How to Break Down Goals Without Losing Your Mind

productivity May 13, 2021

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs


Thanks, Steve, but what if you don’t know how to go after those BIG dreams? 


We talked about how to set goals for your dreams. Now let’s dive deeper into the action plans for your achievement goals (not habits).  The steps you need to take to bring yourself closer to living out those dreams.


Often we feel lost and overwhelmed with anxiety with the thought of sitting down to tackle those big dreams. This is because you don’t have a clear path to your dream.  How do you face this unknown? I want to share with you a tested method I picked up from Jessica Abel.


Start with the Questions

First, write down all the questions that occur to you in a short brainstorming session.   

You could use a journal, a digital notebook or any other means of capturing info that works for you. (NOTE: keep this list handy so you can add to it as questions pop up).


Let’s follow along with our dreamer from the setting goals post and say your BIG dream is to grow your email list to 1000 subscribers this year.


Your questions might include:


  • What email service provider should I use?
  • What is email marketing?
  • When should I start my email list?
  • When should I send my first email?
  • How do I gather email addresses from clients?
  • What is an email template?
  • How often should I email?
  • How do I make sure I don’t land in the junk folder?


Next, break the questions down. For example:


  • What email service provider should I use?
    • What are my options to choose from?
    • How do they rank according to cost?
    • How do they rank according to service?


Note, some questions will go BEYOND the project. Write those down too.


  • How will I find the time to work on my email list?
  • Can I create a system for sending out my email newsletter?
  • When do I stop researching email marketing and start working?


A few words of wisdom. Keep the brainstorming session to a time limit if you tend to get lost in your head.  Keep the questions positive and concrete.


Finally, when you have your complete list of questions, it’s time to take a step back and think about how you might categorize your questions.  The categories will vary depending on your goals but let’s keep going with the email list.


  • Research
  • Tech
  • Idea pipeline
  • Schedule
  • Promoting and Marketing
  • Team


Turn those Projects into Actions

Come prepared with your list of questions and categories we created above.  Also a trusted system for keeping track of it all.


Now create headers for the various project stages.  For our email project that would be the RESEARCH, TECH, IDEA PIPELINE etc.  As those questions pop into your head in the middle of the night moving forward you can place them in their proper stage.  


Next, take just the first step of the process  and list out all of the action steps.  Don’t go further than that first step or you will fall again into that research rabbit hole.  Use your list of questions to complete this action step list and make sure to put them into order.  


Your action steps will fall into two categories.

Measurable Tasks: concrete things that need to happen like: Research Email Service Providers


Time Bound Tasks: Open ended activities that need to have scheduled chunks of time.  For example: brainstorm email newsletter ideas for 1 hour.


A few more words of wisdom: make sure your action steps include a verb. Be clear on how you will know this action is complete. Some of your questions won’t have clear actions.  Spend time brainstorming them and turn them into a detailed project.


This can be a scary process for those big dreams on your list but it’s necessary to move forward. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle was built brick by brick and your dreams will be too.

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