Goals without plans are a fairytale.

– Gbolade Ogunfowote

This is a four part series, these are all the posts in this series:

Values. Goals. Actions. (1)

Values. Goals. Actions. (2)

Values. Goals. Actions. (3)

Values. Goals. Actions. (4)


Values → Goals → Actions → Habits → Results

We’ve discussed Values, we’ve talked about Goals. The obvious next concept is Action right? No!

It seems like a no-brainer that after setting SMART goals, we can jump in and execute, but often than not that leads to failure because:

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Plans of execution are very important even though they aren’t in the process chain above. I’m in love with the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of what a plan is:

A detailed proposal for doing or achieving something.

The first thing that stands out about a plan is that it’s a proposal. A proposal is more often than not a written document given to another party. In the same vein, when developing an execution plan, we need to write a proposal to all parties involved (mostly ourselves) that explains how we want to take action, the sequence of actions we’re going to take, and the several alternative actions that may exist to achieve the same goal. Remember SMART goals, it should be called SMART plans cos it’s the plans that are in place that make your goals SMART.

A plan helps us in the following ways:

  1. Ensures that actions and goals are in line with our values.
  2. Gives us direction.
  3. Helps us discover multiple ways to achieve our goals.
  4. Defines our expected outcome.

How To Plan

1) Define the Goal, Recognize the Value

This step can be referred to as SMARTening your goals. In this stage of planning, you must ensure that the specific goal is specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound. Once all this has been done, you review which of your value(s) this goal meets. This will serve has motivation to stick it out till you achieve your desired results.

2) Needs Analysis

Two simple questions: What do I have? What do I need? If you notice, what you have comes first before what you need, because often times, we underestimate the latter and overestimate the former. If you’re serious about achieving your goals you have to learn to improvise as much as possible and make do with what’s available to you in the moment, sometimes, you may have to work to get some things you need. This phase helps us to recognize opportunities that may be well within our reach and work hard to get resources needed to achieve our results, but the golden rule here is improvisation and resourcefulness.

3) Sequence of Actions

Once we know our goal is kosher and we know what’s needed to achieve it, then we get to planning out our actions. When most people refer to planning, this is the phase they usually have in mind. There are several schools of thoughts on this, some people propose having several paths i.e. plan A, plan B & C. Some people propose having just one path, and focusing on it with all we’ve got. I am more of the one-path kind of guy, but not in all and every case. Whichever way, you have to make decisions on the series of actions that would get you your result or the resources you need in order to achieve your result. I would also advise phasing. For every milestone (small step to your ultimate result) take a moment to do the process again. What that means is that to achieve a result, break it up into phases, and apply this three steps to each phase.


In the next post, we’ll examine actions, what they are (duh!) and how to do them.