It is a beautiful day and you are talking a walk in the park. You are following a path when all of sudden, there are large trees blocking your path. You can see the clearing just beyond this massive grove of trees. Then you notice the sign and it says, “Stay on the path and you will be successful in your journey.” You take a step back and notice that the trees are in groups; fruit trees, evergreens and hardwoods and that if you could navigate the different groups, you can stay on the path and reach the clearing on the other side.
Your business (and your life) can often feel like this park. You know where you want to go in your business/life and yet there are so many things to accomplish that you can get “lost in the woods.” However, if you take a step back and focus on what you need to accomplish, you will see that they can be grouped into different projects. By completing each of these projects, you will feel less overwhelmed and reach your desired outcome.
There are three components to a successful project:
1) Begin with the end in mind
2) Set milestones to measure your progress
3) Break it down into smaller pieces
Begin with the end in mind
Before jumping into your project, decide what you want as the outcome. This becomes your target (I like targets so much better than goals but more on that another time.) Then set a deadline. Deadlines can be used to your advantage and are proven to improve your success rate when trying to achieve your goals/targets.
A deadline is a time commitment by which your tasks must be achieved. They serve as a powerful reminder of not only what you are trying to achieve but that there is an end to the process. Project achievement is about setting a goal in a reasonable timeframe and building the plan to get you there. If you do not set a deadline and you leave it open, human nature will allow you to believe that you have unlimited time to achieve the results you desire and procrastination will take over.
It is proven that those who set deadlines (and meet those deadlines) were twice as effective at completing projects and meeting their goals as those who didn’t. Deadlines demonstrate commitment, accountability and urgency.
Set milestones to measure your progress
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to achieve a project is to just plow ahead with a grand idea without drilling down the steps you need to take every day to get there. If you don’t set milestones along the way with strong deadlines, you will not accomplish what you set out to accomplish.
Milestones allow you to determine the beginning, middle and the end for your project. Once you set mini-deadlines, you can gauge if you are on track with your desired outcome or if you need to make adjustments along the way. Making adjustments, in a timely manner, allows you to meet your overall goal of completing a successful project.
Milestones also show where you are in relation to your final destination. They keep you motivated to continue along your path. Imagine you are driving on vacation to a place where you know you will have fun and relaxation; you just need to get there. You see the sign that says, “15 miles to your desired location.” You become excited and continue on knowing that you are almost to your destination. Reaching each milestone for your project will keep you excited and motivated until you reach the end. Plan to celebrate each milestone as this will keep you motivated to get to the next one.
Break it down into smaller pieces
So we have determined that the successful completion of a project begins with having the end in mind and setting a deadline. Then you created your signposts to let you know you are on the right track and to keep you motivated. Now, let’s get down to actually working through the project.
Creating a webinar is an example of a project you may want to accomplish. Some of the milestones may include determining an audience and a topic, setting the date, creating the content, creating a landing page for the webinar, creating the follow-up email campaign, presenting the webinar and creating a follow-up strategy to name a few.
Now take your milestone of determining a topic that appeals and is needed by your target audience. How do you know what they want and what topic will provide information that is needed and positions you as an expert? Some of the tasks involved in determining a topic may include:
~ reviewing your emails or blogs for questions from your audience
~ researching what your target audience needs
~ creating a survey to determine what your customers want
By breaking the project down into smaller tasks, you create momentum. When you complete a task you move closer to the completion of your project. Momentum is important when you are working toward a goal. It is important to have consistent “mini wins” to feel successful. Success breeds success and keeps you from becoming overwhelmed by your project.
So the next time you feel that your path is blocked, take a step back and see where you are. Look for the next step toward achieving what you want. After all, it is by taking that one little step that you can often seeing your way “out of the woods.” Keep moving forward and you will reach your destination faster and with greater ease.
So what projects are you working on?