Goals are important. They are the means through which you convert dreams. Goals help you decide the specific steps you should take to get to the specific outcome you desire.
The process of planning itself require different steps. These allow you to realise if your goals are achievable, measurable and realistic. When planning you’re making assumptions about the future, but changes might force you to reconsider and modify your plans hence the need for constant reassessment.
The first step in building a plan is to define your objectives.
You should have a clear vision of what you want to obtain. You should draw specific goals and they should be measurable. You should plan how often you should measure your progress and how. They should be expressed in a positive way – what you want, not what you don’t want-.
Next, evaluate alternatives.
Ask yourself if there are other ways to achieve your goals. Analyse each option and grade them by assessing how difficult each alternative would be to implement.
Step three is to identify resources.
Find out what resources you need that will help you execute your plan. Make a list of the resources you already have and the ones that you will have to acquire. Where will you find the resources you need? At what cost?
These resources can be books to help you study, people you might contact to help you in your language journey as mentors, teachers or simply someone who can take care of the children while you’re attending your language course at university, for example.
Also evaluate the time you have available. Is it enough to achieve your goal? if not, how can you create enough time?
You should also assess the qualities readily available in you to help you achieve the outcome you desire. List the skills you already have and the capabilities already at your disposal.
Step four: plan and implement tasks
Define the tasks you will need to do to achieve your goals. What is the sequence you should follow to complete these tasks?
Step five: how are you going to monitor and evaluate your results?
You should have in place ways to determine and register your progress. You should also evaluate where you might encounter difficulties in executing your plans which might cause delay to your overall goal.
You should also consider the impact your plan will have in your life, your family and friends.
The last, and maybe the most important step is to act.
Once your plan is established, you should start putting every step into practice. This is what transforms a dream into reality. To do so you need the secret sauce of motivation. Therefore, your goals should be attainable when planning them because if they are unrealistic you should soon find out and your motivation will fizzle away.
Remember to review your plan regularly and make modifications as required. This is why it is called the planning cycle.
Now let’s have a look at the benefits of planning.
Planning maintains your focus.
You know what you want to achieve, you have stripped your goals into steps that are manageable. It is mapping your journey into measurable milestones.
You have specific objectives and action items to be implemented. You are working towards results.
It is less easy to go sideways now that you have a step by step plan to follow. You know exactly what daily, weekly and monthly activity that you will have to accomplish. You become more efficient.
It allows you to have a better perspective of your goal.
Your goal does not look like a fictional concoction any more it becomes concrete and more tangible hence reachable. It brings clarity.
It is empowering
You feel in control as you know that it only depends on you and your actions to get the desired outcomes. It allows you to grow and improve.
It keeps you motivated
You get a powerful sense of accomplishment when you tick off your tasks and short-term goals because you’ve accomplished them. It shows you that you’re getting closer to your end goal and this thought keeps you going.
It establishes accountability.
Through regular assessments you know what is expected. It is like a written contract with yourself. You can always go back to it and be aware of what you’ve achieved.
Many people abandon their language journey due to a lack of direction, concrete objectives, a firm schedule and most of all an unbreakable commitment to themselves. Making a language learning plan can prevent you to fall in this category.