Actions must successfully lead to the goal. Since it is always unknown whether our actions will move us closer our end, we need to continually reassess both the goal and actions. But when should we reassess our aims? It seems utterly foolish to never reassess since our actions could have consistently failed to draw us any closer to our goal. Yet it seems unproductive, if not impossible, to continuously reassess our position after every action.
I think an optimal strategy for reassessment would be at milestones: points in our action plan that we judge (whether rightly or wrongly) to be strategically important for accomplishing our goal. We can call these milestones sub-goals, because they serve as short-term goals and are not ends in themselves. Sub goals contrast with our final end, that which we can call an ultimate goal, as (a) it should be an end in itself, and (b) no goal should succeed it.
Sub-goals are an important part of an action plan. A good sub-goal will have three attributes. First, a sub-goal will give the appearance of being an end in itself. That is, a sub-goal appears meaningful and does not just seem like an unnecessary grind or box to tick. Second, a sub-goal will be a strong motivation for an agent. This second attribute is generally a consequence of the first point. Third, a sub-goal should provide a clear and obvious path to the next goal (whether that goal is the next sub-goal or the ultimate goal itself).
Sub-goals should serve as necessary success points for an action plan. If you succeed on all sub-goals, one will (most likely) reach the ultimate goal. However, upon failing a sub-goal, according to the current action plan, there is no chance of arriving at the ultimate goal whatsoever. Since a sub-goal serves as a pivot point of an action plan, whether one succeeds or fails can change the course of the entire plan, or the abandoning of the ultimate goal itself.
So, the time in which we should assess our position is at the point of a sub-goal, whether we have succeeded or failing in achieving that goal.
As aforementioned, I described a sub-goal as having the appearance of being an end in itself, as opposed to an ultimate goal that actually is an end in itself. In the next post, I’m going to tease apart this difference, and explain how I conceptualize such a distinction and how distinguishing the difference between the two can help the construction of action plans themselves.