Defining your goal is the first step to reaching it and it’s crucial to define it correctly. But you’ll never reach your goal unless you create an action plan to get there.

An action plan works like a roadmap. To get from here to there when you’re driving, you have to know where to go. You rely on a roadmap, or on GPS, to direct you there.

Similarly, an action plan will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be when you are seeking your goal. It’s important for you to spend some time thinking it through. Just preparing the plan puts you on the path to reaching your goal because it helps you to anticipate results, consequences, and potential pitfalls.

Like your goal, your plan should be optimistic but realistic. Be sure to assign deadlines for each step. Set intermediate goals so that you can monitor your progress. Break the intermediate goals down to monthly, weekly and even daily guidelines.

Sometimes getting the process right is really the only thing you need to do to reach your goal. If you are training for a marathon, getting the process right is crucial. Your diet and your training runs will provide the means for you to run a full marathon. Once you have the process in place, you will be successful if you execute it.

When you have made your plan, share it with your support group of other goal-setters. They may have ideas that will help you or questions that will make you realize that you need to make changes. Don’t be sensitive when you hear these comments. You may or may not adopt them, but give them due consideration.

Once you have written your plan and had it vetted by your support group, start to work it. Your plan will be very helpful to you when you have so much to do that you can’t figure out what to do next. It that happens, just look at your plan. Then do the next step.

As you work through it, you may find that it needs to be revised. Tasks may take more or less time than you originally planned. You may find there are intermediate steps to be taken that you hadn’t foreseen.

And you may find that you fail at one or more of the intermediate goals. Don’t let that make you quit. Take a look at the failure. See what went wrong. See what went right. Regroup, revise and hunker down again.

Setting a goal without making a plan to get there is not a serious endeavor. Don’t just dream about reaching your goal; plan it.