I was on the plane back from my home state of Wyoming yesterday, and I saw this view.

 A good place for goal setting

A good place for goal setting

When I am up this high and looking at a 30,000 foot rainbow, I am more able to see the big picture. I love working on my long-range business plan on the plane, because my brain seems more willing to zoom out and see things "from above." My right brain is evidently more active when high up!

As I was working, I realized I needed to share my process with you, because it is a useful way to set the direction for yourself or to help your team.

You don't have to be on the plane to do it. Going off-site or on retreat can also help get you into a feeling of getting enough distance from your day-to-day tasks to think big picture.

This progression is what I call the "funnel", because it narrows down from overall growth values to daily priorities. 


If you do the columns in order, you'll move from big picture to specific tasks.

The best creativity happens when it pushes through the funnel of restrictions and constraints of our daily lives. In this way they are born into practical form.


How to use the worksheet

The worksheet has three columns.

The first column is for you to dream big and think about what is most valuable for the growth of your business. (If you don't have a business, think about your organization or career goals.) 

The second column asks you to narrow in slightly from the first one. In this column, you're going to list broad action areas that, if given focus, time, and energy, will help you move forward toward the big-picture value you wrote in the first column.

The third column is for immediate, specific next steps. These are things you can start on today, tomorrow, and throughout the next few weeks. 

For example, if you listed "New Product Development" as a big-picture item, you might identify a broad action areas as the kind of products you would like to develop. In the third column, a specific action item could be "set budget line item with board for new product development" or "meet with team to discuss which new product ideas we are going to pursue."

Go as granular as you can in this third stage. Your "fourth column" will become the next items in your To Do List (use whatever productivity tool you like, I recommend ToDoist: https://todoist.com).

If you have several main big-picture priorities, just number them, and group the second and third column entries under the same number. For example, in the first column my fourth value priority was writing: "4. More Writing". In the second column, I wrote "4. E-book, Newsletter, and Website blogs" and in the third column: "4. Increase blog writing 1-2x per week, get up earlier, and learn to use CreateSpace."

In this way you can expand your categories, however I do not recommend putting more than seven in the first column. The brain simply can't keep track of more than that at any one time, and you dilute the effect of doing the exercise if you have too many big-picture items to follow. 

If you run out of room, just make the same columns on the back or use separate sheets.


You'll also see I have included a section for your own Professional Development, Personal Care, and Family Care. That's because often when we are setting business or career goals, we often forget to include these. But the big picture is that you aren't just in business to make money, you want quality of life, health, good relationships, spiritual growth, and so on. Now is the time to dream and evaluate in those areas, so that they integrate into your planning for the year.

Many teams set aside time in January to do this sort of planning. If you are leading this sort of meeting or retreat session yourself, you can use this sheet as a guide to the discussion, or as a preparatory tool for your team to fill out beforehand.

If you have travel plans, take the worksheet with you, it will help you use the time more effectively. This can also be an exercise for a staff retreat, or even a purpose-driven conversation between a couple wanting to help each other move ahead.

Take your goals through the funnel, otherwise they are just wispy dreams

Like the rainbow I saw out the window, your goals won't come down to earth unless you do the work of making them actionable.


Having trouble bringing the rainbow down to earth? Get help to make your most valuable goals actionable. Find out more about personal coaching here and team training here.

If you found the Funnel Goals Worksheet helpful, pass it forward by commenting, liking, and sharing this page.