Guest post by Todd Nielsen
Vision, strategy, and goals are important …but they are not enough. One of the greatest challenges in business—and frankly, one of the greatest challenges in life—is doing the things necessary to make one’s vision a reality.
To ensure the realization of your vision, you need to set up structures and processes that act as guardrails to keep you from falling off the path.
1. Get Organized
Before you begin down the path of execution, spend some time getting yourself organized by creating processes and checklists to help you stay on track. I use a daily planning agenda, a weekly planning agenda, and a social media checklist. I also set up recurring emails, as well software systems for tracking my progress and reminding myself of deadlines and tasks.
Meet with your key stakeholders to make sure they support not only your vision, but also the specific efforts you will be making to achieve it.
2. Tracking & Measurement
Consistently tracking and measuring your progress will help maintain motivation and keep you aware of how you’re advancing toward your goal.
There are many tools available to help you do this. From a simple checklist, a spreadsheet, mind-mapping software, project management software, or software designed for goal tracking. I use software called Goal Enforcer.
Whatever you decide to use, you need to configure it and set up specific processes for how you will use it: when you will record your progress, and how you will measure the advancement towards your goal.
Tracking is important because, as you measure your progress and gain greater insight into your journey, you may have to adjust your course and alter your plans.
It’s too hard to do this alone. Set up a regular time to meet with a coach or a partner to help keep you accountable. It can work well to make an agreement with a partner where it is mutual – where you help keep them accountable for their own plans and goals as well.
Choose someone who is genuinely concerned with the success of your vision, who will be brutally honest with you, and who will not accept excuses. Make agreements on how they will encourage you, keep you on track, and push you to do your best.
While you may think the thrill of achievement will be enough motivation to keep you progressing to the end; it is important to set up reward(s) for achievement of your vision, and/or smaller rewards as you reach certain milestones.
For me, I chose a trip to Europe or Asia, as my big reward for reaching my 2012 goals. Whatever your reward is, make sure it is big enough to keep you moving through the tough times. Creating smaller rewards as you reach milestones is also beneficial. Rewarding yourself for achievement is a much more effective alternative to beating yourself up for non-achievement.
These four strategies: getting organized, tracking, accountability, and rewards will help keep you on the path of execution to transform your vision into reality. The journey may not be easy, but the reward will be worth it.
Pleased to say I have 1 thru 4 in place now and they’re ALL working so well.
Good to see them listed concisely in one place.
Good job Susan. What tools are you using for tracking your progress?
Thanks for the comment!
My most important metric is how many hours each day I spend “in the zone” – meaning completely uninterrupted time I spend fully concentrating on writing, creating something, or planning/strategizing.
I use my own modification of the Pomodoro method – by setting a tomato timer for 1 hour at a time. At the end of each hour, I either reset it for another hour, or I stop. I keep track on my calendar each day. My try to get to at least 5 hours each day.
I also make list of the most important things I want to get done each week and each day, and I try very hard to get those things done. As time goes on, I get better and better at making realistic yet challenging lists. The things on them are component parts of the bigger lists I make for each quarter.
For all this, I rely on intrinsic reward, i.e. the good feeling you get within yourself when you’re pleased with your own efforts. I call that feeling “Mastery” – it’s high octane fuel for getting things done. You can read about it here if you like: http://bit.ly/sRC3Pj
Again, great post. Well done.
Well done Susan. It is great to associate with highly motivated individuals like yourself that know how to get things done. Stay in touch and thanks for the comments.
Todd, Thank you for outlining these steps. It is very easy for many of us to spend a lot of time creating a vision, but without the components you have mentioned, that vision can never become reality. It takes discipline and planning.
Hi Lyn, that is so very true. The world is full of great ideas and grand visions, but there are few that take the time to set themselves up for success.
Thanks for your comment!
Thank you for this post. Perfect timing for a few of our projects. Your article is clear, helpful and to the point!
Thanks for your comment. I am glad it will help with your projects.
Thanks for the post Todd. Reward, as you rightly point out, can sometimes be overlooked as we con ourselves into believing that the achievement will be reward enough. We do need to recognise the achievement and actually reward ourselves for getting there. Too often we can be so goal focused, and run from one to another and forget about actually stopping to celebrate the milestones.
Thanks for the comment Thabo. Being a highly achievement oriented individual myself, it took me a while to realize the value of celebrating small successes and rewarding myself for the big ones. It is important to think about these before one starts, therefore setting oneself up for greater success, than to wait until achievement arrives and find yourself busy with other things.
I appreciate the comment. I’d be interested in hearing some of the ways in which you reward yourself along the path.
Your article wouldn’t have been more timely. I am looking at revamping my regional team spread over 6 countries. When one is under pressure to get things done, the simple issues seem to fly out through the window. These 4 strategies have helped me a great deal to focus my thinking and leadership for my team. Thank you very much 🙂
Thanks Kimunya. I am glad that it provided value for you and your team. Please stay in touch and let us know how applying these strategies helped.
Developing a clear vision has always been a key focus of mine in moving to any new role and many who know me would say it is my Numbers 1 – 3 focus! But like Lyn, in an earlier comment, getting organised for delivering that vision has often not been as disciplined! So, these four strategies not only help me with that but also give me a framework to help others think about things they, and I, might forget! Really great insights so thanks very much!
And a big +K to Jesse Lyn for hosting – great blog and choice of guest post!
Thanks for the comment John. I am really happy you found value in it.
Great article! Away from theory very close to practice!Congrats!
Thanks Stavros. Therein lies the problem with most leadership articles and books, great ideas, poor ideas on how to execute. I appreciate your comment.
Great article. So often I recommend that entrepreneurs just ‘get on the bike’ – take action and get out in the market. However, your four tips are practical ways to plan for true success.
Thanks for the reminder!
Thank you Paul. It is true that some action is usually better tan no action, but properly taking the time to plan for ones success brings great rewards. I know far too many business owners though that make great goals, but have poorly plan and therefore they poorly execute.
I appreciate your gracious comment.
Great Article! Very relevent and timely for where I am in my personal journey towards my own Vision. Thank you for the inspiration and for the highly useful and timely tips.
I am glad it came at he right time for you Mark. Good luck in reaching your vision, follow these steps and I know you will be on the right track to achievement.
This is a great post, I am working on constructing a vision for a personalized learning environment. These four keys will make a great addition to the PLE. Thanks for succinct ideas.
I am glad the article was of value to you. Good luck on your vision for the PLE, and most importantly on executing that vision. 🙂
I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and insight. The information & guidance you’ve shared is exactly what I’ve been needing! Thank you again & may God continue to bless you with wisdom & the opportunity to share it!
Thanks Christy. I am glad you cam across the article and that it helped you. Good luck in all your endeavors as you work to complete realize vision.