THE BLOG
04/12/2013 11:48 am ET | Updated Jun 12, 2013

Draft Your Blueprint to Success! 8 Strategies for Setting Attainable Goals

We've all heard of the importance of setting goals to accomplish your dreams. Like most people, you have spent plenty of time thinking about and assessing your own ideas. Now it is time to take what you know about yourself and your aspirations and use that information to help formulate your Blueprint to success.

You must build your Blueprint toward reasonable goals, and you must make each step measured and equally reasonable. Don't set yourself up with the desire to achieve the goal all at once. Set yourself up with the desire to add one notch to your belt today, this week, this month, this year. Work on the notches. Celebrate your progress. It should be quite apparent by now that everything worth doing in life requires hard work and must be achieved in increments. The point here is that Rome wasn't built in a day. With that in mind, it is unreasonable to expect to achieve any major goal in life in one day.

While every Blueprint is as different as every person, the formula for making them work is always the same. When creating your own Blueprint, consider the following steps:

1. Identify what you really want to accomplish.

One of the primary and most common concerns on the path to achievement can be a matter of wanting too much or wanting too many different things. But for your Blueprint to be successful, you must choose a singular path. Nothing stops progress quite like spreading yourself too thin. So before you begin, pick a passion and commit to sticking to it.

2. Study the background and qualifications of your goal.

If the information isn't readily available, don't be afraid to simply call up and ask the person who occupies your dream career. Even if that dream career is within your own company. Ask that person what they had to do to get to their current position. Write down everything you learn. Then begin to lay the groundwork for how you will emulate that path.

3. Ask if you fit the criteria.

It could be that achieving your goal will require education that you don't currently have. It could be that you don't yet know the people who can help you along the path. It could be that you haven't yet presented yourself to your peers and potential hirers as someone who does in fact meet these criteria. The bottom line here is that the people who will help you along the path to your dreams will want to know the value you will bring to them, their organizations, and the job you will ultimately hold. For this reason, you must first assess that value in yourself, then make that value apparent on your résumé.

4. Build and maintain relationships with the people who can help you.

Like anything valuable in life, business relationships take time. There is nothing less threatening and more flattering than being asked for wisdom. If you reach out to your key decision makers with questions about how you might achieve your dream, they will be much more likely to help you.

5. Set the bar where it needs to be.

For all those long-term goals, don't be afraid to set the bar at the top. But if you do, be sure to provide yourself with enough smaller steps that you can see progress and actually accomplish things on a daily basis. Business (and life in general) is a constant evolution. Yes, visualize your ultimate success; but at the same time, recognize that success is a journey, not a destination.

6. Make (and take!) the steps.

Every Blueprint must have clear and identifiable schematics. Once you have identified and begun to research your goal, you may begin creating a detailed, step by step plan to follow over the days, weeks, and years to come. Don't set yourself up for failure by expecting to make too much progress at once. Remember, one notch at a time.

7. Craft a contingency plan.

You have to expect the unexpected in business and in life. So once you have your initial Blueprint in place, plot out at least one more that takes into account every foreseeable disaster. Always create a Plan A, Plan B, and even a Plan C. If you can see obstacles coming, you'll be that much more prepared to overcome them when they're here.

8. Benchmark.

When you're taking on a large life goal that is bound to encompass years of your life, the best way to ensure that you remain on the path is to identify and keep Benchmarks for everything you do. Don't just create steps, in other words: create steps with measurable timeframes attached to them.

To recap, be honest in your assessment of yourself, research what it will take to position yourself to achieve your goals, and above all, always keep a positive attitude. Nothing comes easy in life--and far too many people have a tendency to give up just before the miracle is achieved. Even with the most detailed and well-considered Blueprint at hand, you are bound to face some Breakdowns.

In closing, Plan thoroughly. Market yourself effectively. Even with your contingency plans at hand, you're bound to encounter the occasional Breakdown. Setbacks happen--especially when you're pursuing a major life goal. That's just a fact. Often, when the inevitable Breakdowns occur, it is the way you react and recuperate that makes the difference between whether the incident will lead to success or failure.