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The D.A.R.T. Method® of deliberate planning: your best planning tool

The D.A.R.T. Method is a comprehensive deliberate planning system that Aurelian Coaching's clients have a chance to master. It is the best planning tool that leaders have at their disposal because it's so comprehensive:

  1. It forces you to articulate rationale for why decisions being made help get you closer to your goals, and

  2. It forces you to surface and address challenges and obstacles in advance, before they screw everything up that you've worked so hard for!

While D.A.R.T. is at the heart of the deliberate planning tool as a whole, there are elements before and after D.A.R.T. that are just as critical, so let's go over the entire process.


This is not a goal. Goals serve the larger purpose. This first step helps you define what you are ultimately shooting for. Think about the condition of your situation, describe it. How do you feel? What are you doing or not doing? What is happening around you? All the work you put in, what is it ultimately for?


The number of goals could be one, two, or ten. Break them down into smaller chunks if you like. Actively working on these goals means that you are always in the act of serving the larger purpose. Goals should be specific; you should be able to know whether or not you've met them. If you are familiar with the SMART goal framework, that's a good one to use.


Pick one of the goals to run through the DART Method model. What decisions can you make that will actually get your closer to achieving that goal? Who is the accountable party to will execute and report on progress? Why, exactly, is this decision a good one? And when would you start and stop on following through?


Purpose is to achieve the level of freedom I want by running my own business.

One goal would be to launch my own website with my services clearly listed.

DART could look like:





Limit services to 3 for now, test them out.


Limiting service listings to 3 allows me to get something viable up quickly. The short list of services will teach me about what ranges people are willing to pay, what they are receptive to, and how I might adjust later.

3 services determined within 7 days.

Build out a landing page, About Me page, and Service page on a simple website platform.

Web developer that I'll hire on Fivrr.

I have money to outsource this, and it would mean I don't have to stumble my way through it, and it would have the benefit of a professional look and feel.

2 months from now

Offer 5-10 free engagements to people in my network in exchange for honest testimonials.


Before-and-after transformations in testimonials listed on the new website will provide social proof and get me closer to landing a paying client. The negative feedback will help me adjust the offerings.

within 3 months


It's important to take a step back and evaluate the decisions in D.A.R.T. for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Many make a decision and simply... go. But good leaders are ready to see around corners.

An important question to ask yourself is: How could it all go wrong?


I struggle with limiting myself to 3 initial offerings and keep changing them, or keep adding to them.

The website is more complicated than I think it is.

The website takes much longer than 2 months to launch.

I sit down to offer services to people in my network, and I freeze up and can't do it.

The feedback on free services is not helpful at all.

Once you have a list of potential obstacles that would prevent you from executing on your decisions that way you want to, you'll need to figure out how to address these obstacles proactively - in an effort to try to prevent them from being a problem in the first place.

Check out this more detailed article on dealing with obstacles more proactively. In short, you'll characterize your obstacles by whether they are internal or external, as well as how intolerable the obstacles are.

External obstacles outside your control that you can tolerate: find workarounds or compromises.

External obstacles that are intolerable to you: set boundaries in a healthy way.

Internal obstacles that you can tolerate or that you choose to deal with later: yield and accept.

Internal obstacles that you consider intolerable: find a way to get coached.


Step 5 is usually where people jump when they have a goal. LET'S DO IT!! But a deliberate plan includes a defined purpose, goals set to achieving that purpose, thoughtful decisions with clear rationale, surfacing and addressing potential obstacles proactively...

OK, now LET'S DO IT!!

But let's do it right. Our tactics should be tangible, so that we know we are making progress. Defining metrics and proper milestones would be the best way to track your progress. Make sure you set some lead metrics as well as lag metrics, if possible. That way, you'll be able to get early indicators to course-correct if needed.


The final step is to take all this beautiful work and block time in your calendar to get it done. To optimize, don't schedule activity and busy work. Instead, set yourself up for great results: make note of what you will have to show for the time - something drafted, created, produced, decided, communicated, etc.


Learning how to do a thing is not the same as actually following through consistently. Sometimes, that regular check-in helps. Grab an accountability buddy, reserve time weekly to review and reinforce, or join a quality, effective accountability program to keep up the great work and layer in repeat successes over time.

Implement the effective D.A.R.T. Method of deliberate planning with a coach. Schedule a consult today.


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