Once you have set your goals, it’s important to lay out the action steps that will lead you to achieving them.
In last week’s post, “Be Goal-Driven,” I discussed the concept of setting challenging, achievable goals as you are preparing to create a successful year ahead. I stated that goals are the foundation that you must first establish before moving ahead into the next 365 days.
Today, we move to the next part of the plan – the actions you need to take to achieve your goals. Last week I said that we must “plan our work, and then work our plan.” The “plan our work” part is the establishment of the goals. These are the things we are hoping to accomplish by a certain time/date. This is where it all starts.
The “work our plan” part is where we focus on actions. These are the actual steps that we must take in order to achieve the goals that we have established. Once we know where we want to go, we need to figure out how we are going to get there. While the analogy can make it seem like we are talking about a direction in which to go, what we are actually talking about are the actions we must take that set us on the path to getting where we want to go.
A Journey to Our Goals
Let’s use the analogy of traveling on a path toward a goal a little longer. Let’s say I have a goal to visit my family in the Midwest. In order to achieve that goal, I need to figure out what my best actions will be. First, I need to decide when would be the best time to go. I need to take the action of looking at a calendar, checking out my schedule, contacting my family to figure out their schedule, and then work out any other parameters that will determine the optimal time for the trip.
Next, I need to figure out how I want to travel. Do I want to fly or drive? Again, I need to consider some different parameters, such as cost, time commitment, how long I’d like to stay, etc. These are a few of the actions that start me on the path to achieving my goal. However, there are more.
Let’s say I decide that I am going to drive from my home in Montana back to the Chicago area. Let’s say that I have decided that July of this coming summer would be the best time for my family and me to make this trip, and we prefer to drive. Now, I figure out a route that works best. Do we want to make it the quickest trip possible? Then we will want to take one of the two interstates that take us from here to there.
Or do we want to combine this trip with some sight-seeing along the way? Are there any places between here and there that we have not seen that we would like to? This might cause us to take some other routes along the way. It also will add some time to the trip. Do we have enough time built into our schedule to do this?
The next “action steps” for making this trip will also take some thought and preparation, things such as:
- Scheduling time off from work
- Deciding on the best vehicle to use
- Prepare the vehicle for the trip.
- Budget money for various expenses
- Decide where we are stopping along the way
- Plan to stay with family, or reserve hotel rooms if needed
Of course, there is much more to consider for a trip like this. The point is: the goal is visiting family/friends back in the Midwest. The action steps are all of the things that I need to do to make that trip happen. Without the goal, I don’t have any actions to take to get me there. Without the actions, I don’t have any chance of achieving the goal. The one needs the other to occur.
Goal Setting Action Steps for Coaches
So how does this relate to coaches, teachers, and leaders? First of all, we must establish goals for our teams and for ourselves. Like in the example above, without a goal, I have no specific direction to go. Visiting family in the Chicago area gave me the direction I needed to go. But then, I needed to have a plan to achieve that goal. That plan is comprised of the action steps that I will take to get there.
Coaches are the same way. We have a season ahead of us in which we will be leading our teams in competitions. We will certainly want some goals for these, but there are many more elements that comprise an athletic season than just the competitions. We will spend a lot of time in practice, meetings, and traveling to and from competitions. We will want to figure out goals for how we will all get along in a variety of elements. Athletics also teach life lessons to kids. We will want to figure out some goals for how best to learn those lessons that an athletic experience can teach.
Action Step Examples for a Team Goal
Let’s consider a goal you may have for a season and look at some of the potential action steps that you might want to take to achieve it. Let’s say one of your goals is to establish a culture of trust on your team. That’s a good goal for any coach and team to have. Establishing a goal like that can go a long way toward creating a positive experience for everyone involved in your program.
However, if you stop there, nothing will happen. You must determine the action steps that will help you reach that goal. So what are some things that you might consider doing to reach that goal?
First, you will want to communicate the concept with your team. Let them know that one of your goals is to create more trust on your team. Tell them that this goes for you, them, the other coaches, the managers, and anyone else associated with the program.
Then, talk to them about what trust looks like in an athletic program. You will certainly want to give them your ideas on the concept, but you will definitely want to hear from them what it looks like. You might choose to have them write some things down anonymously first. That way they can say exactly what they want to say without fear of repercussions (a problem we see in many environments that lack trust).
Then you could have team meetings before or after practice to discuss some of those issues that were written down and allow people to discuss their thoughts. Once you have had a good discussion on the concept, you could ask questions like the following:
- What can I do to establish more trust with you?
- What can the coaches and I need to create a more trusting environment?
- What can you and your teammates do to help create more trust?
Allow all members of the team – players, coaches, managers – to speak. Again, let them write things down if they are not comfortable speaking in front of everyone else. Take notes, put comments down on a whiteboard, video, tape audio of the discussion, or do anything else to create a record of what is discussed.
Then figure out a plan of action. Come up with activities that will help increase the level of trust between team members. Do a self-check on what you do and need to do to build trust. Empower them with actions they can take to increase trust. Make this a regular part of your time together each week. In other words, take the goal that you have established and figure out actions that you can take on a regular basis that will help you accomplish that goal.
The goals you establish will give you a direction that you want to go with your team. However, it is the action steps that you take in the direction toward your goal that will allow you to achieve it. This is a crucial step in the process of achieving your goals. Next post we will discuss another important step – turning those actions into habits.
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