Following the Path of Progress

The Five Stages of Progress:

  1. Ideas
  2. Goals
  3. Plans
  4. Actions
  5. Results

Whatever we strive to accomplish, all progress comes in five stages. Knowing these stages and how we move through them can make any effort a simpler, well-understood process. These stages are the natural flow of progress, with each one preparing us for the next.

Ideas: First comes the idea: a product, a new skill to acquire, a business concept. These are the things we need or wish for or simply dream about. Some ideas are passing interests while others live on in our hopes. Yet these are still ideas, and not yet goals. There may be many ideas, and we may select only a few.

Goals: Selecting an idea is only the beginning. Now we must set expectations and consciously decide to commit the time and resources needed to achieve them. This commitment is the difference between a simple idea and an actual goal. Beginning a project without making this commitment is often a formula for failure.

Plans: Once we have committed to a goal, we define a plan to achieve it. Sometimes that plan is detailed, sometimes it just defines a general approach. Either way, an effective plan addresses the actions, resources and timeline needed to get the job done. Plans change, of course, being recast to address new situations as they arise.

Actions: Actions are all the things we do to achieve a goal and satisfy that want or need. When we begin working our plan, we enter the action stage. Projects have unexpected twists, and plans often change, but in successful projects, actions and plans are kept in sync.

Results: Our actions produce results. Sometimes that is the end; more often results need maintenance: monitoring, continuing education, refinement, iteration or more. The results stage marks accomplishment, but not always conclusion.

Recognizing these five stages helps us see where we are, how far we have to go and what needs to be done to reach the next stage. At D. T. H. and Associates, we routinely assess individuals, entrepreneurs and businesses in terms of the Path of Progress, and guide them along that path for the greatest chance of success in the shortest amount of time.