Set any goals for 2020? Whether you made a concrete SMART goal, chose a specific word for the year, or just hit refresh on all of last year’s goals, the real test of whether or not you’ll achieve them lies in your plan for implementation.

What is implementation?

Well, the dictionary tells us it’s “the process of putting a decision or plan into effect; execution.”

Implementation is the nitty gritty of actually DOING the actions necessary to achieve what you’re hoping to accomplish. Lack of implementation becomes crystal clear when you do things like…

  • Vow to write your book before March 1, and then don’t start until February 27.
  • Commit to transitioning into a new job no later than next month, polish of your resume, and then forget about it.
  • Create a 25 page document outlining the goal, the plan, the steps, and the goalposts, and then don’t do any of it.

As you can see, lack of implementation can mean doing nothing (or very little), making a moderate effort and then throwing in the towel, or putting in massive energy at the front end and fading off soon after.

Do you recognize yourself in any of those?

If you’ve ever failed to achieve one of your goals, it’s likely that you do!

Personally, I’ve been most likely to do the third one. I create a plan, I have a clear vision, I’m raring to go…and then life happens and I’m tired and I lose that little edge of excitement….and then it’s over.

As I’ve grown, developed, and learned a thing or two about myself, however, I’ve gotten better and better at sticking with things and actually getting the results I was looking for. In fact, I’ve started to realize that being able to implement strategies and information in a way that allows me to achieve my goals is one of my biggest strengths!

Last year I left my teaching career (that I was no longer enjoying), successfully started a VA business, developed a blog and podcast of my own, launched a mastermind, and got accepted into graduate school. I set goals that I achieved, changed my life in the process, and opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility.

Here are my top three takeaways for achieving everything I set out to acheive:

  1. Make the decisions that need to be made, then move on. Whether this means making a short list of grad schools to apply to, choosing between Squarespace and WordPress, or picking what color to paint the house – DO that. This is not the part of your goal that should be eating up your time and energy, so make it quick. Set aside a specific amount of time for “research” – 2 hours, a full day, possibly a weekend – weigh your options, ask around, then make a decision and move forward. For every single choice you make, there will be people in full agreement, and people who think you’re crazy. Whenever there is a choice, you can find people on either side of the line. Make the decision that feels right for you and your budget, then move forward. BOOM.
  2. Create plans that make sense for your life. Ideally, any plan of action you make should fit on a single piece of paper. Realistically, your plan should clarify the next few steps you’re taking, how you’ll know when you’ve achieved them, and a date to sit down and formulate your next few steps. If you’re currently exhausted and have about 10 spare minutes every day, don’t create a plan that requires you to put in 3 hours. If you know you won’t be able to get the heart of your goal until you’ve completed certain trainings, reached out to certain people, or taken care of specific things, then start there. Set a timeframe of a few weeks, lay out what needs to happen, and focus on making it happen.
  3. Talk about them! Too many people want to wait it out, test the waters, or “see what happens” BEFORE they get around to actually sharing their big goals with others. I 100% understand that tendency, but I also know that all that secret keeping and minimizing takes a toll on your own motivation. You don’t need to broadcast your dreams and goals to the world, but you should be sharing them with others who can support, encourage, and cheer you on.

These three tasks may seem small, but they’ve had a huge impact on my ability to make change a reality in my life.

Let’s look at a real life example.

Last year, I wanted to start a podcast. I had been wanting to for a while, but it just “never happened”, as these things are so apt to do. My biggest hang up? I didn’t know how, and I was overwhelmed at everything I didn’t know.

One day I decided I was over that – you can always learn what you want to learn, I have a computer and the internet, and I was going to make it happen.

Via Google, I found a Pat Flynn article that had these gems (he described them as the 30,000 foot view of a podcast):

  1. Choose a topic you can commit to.
  2. Define your show description and artwork.
  3. Set up and thoroughly test your equipment.
  4. Create a plan for your episodes.
  5. Record your episodes.
  6. Edit and publish your episodes.
  7. Launch your podcast to your audience.

Per step 1 above, I went into decision mode.

It was early afternoon, and I committed 3 hours to accomplishing steps 1-3. I decided on mindset and the power of perception, used Canva to create a free graphic, and decided to call it Rorschach Your Reality.

I also “tested” GarageBand by making sure it worked, pulled out the headphones I use for VIPKID, and decided to record a practice episode. BOOM.

The next day I got up early and gave myself 1 hour to map out a plan for my first 12 episodes, then set a completion date that was about two weeks out for when they needed to be done.

Around this time, I was taking my actual life into account (step 2), to make sure my plans were achievable.

I committed to having 12 pre-recorded episodes ready to go before I took my podcast live. I wanted to know that I was serious about sticking with it before I took the next steps.

When my first deadline approached, I had a show name, graphic, and 12 recorded episodes. I had also joined a great online podcast community, where I was asking questions and learning more about the actual publishing side.

Around here things got diverted a bit. I tried to learn audio editing and it just wasn’t clicking with me. I realized I would want a website to host my episodes on, rather than just using a generic site’s show page…but I couldn’t figure out how to use WordPress. This is where goals get lost!

By this point, the only thing I hadn’t done was share much.

I had told my husband, who always supports me, but not anyone else. In May, I told a group of college friends that I really wanted to start a podcast. I didn’t share that I had recorded 12 episodes, or that I was stuck. I just shared it was a dream, and they responded with so much enthusiasm, excitement, and general graciousness that I got amped up all over again.

From the airport terminal on my way home I dug in, making decisions on audio editing (accepting less-than-perfect so I could do it myself), my website (service exchange with a site designer who needed copy for her own site), and using Squarespace (so I could actually make adjustments on my own without fear of breaking it).

Back on track!

Whatever your goals are for this year, I would strongly encourage you to implement these three simple steps:

Make the decisions that need to be made, then move on.

Create plans that make sense for your life.

Talk about them.

Hannah Hassler is an Integration Coach helping humans deconstruct unconscious fears and mindset blocks in order to fully integrate their deepest desires & unachieved goals so that they can live their fullest lives.