In this latest installment in the Management Development series, Strategic Partner Charles Thompson explains the importance of creating action steps to achieve goals and bring solutions to fruition. This entails not only setting realistic timelines and target dates, but it also means anticipating and managing potential roadblocks like procrastination and frustration. Like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, sometimes we need to tap into our inner courage to be successful!

Last week we discussed the importance of goal planning for success in your business and your personal life. The next important step in your goal planning process is to convert your goals into realistic and measurable action steps.

Action steps are those systematic tasks we determine help lead us to accomplish our goals. Obviously, a critical element in this process is establishing timelines when each step will be accomplished. Once you have established realistic timelines for each action step, it is necessary to incorporate that information into your personal planning system. This is an important step to insure that you can easily track your commitments and the associated timelines.

Now you are ready to establish the target dates for your individual goals, based on the time necessary to complete the action steps associated with each of your business or personal goals. Give yourself enough time and build in your timetables the ability to address the unplanned or overlooked steps in your process. Remember to be flexible! Adjust your schedule where appropriate and constantly review your action steps as they relate to your overall goal.

Impediments to achieving your action steps and the associated goals will invariably occur. Our understanding of the forces that may be at work and how we can overcome their adverse impact is important to achieving success. Procrastination leads to reduced self-motivation as we put off those things we already determined were important to us. Some of the elements of procrastination include:

• Laziness-if you fall in this trap use your goals, and the potential rewards or consequences of not achieving your goals
• Apathy-maybe you need to reevaluate your direction if your enthusiasm is lacking
• Fear-the greatest cause of procrastination
• Fear of the unknown-change the unknowns into knowns to reduce fear
• Fear of failure- part of the process to achieve success, great people fail many times before they succeed
• Fear of rejection, and fear of criticism
• Fears are common; always work to overcome them

How you deal with frustration will set the tone for your success, affect your attitude, and productivity. Take these steps to protect yourself from the negative effects of frustration:

• Take responsibility
• Set realistic expectations
• Strive for excellence
• Maintain a positive attitude
• Remember your successes

Finally, courage is that character trait that enables you to face challenges and obstacles, speak up instead of remaining silent, try new ideas, pursue your dreams, and face your fears. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish anything!