How to reach your goals: Try the ICE framework

How to reach your goals: Try the ICE framework

Publish Date
Feb 4, 2022
Suppose you have a goal you want to achieve, such as growing your email list.
There are a bazillion tactics and strategies you could try to get there.
Everywhere you look, you’re bombarded with advice on what to do. And this is overwhelming as hell.
Worst case, you don’t do anything at all because there are just too many paths you could pursue.
But there’s a way around this dilemma!
I want to get you to the point where you can decisively move forward with a small selection of strategies that are feasible to implement and will make an impact...while blissfully ignoring everything else (for now).
The framework to make that happen is called ICE, and it’s been around for years, helping people choose between multiple potentially effective options.
ICE stands for impact, confidence, and ease. And here’s how to use it:

Step #1: Write down all possible tactics and strategies you could pursue to reach your goal

It helps if you’ve already collected tweet threads and blog posts in your notetaking app around the topic.
Don’t limit yourself here. Even if you know you don’t have the resources to implement something right now, write it down anyway.
You want a comprehensive list.

Step #2: Evaluate each option on three criteria

Now, list every option in a table and rate it on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).
Let’s play along with our example of growing your email list. One of the initiatives you identified is implementing a referral system that rewards your current subscribers for referring new people to your list.
Here’s how I would evaluate this option:
  • Impact: How big of an impact will this initiative have on reaching your goal? If every subscriber referred just one other person, that would be huge. I’ll give this a 9 for impact.
  • Confidence: How confident are you that this initiative will have the impact you hope for? I’ve seen many big names implement referral systems successfully and heard that they really work. So, I’m fairly confident that it would have a sizeable effect. I’ll give it an 8.
  • Ease: How easy is it for you to implement this initiative? This needs work. I’d have to sign up and pay for a tool like SparkLoop and create referral incentives. I’ll give this a 4 for ease.
Don’t overthink the evaluation and trust your gut reaction as you go through your options. This isn’t highly scientific.

Step #3: Add up the scores and rank your options

Our example above received a total of 21 points out of 30. That’s a great score, but maybe something else fairs even higher.
The initiatives with the highest impact, with the highest confidence, and that are the easiest to implement should now rise to the top.
Here’s how a table could look like:

Step #4: Implement your top strategies

It’s time to switch from planning to doing.
Instead of randomly chasing after any new tactic, you’ve deliberately selected a few that will move the needle for you.
But you’ll only know if they work once you try them. There’s never a guarantee.
Make sure to track the results so you can reevaluate your strategy in a few weeks.
That’s also a reason why you should keep your initial list of initiatives handy. Then, you can always go back to it and choose the next best option in case the ones you first selected don’t work out.
Now, is this the perfect, completely fool-proof way of creating an action plan to reach your goals? Probably not.
Is it better than staying stuck in analysis-paralysis, playing out every possible scenario in your head? Absolutely!
Go give it a try and tell me what this exercise did for you. It surely helped me!