Dreaming big and setting lofty goals can seem intimidating. At home, a personal goal may seem extremely difficult or impossible in your current situation. Mobilizing different groups to execute towards a work project may seem like an insurmountable game of cat herding. Today we’ll help you break down those big goals in a way that makes the work and stress manageable so that you can hit your goal. 

Start from the end


Before embarking on your journey, clearly define your end goal. Whether it’s a career milestone, a personal achievement, or a project completion, having a well-defined objective is what everything else will be built on. Be as specific as possible when thinking of and dreaming of that end goal. Instead of losing weight, have a specific amount and a date to achieve the goal. With a project, be specific on what you want to deliver by a certain time. “I want to have $3,000 saved in 6 months for emergencies.” “We want to run a pilot on mobile-friendly technical support for our employees in 16 weeks.”

Identify your milestones


Once your end goal is established, break it down into key milestones. These are significant achievements or checkpoints that, when reached, signify progress toward your ultimate objective. Each milestone should be distinct, measurable, and representative of a distinctive advancement towards the goal.

In the pilot project example above you may identify your key milestones as designating the pilot group, vendor selection, securing funding, completing integration work, training and socialization, and rollout.

Looking at the breakdown above you’ll see that they are significant achievements that signal progress and accomplishment. Each milestone becomes a strategic stepping stone, allowing you to gauge your progress and adjust your course as needed.

Determine necessary actions


With your milestones in place, identify the actions required to reach each one. Consider what needs to be accomplished at each step and the resources, skills, or support necessary for success. This detailed understanding of the necessary actions transforms your goal into a series of manageable tasks.

Let’s take our first milestone from above of designating the pilot group and break it down into actions. We’ll first need to determine how large of a pilot we want to run to get a clear indication of if it’s successful and scaleable. Next, we’ll want to pull data on where the most calls for support are coming from. We then need to partner with the business leader to align on the pilot group. They may have requests or changes based on their better understanding and context of what is going on. 

Create a timeline


Establish a realistic timeline for achieving each milestone. Working backward requires a strategic allocation of time, ensuring that you have adequate resources and opportunities to complete each task. A well-structured timeline provides a sense of urgency and helps you stay on track. Many organizations break down the work into two-week sprints. This injects a sense of urgency to get the work done and keep the work going at a quick pace. 

Set your timeline for each milestone and then add up all the time. How did you in relation to your initial end goal? We stated that we wanted the pilot to roll out in 16 weeks, but let’s say that after we dig into the milestones and actions we come up with a timeline that is 20 weeks long. They must equal the same amount so now you have a choice: do you condense some of the work or extend the project?

Time to execute


With a clear roadmap in place, prioritize your tasks based on their importance and dependencies. Execute each step, focusing on one milestone at a time. Prioritization ensures that you allocate your energy and resources effectively, minimizing the risk of feeling overwhelmed.

Starting out with your goal and drawing a plan backwards, is a great way for you and others to see the work in manageable sections and how they stack on each other to reach your ultimate goal. Remember, success is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about the meaningful steps you take along the way.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH