goal planning template for personal and organizational aims
To achieve a goal or a vision you must plan how to make it happen.
You cannot 'do' a goal or a vision. Instead you must do the things that enable it - usually several things, in several steps.
A goal without a plan remains just a goal - many people have visions, intentions, ideas, dreams which never happen, because they are not planned.
A plan makes things happen.
Goal planning can be especially helpful in advancing your career and job hunting, or staring your own business, or becoming self-employed or freelance.
A good plan identifies causes and effects in achievable stages. These need not necessarily be very detailed or time-bound unless the aim requires it.
Having a clear aim begins to define the plan.
For example: a large-scale short-term aim requires a plan with detail and strict timescales, whereas a goal to achieve a personal life change within five-to-ten years requires much less detail and scheduling, provided the crucial causes and effects stages are identified.
Plans can also be structured in different ways according to individual preference and the various planning tools and methods which exist. Detailed people prefer detailed plans. Intuitive people prefer broader more flexible plans. The section on project management explains some of the common more complex planning methods. Also see for example the SMART planning model, which provides an excellent simple basis for outline planning. The delegation tips also refer to SMART, and these pointers are helpful for setting objectives for yourself, aside from other people. Personal goal planning for yourself is rather like delegating a responsibility to yourself, hence the relevance of the principles of delegation.
Choose a planning format that you are comfortable using - and adapt and develop it as you need.
There is no point in adopting a complex spreadsheet if you'll not enjoy using it. Conversely, if you want to analyse lots of details, then choose a format which will accommodate this.
Whatever planing format you prefer, all plans begin as a simple outline, like the planning template provided here.
Beyond this you can add more detail and structure to suit your aims and preferences, but you must begin with a clear goal, and an outline of what will make your goal happen.
Whatever the aim, all good plans tend to include:
- A clearly defined aim.
- Linked steps or stages or elements - resources, actions, knowledge, etc - the factors of cause and effect.
- Relevant and achievable proportions and timings (for steps, stages, elements)
Note that the overall aim or vision does not have to be limited or constrained.
Where aims and visions are concerned virtually anything is possible - for an individual person or an organization - provided the above goal planning criteria are used.
Here is a simple outline goal planning template and process, which can be used as the full planning method for certain personal aims, or as an initial outline planning tool for the most complex organizational vision.
It is structured in stages. You can add more stages and elements (in other words the factors which cause things to happen) as necessary.
If any element is too big to imagine realistically achieving in one go, then break it down into further elements.
Even the most ambitious goals and plans are achievable when broken down and given time.
A plan to achieve a goal or vision is normally best developed by working backwards from the aim.
Ask yourself at each stage of the plan: "What must happen before this?"
And then plan to achieve each element, working back in realistic bite-sized elements, to where you are today.
goal planning template
the aim - level one
Define your aim - clearly and measurably.
direct cause factors - level two
Identify - clearly and measurably - the factors which would directly cause the aim to be be achieved.
enabling factors - level three
Identify the factors - clearly and measurably - which will directly enable the directly causal factors to happen or exist. It is natural for causal factors to depend on a number of enabling factors. The plan therefore develops like the roots of a tree, or the tributaries of a river. The numbering is merely a suggestion. Your own plan will be different. Some plans may contain lots more factors and levels - some plans will contain far fewer.
This is a sample template not a fixed structure - adapt and develop the model to suit your own situation. Add more or remove factors and levels as you need.
You should add a fourth level if any third level enabling factors are not already possessed and cannot easily be achieved.
Create your plan from top to bottom.
Implement your plan from bottom to top.
goal planning - in summary
Start with a clear aim.
Define it and understand what will cause it to be achieved.
Break down these causal factors and identify what will enable these to happen.
Ensure every listed item can be tracked back to achievable enabling factors - achievable in terms of size and time.
Remember that causal and enabling factors come in all shapes and sizes. If necessary research what they are for your own aim.
Success is mostly based on understanding what is required for it, before setting out to achieve it.
For example, enabling factors can include:
- decisions and commitments
- re-direction, re-allocation and prioritization
- attitude and outlook
- encouragement and support
- time and space
- maturity and wisdom
- energy and enthusiasm
- determination and persistence
- money and other assets
- mistakes and disasters - yes, mistakes and disasters can be very useful enablers, so it helps to see them in this way
Where you already possess an identified enabling factor, then re-direct and prioritize it 'upwards' towards your aim and the next relevant causal factor(s) in your plan. This can even apply for factors like money and time, where such enablers are often possessed but are currently misdirected or wasted. The decision and commitment to re-direct and prioritize become the enabling factor.
Conversely (and perhaps more commonly) if you do not possess a factor and cannot attain it easily then identify what will cause it to happen, and extend your plan to a prior level. Apply the logic of the planning method - identify the prior enabling factors, and extend the plan to a prior level.
Behind every factor lies a cause. When you approach any aim in this way it becomes achievable.
This is a simple yet powerful approach. Be careful what you wish for - if you follow this method you will get it.
- Goal Planner template tool (pdf)
- Goal Planner template tool (doc working file)
- Project Management
- Assertiveness and Confidence - useful for self-esteem and especially appreciating that less can be more, and that quiet under-statement can succeed just as well as brash dominance
- Brainstorming - for ideas and capturing possibilities
- Business Planning
- SWOT Analysis - very useful for strategic planning
- Acronyms for learning and amusement - always have something useful to contribute
- PEST Analysis - also very useful for planning
- Visualization and Self-Development
- Stress Management
- Erikson's Life Stages Theory - wonderful for understanding your future, and your past
- Cold Calling for Sales Training, Selling and other Initiatives
- McGregor's X-Y Theory
- Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs
- Personality Models and Types
- NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)
- Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences theory
- Kolb's Learning Styles
- Transactional Analysis
- Kirkpatrick's Learning Evaluation Model
- Job interviews - tips, techniques, questions, answers
- CV writing and job-hunting
- Performance Appraisals
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