How do we move from Aspiration to Action? In the wise words of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” We honor the work, legacy and leadership of Dr. King today. And I appreciate this statement in light of the tremendous pressure we put on ourselves and others when our goals are ambitious and the stakes are high.
Not all of us have goals as grand as sweeping cultural and systemic change as Dr. King did, but regardless of the depth or breadth of your goal, it can be challenging to move from Aspiration to Action.
Put very simply, moving from Aspiration to Action requires four things:
1) Brainstorm All Necessary Tasks. List all of the big and little actions, tasks, steps that need to happen in order to reach the goal. Break the bigger actions into smaller steps. The smaller the step, often the easier it is to complete. Completing something feels good! Think of it as a little hit of dopamine that will encourage you to complete the next small step and keep moving forward.
2) Put the Smaller Steps in Order. Which have hard deadlines and which have to be completed before other steps can begin? Perhaps some steps can be in-progress at the same time. Put start and end dates for each smaller step onto a calendar or Gantt chart. Some of you Project Management Gurus out there likely use even slicker apps with more bells and whistles!
3) Assign Task Owners. Determine which of the small steps are your responsibility and which to delegate. Hint: As a leader, only keep the tasks that you must do because of your skills or authority. Delegate the rest to involve others, give them a chance to have ownership, and potentially help them to develop new skills. If you are the sole action-owner, I recommend finding an accountability partner who can help hold your feet to the fire and keep you on track. This person can also celebrate with you as you make progress!
4) Follow-Up and Celebrate. Depending on how many tasks are in the action plan and who is involved in completing those tasks, decide how frequently to have status updates. Celebrate all progress made to encourage yourself and your team to “Keep moving forward!”