Have a big goal you want to accomplish? It's time to work out your step by step plan to make it happen.

In an earlier post, I wrote about How to Stick to Your Plan.

In this post, I would like to focus on the importance of having a plan in the first place.

Let me give you an example.

Say, for instance, you are planning on leaving your job to either start your own business or go work for another company. Obviously, both require different actions but for this post, let’s focus on the leaving work part.

When I left my employer of 7 years to start my own business, I had a detailed plan about how I was going to go about it.

As it turns out, my plan did have one significant flaw but I will talk about that further along.

Firstly let’s be clear on something. A desire to leave work is not enough. You need to have a plan in place.

Desire is not a plan.

Here are some actions that will help you work out your step by step plan to achieve your goals.

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Have a due date

If you plan on leaving your current employer, one of the things you definitely need is an end date. Even if it is a year away, it doesn’t matter, you know what date you are aiming for.

Know the exact date you plan on being your last with your employer. Also, know the date you plan to resign.

There may be a long gap between these two dates depending on your company and industry, so make sure you are prepared. Make sure you give your company and yourself, the appropriate amount of time required when you resign.

Too many people have a maybe date floating around in their heads. I might leave after we finish this project, I might leave when I come back from holiday. I might think about leaving next year.

Most of the time, I might, translates to it will never happen.

Put it this way, if you are planning to take an overseas holiday, you want to be damn sure you know what date to turn up at the airport to catch your plane.

The same strategy should be applied if you are resigning from work.

As regular readers may know I had a precise date planned to resign. Then the Queensland floods hit. Even though I was lucky enough not to have any property damage, it derailed my plans.

For starters, it was physically impossible for me to resign on my planned date as our office was closed and staff sent home for several days. There was also a lot of concerning talk about the economy and the tough times ahead. Suddenly I started to question whether I should put my plan on hold.

Thankfully, my sense of feeling overwhelmed subsided (as did the flood water) and I resigned the following week.

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Sort out your finances

Regardless of whether you are leaving work to travel overseas for an extended period of time, starting a whole new career, starting your own business, going back to study, or simply going from one job to another, you need to have money set aside.

Naturally, if you are going down the starting your own bricks-and-mortar business road, you may need a LOT of money.

How much you need will depend on your situation.

However you look at it,  it’s a good idea to have some surplus funds in case one of the clients you have lined up falls through or you have to wait longer than expected for your next pay. Whatever your reason, make sure you have enough money to cover your living expenses and bills if your plans go pear-shaped.

If you need to save money, make sure you give yourself enough time to save the amount you need. When I went back to work after having six months’ leave without pay, I started saving straight away. I wasn’t sure what my plan of attack was at that stage, but I knew that I would need money.

Do your homework

I learned this step the hard way.

When I left work I had two writing clients lined up. Though they were relatively low-paying, the money earned would have been enough to pay my basic business expenses. Out of the blue, one website was sold and decided to stop paying writers and the other simply decided to stop paying (as seems to be happening more often in the world of publishing).

Without a doubt, I realize now, that I should have established a reliable, consistent paying client base before taking the leap into freelancing.

This was the major flaw in my plan as mentioned earlier, in case you were wondering.

If you are leaving your job to work from home, make sure you have enough clients in place. If you are going overseas, make sure you have all of your travel documents in order.

In a nutshell, make sure you do as much preparation as possible to ensure a smooth transition.

Related postHow to Deal with Periods of Transition

Make it happen

If your whole plan consists of saying, ‘I’m going to leave my job and start working for myself,’ over a glass of wine at the pub, I doubt very much if it is going to happen.

Don’t keep your plan in your head. Put your action plan in writing, complete with a valid due date assigned to each task.

Make sure your plan, actions, and due dates are realistic.

Methodically work through what is required to make your plan happen.

If you are having problems getting started, you may want to take a moment to question your motives.

Do you really want to leave your job or are you bored? Could you find more challenging work in your current role to fulfill your needs?

You need to make sure your goal is something you want and are prepared to work on or finding the motivation to make it happen could be difficult.

As with everything you want in life, you need to take action. You need a detailed step-by-step action plan, drive, and motivation. Wishing just won’t cut it.

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