement. Your goal statement includes all major deliverables, assumptions, objectives, constraints, stakeholders, and end date. Just like projects, the goal you’re aiming at may have more than one phase, so identify these and any major milestones as well.
Planning. With the goal statement in mind, turn to planning the resources, the duration, how to overcome constraints, who you’ll need to work with, what alternatives do you need to consider and plan for, what risks are involved, and how each deliverable will be created. The planning may be specific if you know all of the possible parameters involved, or can be elaborated as more information becomes available.
Executing. This step is simple: take action. Begin immediately executing your plan.
Monitoring & Controlling. In projects we use quality control and assurance to ensure the project work is proceeding as planned. Measures of time, cost, and scope are typically used to identify if a project is on plan or not. Depending on the complexity or your goals, you may be concerned about these same quantitative parameters. Or you may be more interested in the qualitative factors associated with achieving your goals, such as the satisfaction that comes from working towards achieving what’s most important to you.
Closing. Success isn’t achieved until the project is complete, whether in the work place or in our own lives. Your goal statement included deliverables, objectives and an end date. Closing out your goal requires that you meet these three elements.
Applied enough times, this process will become second-nature and you’ll find yourself quickly applying it against all of your goals, simple or complex. Face it: you have an unlimited number of things you can focus on, however, you have a limited amount of time to invest. If you’re serious about reaching your highest potential, you must identify your most important goals and generate a specific plan so you can maximize the return on investment of your most valued and constrained resource, your time.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” Alexander Graham Bell