Results come from two things: focus and action. How many goals have you set this year? How many changes have you considered making? Of these, how many have you seen through? A goal without action is just an idea. So, how do we take a goal and turn it into a reality? Here are 5 steps to create a solid action plan.
5 Steps to Creating an Action Plan
1. Start with the end in mind
Every action plan must begin with a clear definition of your desired end result. The clearer you can get on this, the easier it will be to build your action plan.
The clearer you can get on this, the easier it will be to build your action plan.
2. Define the major milestones
Once you have clearly defined what you want to make happen, work backwards to define the major milestones you will need to hit along the way.
A common challenge many of us face with big goals is a distant deadline. This leads us to put off taking real action until it is too late. By creating clear milestones you can hit along the way, you are laying out the stepping stones that will lead you straight to your result.
Consider: what you will need to have done, when you will need to have done it by, and what resources you may need to make it happen.
3. Get clear on the challenges that will come up
Sorry to break it to you, but it’s not all going to be smooth sailing. If it is, you have set your sights too low!
Take your time to get clear on the challenges that will come up along the way. This is one of the most overlooked aspects of creating a strong action plan, and one of the elements that will impact your success the most.
Consider: what challenges you might face, what you can do to prevent or minimise them, and what resources you have available to support you.
Bonus tip for success: make sure you pay attention to the internal challenges you will face – fear, doubt, bad habits that may interfere with your success, dwindling motivation.
These are the challenges that are most likely to hold you back from your goal. The more clearly you plan for them, the more resourced you are for success.
4. Create a prioritised to-do list
As you move from one milestone to the next, create a prioritised to-do list for the short term ahead.
Your action plan does not need to encompass every single step you will take toward your goal. It should give you a clear direction of the larger steps that you will take. Where you should have a clear and detailed plan is in the shorter timeframe in front of you.
The length of time your prioritised to-do list covers will depend on: the timeframe of your overall goal, the size of your overall goal, and how complex it is to achieve.
To give you an example: if I had a 12-month goal to change jobs and move to another city, I would probably have monthly milestones, a weekly breakdown for the coming 2-3 months, and a pretty clear prioritised to-do list for the month ahead.
If I had a goal to establish stronger self-care habits over the course of the month ahead, I might have weekly milestones and a prioritised to-do list for the week ahead.
However you go about creating your to-do list, remember this: it is a tool to keep you on track, ensure you take action that is aligned with your end goal, and to make sure you don’t miss any key steps.
Top tip for success: if your to-do list is becoming overwhelming, you need to come back to prioritisation. Any one list should really only have 7 or 8 tasks on it or the brain begins to get overwhelmed. Bring yourself back to your priorities – the actions that will have the biggest impact on your progress toward your goals.
5. Measure and review your progress
Goals and action are great, but unless you measure your progress you cannot ensure that your actions are leading you toward your goals. Your major milestones are an important aspect of tracking your progress.
Make sure that part of your action plan includes regular tracking and review of your progress. Pay equal attention to where you need to improve, and acknowledging and celebrating the progress that you have made.
Get clear on how you will measure and track your progress right from the start. This will help to keep you on track, identify what you need to change, and provide motivation as you see how far you have come.
Putting your action plan into action
The concept of an action plan is all about making action easier. Your action plan should make your goal feel more tangible. A strong action plan will give you direction, motivation, and focus.
Don’t get too caught up in crafting the perfect action plan. This defeats the purpose. Get clear on the points that feel the most important, then begin. After all, an action plan without action is just a plan.
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart
What helps you turn a goal into action? Share with us in the comments below…