GOALS Part 3: Sub-Goals and Action Plans

Click these links for Part 1 or Part 2

Quick summary of Parts 1 and 2:

Goals have to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound

The Main Goal set in Part 1 is: Read 150 books in a calendar year by Dec 31, 2026.

In Part 2 we determined that you have to get your reading from about 3 hours/week, to about 35, with some binge-reading days here and there, in order to get to that point.  Ultimately, you’re going to read longer before bed, some time set aside each evening, and on weekends, on the bus/train to and from work, and during your lunches.

So, in the last part, I talked a bit about sub-goals, and now we’re going to work out just what they would be/how you would set them.  Sub-goals are the milestones you hit along the way to your Main Goal.  Action Plans are the steps you take to get to each Sub-Goal.

The easiest Sub-Goals to set are Incremental Goals, where you just break up your Main Goal into shorter time blocks.  Here’s how you could do it for your reading goal of 150 books in 2026:

Incremental Goals:

  • 2015 (Actual): 3 books
  • 2016: 6 books
    • February 29: Finish 1st Book
    • April 30: Finish 2nd Book
    • June 30: Finish 3rd Book
    • August 31: Finish 4th Book
    • October 31: Finish 5th Book
    • December 31: Finish 6th Book
  • 2017: 12 books
    • January 31: Finish 1st Book
    • February 28: Finish 2nd Book
    • (You get the idea)
  • 2018: 24 books
  • 2019: 40 books
  • 2020: 55 books
  • 2021: 70 books
  • 2022: 85 books
  • 2023: 105 books
  • 2024: 120 books
  • 2025: 135 books
  • 2026: 150 books

Pretty simple, right?  Right.  But we can do we even better than that.  There are things you have to be capable of doing, before you can hit each one.  To read the 150 books, based on the logic laid out in Part 2, you’ve got to be able to finish a book in 13 hours of reading.  So, you’re going to have to be able to do that before 2026 starts.  So that’s another type of Sub-Goal: Competency Goals.  These are the capabilities you need to build so you can achieve the Main Goal.

Competency Goals:

  • 2016:
    • August 31: Have read at least one book in 30 days or fewer
  • 2017:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 14 or fewer days at least once
    • August 31: Have read 2 books in a month at least once
  • 2018:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 10 days or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read 3 books in a month at least once
  • 2019:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 7 days or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read 4 books in a month at least once
    • September 30: Have read a book in 6 days or fewer at least once
    • October 31: Have read 5 books in a month at least once
  • 2020:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 5 days or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read 6 books in a month at least once
  • 2021:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 4 days or fewer at least once
    • August 31: have read 7 books in a month at least once
  • 2022:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 3 days or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read 8 books in a month at least once
    • October 31: Have read 9 books in a month at least once
  • 2023:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 15 hours or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read 10 books in a month at least once
  • 2024:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 14 hours or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read at least 11 books in a month at least once
    • October 31: Have read at least 12 books in a month at least once
  • 2025:
    • June 30: Have read a book in 13 hours or fewer at least once
    • August 31: Have read at least 13 books in a month at least once

So you can see how you gradually get to reading more, and faster.  Plus, if you’re going along and realize your progress is either way ahead, or lagging behind, your Incremental and Competency Goals, you can adjust those, and your Main Goal, accordingly.  By 2018, you might decide that 100 books is the most you can realistically read in a year, and make that your new 10-year Main Goal, and adjust everything else accordingly.

Now comes Action Plans.  How are you going to get to each goal?  If you do these for Incremental Goals, most of the time they’re the same steps for your Competency Goals.  If you figure that your reading speed will improve as you read more and become more practiced, then your action plan is pretty much entirely about increasing the amount of time you spend reading.  If you don’t think your reading speed will improve enough on its own, you would include some specific strategies (like taking a speed-reading class, or practicing skimming for content) in your Action Plans.  You’d be specific with those steps, eg. “Take Speed-Reading 1 at Community Centre” or “Read two full chapters of current book by skimming only.”  That sort of thing.  I think that’s pretty simple to grasp, so I’m just going to lay out some sample Action Plans under the assumption your reading speed would just get faster with all the extra practice.

SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 1
GOAL: Finish 1st Book of 2016
TARGET DATE: February 29, 2016
Steps:
1. Read on at least 50 different days.
2. Read for at least an hour on 25 different days.

SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 2
GOAL: Finish 4th Book of 2016
TARGET DATE: August 31, 2016
Steps:
1. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read on at least 55 different days.
2. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read for at least an hour on 35 different days.
3. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read during lunch on at least 10 different days.
4. From Jul 1-Aug 31, read for at least 30 minutes, twice in the same day, on at least 20 different days.

SAMPLE ACTION PLAN 3
GOAL: Read 3 Books During January 2019
TARGET DATE: January 31, 2019
Steps:
1. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read at least 1 hour at night every day
2. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read during lunch on at least 10 different days
3. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read for an at least an hour, twice in the same day, on at least 20 different days.
4. From Jan 1-Jan 31, read on the bus/train to and from work on at least 12 different days.

These may not be exactly what you’d work out if you did all the planning, and figuring, but you can see the idea.  Everything in an Action Plan is something you can decide to do.  The only thing needed for it to happen, is your choice to act.  They depend only on things completely within your control.  Goals and Sub-Goals, on the other hand, are affected by things you can control, as well as things you can’t control.  The purpose of the Action Plan is to find the elements you can control, and use them to give yourself the best possible chance to succeed.

So that’s my much-longer-than-planned series on Goal Setting.  Did not plan to spend all this time on it, but I’m glad I did.  I hope a few people actually read it.

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