Finally, it is time for action. You have direction from your SMART goals; now it’s time to figure out how you are going to implement them. Now is the time for specifics. What needs to be done? Use action verbs – create, attend, write, etc. Identify exactly what – write two blog posts each week, join a specific committee and attend 80% of the meetings, hire a marketing director. SMART principles apply here, too. Make sure the action steps are relevant to the goal.
Provide actual dates as deadlines. Join that committee by March 1. Hire the marketing director by June 15. Make sure actions in a series have timelines that make sense. For example, joining that committee might actually be just a tiny part of implementing a goal of gaining at least 10% more referrals from other graphic designers. You determine that a good way to do that is to join an association of other graphic designers to build your recognition within that community and showcase your skills.
The action steps implementing that goal might be: 1) Identify graphic design associations and any local chapters thereof by Feb. 1; 2) Investigate potential committees by talking with at least 3 current members of at least two selected associations by March 1; 3) Join selected association and committee by March 15; 4) Attend at least 80% of committee meetings and at least one other event each month.
There might be more action steps for that goal both concurrent and before or after the one you just laid out. Continue to make sure they make sense for the goal and the time that you can actually devote. Create a format that helps you visualize what needs to happen in which order and by what dates. Some prefer timelines, others lists, others are spreadsheet junkies.
If you don’t know what you like, try getting twelve pieces of paper. Write the names of the months on the top of the sheets – each sheet gets one month. Now, on that sheet, write down what needs to occur during that month to make progress on your goals. Need some flair? Color coordinate that baby so each goal gets a color so the action step for that goal has that color associated with it on the sheet.
Depending on the size of your business and your resources, delegation may be possible. Perhaps Step 1 above is assigned to an assistant. Note that down and be sure the person responsible knows what is expected by when. Delegation often means the action step needs to be even more specific: Identify graphic design associations that are exclusive to graphic designers as members, have a local presence in Madison, and includes active committees that meet on a regular basis. Otherwise, they won’t know the parameters for their search, and you will have wasted both your time and their time and efforts with little gain.
Create accountability and consequences. Lay out ahead of time what will happen if those deadlines are not met. If the answer is “nothing,” don’t be surprised if nothing gets done.
Now, ready, set, go!