Goal Setting and Goal Planning: What's the Difference?



The Next Level Daily planner can be used in any way that makes sense to you. Some of our customers use it as a combination daily planner, habit tracker, and goal planner. The goal planning aspect is especially important when you come to realize that goal setting and planning are two different things.


Self-help experts and life coaches have been telling us for years that setting goals is important. Not only that, but we are also supposed to set achievable goals so that we don't defeat ourselves. But setting a goal is only the start. Achieving it follows. That is where goal planning comes in.


Getting From Point A to Point B


Achieving a set goal is like taking a journey that starts where you are right now and ends where you hope to be once the goal is reached. Your job is to get from point A to point B. How are you going to do that?


Figuring out the journey is what goal planning is all about. Goal planning references now as the starting point. It references reaching the goal as the conclusion. Then it sets out a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be when all is said and done. Simple enough, right?


Some people find it is easier to achieve their desired goals by keeping track of things in a goal planner. They use the goal planner to lay out exactly how they are going to get from point A to point B. Along the way, they track their progress.


3 Elements of Goal Planning


As a general rule, there are three elements to goal planning. We use the 'term general rule' because we realize not everyone goal-plans the same way. That said, here are the three elements most people utilize:


1. Start and End Points


You could say that this first element, start and end points, is almost non-negotiable. How can you establish and reach goals without them? The thing about start and end points is that they need to be clearly defined. Clearly defining where you are and where you want to go is similar to starting a road trip plan. You need to know where you are and what your destination is before you can plan anything else.


2. Stages of Completion


Goal planning's second element is a series of steps or stages that will be reached on the way to total completion. Using the road trip example again, you might divide a 5-day trip into daily stages. You don't get to where you're going instantly. Rather, you get there day-by-day. Each completed stage gets you closer.


Goal planning works the same way. By establishing stages and tracking your progress, you make the larger goal easier to wrap your brain around because it is made up of a series of smaller stages.


3. A Means of Measuring Success


Finally, the third element of goal planning is developing a means for measuring success. You need to have a definitive way to know you have completed stages. And by the way, there also needs to be a way to measure failure. You are not always going to succeed according to the plan. You need a way to identify failure so that you can work to overcome it.


Goal planning is a key part of the process of setting and achieving goals. Even if you don't do it formally with a paper goal planner and habit tracker, you probably do it in your head. At any rate, planning how you intend to achieve your goals increases the chances you'll succeed.