Fail to plan or plan to fail - what to do?

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Goal setting is only half the battle, so many people set goals and then wonder why it is they don't achieve them.

New year is a great example! I'm going to lose weight, I'm going to stop drinking, I'm going to save money, I'm going to exercise more, I'm going to quit smoking, I'm going to get organised, spend more time with family and friends, work less!

But its like anything else, once you've set the goal, you have to make a plan to get you to the goal. What are the steps you are going to take to actual realise the goal.

To make a plan you have to coordinate you schedule, habits and environment to help you reach the goal. You have to have the structure around the goal in order to meet it.

Planning is all about knowing your why and then your how.

Reviewing any goal is listing out all the reasons why you want to achieve it. Does is align with your values and your "Why" - your purpose in life. If it does, then the next part is easy, "How". This is your action plan.

The reasons why new year resolutions fail is because you set your "what" I want to lose 2 stone, because I'll fit into my clothes and it will mean I can run around with my children and not feel breathless. Then you stop. It’s the action bit that will mean success, often it’s the "how" that lets you down.

Planning is the difference that makes the difference.

Whilst in my mind it’s a seamless flow and if you ever work with me, then you will know, you never leave a sessions without an action plan. It's vital for success. But so often we set a goal and then never move to the planning. Planning is different and requires different ways of thinking and often clients find to be quite uncomfortable. Suddenly I ask questions like, "when are you going to do that?" "What time are you going to do that", "what resources do you need to achieve it?" "what obstacles are you facing?" "How are you going to make this task exciting?"

"What's your reward this week for completing the task?"

The devil is in the detail and the detail is where success lies.

How to make an action plan, what to include.

So I'm doing a course, which includes several essays that I need to do, with one big essay at the end. I have 1 year to complete the course.

So working backwards, on 1st April 2020 I want to have written my final essay and completed all the modules within the course.

So is my goal smart?

Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely?

The Plan

Be specific and realistic

To complete all my modules and essays I have to write 5,000 words per month. Is this realistic to do given I have a job, family, life?


Create milestone to mark stages along the road. For me it's about creating small success markers to keep me motivated through the journey.

So every 2 weeks I will see if I've written 2,500 word, or 1,750 per week.

Create manageable chunks

Break the task down into small chunks. Sometimes it seems overwhelming and daunting what needs to be done, so break it down into something that you feel comfortable with.

So I have to write these words, but I need to read certain things, so I break it down into articles and books I need to read first.

Write it down

Personally I love a list and I write everything down, but it helps in order for you to hit your milestones.

Make the list manageable, but also put beside it your timeline, specifics and actions.

For me, I like it to be detailed - Monday I will read xyz chapters, Tuesday abc chapters etc.


These are key to success. Be specific about your timeframes and your deadlines, otherwise like me, I just fill the allotted time with all sorts of stuff and never complete tasks.

Be realistic about your timelines, no matter how fast I read, I can't read a book in a day - so be honest about what you can do.


My plan is written down normally on a calender which is by my desk. I love having a visual of what I have to do, so I can see it regularly to keep me focused.

Cross stuff off

As I'm going along, I love nothing more than crossing things off that I've done, or highlighting those that are still to do.

Keep a record of what you do.

For me it's easy as I have a folder and as I write each essay it's printed off and placed in the appropriate folder, but I keep with it, my notes, research etc that means I know where and what I was looking at.

Keep going

You have it all in place, now all you have to do is do it.

Be consistent and persistent, but also flexible. Life will get in the way, suddenly a holiday/sickness will come your way, so be prepared to shift and reschedule your plan.

Finally, be kind to yourself, sometimes life can knock you sideways and at times like that you need to acknowledge where you are and then revise and review your plan. Be flexible, kind and compassionate with yourself and success is only a plan away!

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. If this post has made you think and you would like to make a change, then contact me and we can have a free 30-minute chat about how I can help you and then start working together with some 1 2 1 coaching. Find the power within to change - why not do it today.

About the Author Elizabeth Pickering is an Executive Resilience coach, who helps people find success, focus and balance in their life. I take them from feeling overworked, overwhelmed, stuck and stressed to feeling energised, empowered and falling in love with life again.Working with sole traders, business owners and entrepreneurs, I keep them on track towards their goals, giving them energy, focus, motivation and the freedom to enjoy their life.

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