How To Set Achievable Goals By Creating An Action Plan

By April 8, 2010General

Apolo Ohno didn’t hope himself to the Olympics.

He didn’t sit on his couch, with Olympic anthem playing softly in the background, close his eyes, clench his fists and hope as hard as he could…until, finally, the U.S. Olympic committee called him and offered him a spot on the team.

Even with all his amazing talent, he still needed more than hope to become one of the most medaled Olympians in history.

1. Plan it all out.

We can’t just set goals and hope we achieve them. We need to create a detailed plan of action for each goal.

Step 1: Select one aspect of your mission statement and set a goal you can accomplish this year.

Most goals fail because they aren’t planned out. We pick a big goal and take the first step, but we don’t plan out all the steps in between. When an obstacle arises, we’re caught off guard, lose momentum and often give up.

Step 2: Use these questions to plan your goal:

  1. What is the first step I need to take to reach this goal?
  2. What is the last thing I need to do to reach this goal?
  3. What are the steps in between?
  4. What obstacles might I face? What will I do to conquer them?

2. Break It Down

Just like most of you have cut up the food on your child’s plate to make it easier for them to eat, you need to “cut up” your goals to make them easier to achieve. Every step needs to be a bit sized chunk that doesn’t discourage us.

Step 3: Make EACH step bite-sized.

For example, if I wanted to write a book about the Alamo and I planned it all out, one of my steps might be “Visit the Alamo.” But I might never make that visit because I am overwhelmed by the idea of planning the trip.

More often than not, if we find it difficult to act on a goal, it’s because our steps are too big.

So, if I’m putting of my novel because my next step is the Alamo trip, I need to sit down and break that step down.

  1. Request time off work.
  2. Book hotel.
  3. Buy airline tickets.
  4. Pack.

Ah. That’s much more doable.

3. Inspire Yourself

Write down why you are pursuing your goal. Be detailed. When you are feeling unmotivated or discouraged, read it and let yourself be inspired again.

Remember that success is accomplished one step at a time. The choices you make TODAY matter. You will have to make difficult decisions. You will have to work hard. You will face obstacles.

But consistent forward progress always results in success.

4. Write It Down

Take a piece of paper or open a document on your computer. Write down your goals, steps and inspirations.

Print it out and post it on your fridge for both you and your family to see.

Knowing others are expecting you to work towards your goal will keep you inspired and motivated.

Conclusion – Living With Purpose

Rita never finished college. She started, got married, had kids, quit school and never went back. She always wanted to, but she kept putting it off. She thought she’d be too old. Maybe it would be too hard.

Finally, her husband put his foot down and said,”Rita, you WANT to finish school, why don’t you just do it?”

“If I start now, I’ll be 64 by the time I finish!” Rita replied.

Her husband smiled and said gently, “You’re going to be 64 someday whether you have a college degree or not.”

Our children will grow up. We’ll grow old. Time will pass one way or the other. Let’s make sure we’re spending it purposefully.

What is one goal you’re working toward?

Leave a Comment



  • Kat says:

    I’m working on helping my children have a regular morning quiet time. It’s going well for my early riser, but we still need to figure out what will work best for my sleeper.

  • Leslie says:

    I’m working towards not letting my homemaking get in the way of me being a mother, which is first in my mission statement. Not sure how to break this down into manageable goals……..also still trying the ‘getting up early’ thing.

  • Kat says:

    Do you mind if I brainstorm with you? I realize I don’t know your exact situation, but maybe these thoughts will spark some ideas for you…

    What if you set certain times in which you do homemaking things and certain times in which you focus on mothering. Or you could create ways to merge your homemaking and mothering (cleaning with your kids, cooking with them, letting them decorate a certain spot in the house etc.)

    Small goals could maybe be “only clean during naptime” or “cook 1 meal per week with the kids”

    You’re working on some really great goals. Way to go!

  • Leslie says:

    Thank you Kat! Those are great ideas……I was overwhelmed, because I am a major perfecionist when it comes to my clean home……I am wanting to work on it all the time….`

    • Kat says:

      I’m probably what could be called an occasional perfectionist. When I feel like I’m focused more on other stuff when I should be focused on my kids (which, sadly, is more often than I’d like) then I take them out somewhere. I can’t clean the zoo (and thankful for that), so I’m pretty focused on them when we’re there.

      It’s also fun now that my girls are older because cleaning actually has become a fun activity to do together.

      I hope you’re soon able to conquer those feelings of being overwhelmed!

  • Crystal says:

    Very inspiring post! Love the detailed steps. I’m headed to set some goals now. Thanks so much!
    .-= Crystal´s last blog ..Starting a Daily Schedule… =-.

  • This may sound extremely basic, but one of my goals is to have a routine of four basic chores every day: make the master bed (this is for my husband), wash dishes/clear counters, and quick clean the bathroom (wipe whatever is dirty and put clothes towels in the wash), and do one load of laundry. I also want to do 15 minutes of straightening up or decluttering each day.

    This keeps my house looking tidy with minimal time spent, and makes it easier to deep clean when I need to.
    .-= Kim @ Staying Home´s last blog ..Diaper Deal Alert =-.

    • Kat says:

      You have figured out the KEY to setting great goals…make them extremely basic. If they sound too simple, then they’re perfect!

      Funny, you’re house cleaning goals are pretty much the same as mine. Even down to my husband making the bed. I do need to get better about wiping down my bathroom counters regularly, though. Thanks for the reminder.

  • AshleyF says:

    Great tips ladies! Always looking to streamline my cleaning routine, and feel my self feeling overwhelmed all the time! Just feel like I don’t have enough time to spend with my girls and have enough time to do everything that I think needs to be done around the house!
    I think my goal needs to be working on being more patient with my three year old, and working harder on teaching her about God and praying more with her and for her and her sister.

  • Sam says:

    My current goal is to rise early(I’ve made it my goal for the month of April, but hope to make it a regular, year round thing)…I’ve completed a week with only 1 missed day(due to a puking child during the night). I’m inspired by how well the first week went and all that results in the rest of my day due to rising early. It’s been amazing!

  • Brianna says:

    Okay, this sounds crazy, but honestly, my goal this week is to set a realistic goal. I am finding myself sort of overwhelmed about all of the things I want to do and be. Family things have happened and I’m struggling to rediscover the focus in the midst of the change. And I feel I am kind of scrambling to remember the focus I had when I made my mission statement. So — I’m really glad you had us make a mission statement when you did! Anyway — that’s where I’m at.
    Thanks, Kat, for the very, very practical inspiration.
    .-= Brianna´s last blog ..Abundant Spring =-.

  • Jamee says:

    I am going back to step one………honestly, I never wrote a mission statement. And I want to. I am committing the next hour to writing.thinking.praying about who I want to be.

    Thanks for the encouragement, as always, Kat!!

  • genevieve says:

    I hope this will help me.
    My husband and I have been planning to build a home for 7 years.
    And thus far it is not yet built and I think we are overwhelmed.
    Reading this looks like a good jumping off point.
    thank you!

  • Denise says:

    I know I’m very late to the game here, Kat. Just subscribed to your blog and I’m really looking forward to applying what you are writing about. I actually wrote a mission statement almost a year ago, but I struggle with seeing how my weekly goals really coincide with my mission statement, or the dream sheet I wrote out at the beginning of the year. Do my dreams (like “Make curtains for the house”, or “Plan and maintain an herb garden”, or “Develop stronger friendships with other women”) really reflect my mission statement? I think they actually do, but I need to write them incrementally before I can see the connection. Why do I want to do them? If the “why” leads back to my fundamental purpose, then I can jump in and do it guilt free. If not, then maybe it’s time to cross that one off my list. By the same token, the mundane tasks seem so unspiritual that I don’t get around to them very well, either. I need to see how those things really are part of the big picture for what God has for me to do.