A well-designed action plan can make it easier for you to track and realize any goal.
What is an action plan?
In this case, an action plan is a document that lays out the tasks you need to complete in order to accomplish your goal. It also breaks up the process into actionable assignments based on a timeline. A good action plan will outline all the necessary steps to achieve your goal and help you reach your target efficiently by assigning a timeframe—a start and end date—to every step in the process.
An action plan makes it easier for you to stay motivated and monitor progress toward goals, allowing you to stay on schedule. And if collaborating with others, this document allows others to support your efforts as you execute the steps you have outlined.
Write an action plan in 4 simple steps
Writing an action plan might seem challenging but it’s worth the work upfront to keep yourself focused later on and using a simple framework can help give you clarity. While action plans may differ in terms of tasks and timelines, they generally conform to the same structure and include the same types of information. Create an action plan to help you achieve your goal by following these four steps:
- Set SMART goals (see below)
- Specific Your goal should be clearly defined. For instance, instead of saying that you want to “get healthy,” say exactly what that breaks down to, to you personally.
- Measurable Make sure your goal can be measured. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, you need a graph or chart that tracks your progress in short, realistic increments.
- Attainable Although it is good to set high goals to challenge yourself, making sure they’re attainable will help you achieve your desired progress.
- Relevant Your goal should be relevant to your abilities, needs and interests. For instance, if you want to be more consistent with your exercise and cleaner eating, set a weekly % or number that you can be successful managing.
- Time-based You should set a specific deadline for reaching your goal. For a Health & Wellness goal, we suggest 12-month period broken down into 3-month increments.
- Create a List of Actions
Next, create a list of tasks you need to complete in order to reach your goal. This process entails dividing your main goal into smaller objectives. By doing so, you can make the final goal seem less overwhelming and move closer to it in an organized, step-by-step manner. Make sure the actions are attainable and related to your goal. If a given task seems too vague or intimidating, divide it into two or three smaller action items that seem more doable. Main goal is to be successful with every step you take. That’s how you get there; lots of little wins in the process.
For example, if you want to lose weight, you may have to perform a number of tasks to achieve your goal, such as exercising more or improve how you’re eating. These actions will likely need to be broken up into smaller, well-defined steps. Clearly describe each task to create a plan that will lead you to your ultimate goal.
- Set a Timeline
Besides setting a deadline for your main goal, you should also establish a timeframe for completing each task in the process. It is essential to create a timeline you can reasonably follow so you can maintain consistent progress toward your goal. Assess the requirements and consider the amount of time you need to reach each action item on the list. For example, you want to transform your overall health & wellness in one year’s time. Set a timeframe for achieving your desired results for each of the tasks, such as increasing your exercise efforts and losing x number of pounds keywords in three month increments.
- Monitor Progress
Finally, describe how you will ensure each task in your action plan is completed on time, such as using internal reporting or holding regular meetings. By doing so, you will have a clearer idea of the progress you are making toward your goal. Specify the measures you will be using to monitor the plan’s progress, which can be milestones like the number of tasks completed or quantitative measures, such as pounds lost or number of days exercised. For example, you have a goal that each week, each month, and each 3-month time period, you will lose a particular number of body fat pounds. Or for those same time increments, you have set a certain number of exercise sessions, miles run….etc. that you set for your goal. These are examples of how to monitor progress.
–Next Month for Part 2 of this exercise we will provide an Action Plan Template
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