I have lived my life by the simple statement “Make a goal, create a plan, and execute.”  For the most part, this statement has served me well. Throughout my professional and personal life I have found that if I set my sights on achieving something (e.g., promotion, graduate degree, motorcycle license) and I had the motivation to create a plan to get there the execution was easy because I already knew what I wanted and I created a map to find my way.

As I started my entrepreneur adventure I found that more than ever I would have to rely on my goal-setting skills to keep myself and company on track.  I knew that my method entailed more than just making a goal, creating a plan and then executing.  I really wanted to think about the process of achieving goals and here are the keys that I found really help me to succeed.

Think like a Cartographer

Having a goal is great, but without a map to get there you can feel lost.  To avoid this road hazard, I spend a good amount of time figuring out the discrete steps, or landmarks, that will help me reach my goal.  I look at where I am today to where I want to be outlining all of the tasks I will need to complete to find my way to goal success.  This also allows me to identify potential barriers and areas where I might need to ask for directions, help, and support.

Use Tools to Stay on Track

Once I know what steps I need to take to accomplish a goal I like to use tools like the ToDoist app to list my tasks, set due dates, and track completion.  For those of you that love making “to do” list (I am guilty) an app like this helps to put all of your tasks in one place which will keep you organized and on track.  Please note that I do not have a stake or connection with ToDoist.

Procrastination awareness

I will be the first to admit that I suffer from procrastination from time to time.  The key is being aware that you are procrastinating and to figure out why so you can get back on track.  When I find myself doing something other than what I planned for the day (e.g., amazon shopping or other easier tasks) I check-in with myself and ask “what am I avoiding?” With that information I can look for ways to overcome the barriers causing me to procrastinate and get myself motivated again.

Know yourself

We all know that to achieve a goal you are going to have to put in the work.  Achieving a goal is already hard enough if you are not bringing you’re A-game.  I know that I work best in the mornings so I front load my day with the more taxing tasks that I need to get done in support of my goals and leave the afternoon and evening for the easier things to complete.

Have a support network

I was one of those people that tended to do everything themselves and rarely asked for help.  Now while I have a lapse every once in a while I have learned the value in having a support network.  It is difficult, and lonely, to travel any path alone.  Engaging with colleagues, mentors, business coaches, and friends helps to clarify goals, stay on track, and celebrate successes.

Joy Papini, PhD, is the President of CIDIS LLC, a Management Consulting firm located in Reston, VA.  For more information please visit www.CIDISConsulting.com.