May 4, 2023 6 Min Read
The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Action Plan that Actually Works
Do you ever feel like you’re constantly spinning your wheels, working hard but never really making progress toward your goals?
Yeah, we know how life can be.
So often, you have all the big plans in your life, from developing better, more sustainable habits that balance your sleep and work to acquiring your dream career and personal relationships.
But life gets in the way, and things rarely turn out exactly how you would like. Sometimes, it can feel like you’ve made no progress at all.
Today, we’ll change this forever.
Today, you’ll start creating a followable action plan to help you solidly realize your dreams and make your goals far more achievable.
In this guide, we’ll explain what an action plan is, why you need one, and give you a step-by-step guide on creating an effective strategy that will keep you on track toward success.
Let’s get into it.
What’s An Action Plan And Why Do You Need One
An action plan is a written document outlining the steps you need to take to achieve your goals.
Think of it as a roadmap.
A roadmap that helps you stay organized, focused and motivated while also holding you accountable to your objectives.
With an action plan, you can break down your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed and stay motivated.
Imagine your life is a boat out at sea.
You’re in the ocean and trying to find your way.
You’ve got a list of tasks like managing your boat, keeping the crew happy, and patching holes to do, and you’re trying to set your course. You must find your way out of the fog, plot your next course, avoid pirates and poor weather conditions, and even find treasure and discover new lands.
There’s a lot on your plate, but without a plan by your side, you’ll never be able to prioritize what you need to do and when. Problems can compound and feel overwhelming to manage, and you can spread yourself too thin to the point where you never like you’ve moved at all.
You’re at the whim of nature, rather than being in control and purposeful.
Hence, you get yourself an action plan, listing your priorities and what you want to achieve, and then start to make it happen.
How to Create an Action Plan That Keeps You on Track to meet Your Goals
Creating an effective action plan involves several steps.
Now, to make things a little more complicated, we need to start by saying there’s no hard-and-fast way to create a plan. Your needs differ from everyone else’s, so your plan must be set up in a way that works for you.
Your plan needs to work for you.
With that in mind, we can share the basics of creating an action plan that you can use to build the foundation of your own strategy to tackle life.
Let’s start with SMART goals.
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Every goal you want to achieve should be oriented around the concept of being SMART, so it’s detailed enough to follow and has metrics that allow you to see whether you’re succeeding.
Imagine this is your goal;
“I want a better sleeping pattern.”
It’s a great goal, but it’s far too broad and open-ended to actually help you achieve anything.
Let’s make this SMART;
- S: I want to develop a healthy sleeping pattern where I get enough hours of sleep
- M: I will track the number of hours I sleep every night to ensure I’m getting enough
- A: I will get at least seven hours of sleep per night
- R: I will be in bed at the same time every night
- T: I will go to bed at 10 pm and wake up at 7 am
Bringing all these points together, your goal could be;
I will go to bed at 10 pm every night for two weeks with an alarm set for 7 am. I will use a sleep-tracking app to count how many hours I am asleep.
This goal is far better than the original because it’s much more actionable and gives you a clear idea of what you want to do and how you’ll achieve it.
Statements like this not only put a clear goal in your mind but also help you identify the steps you need to take to achieve them.
Do this with all your goals, although tackling one or two goals at a time is best because you won’t overwhelm yourself with too many life changes.
The Art Of Prioritizing Your Goals
Prioritizing your tasks and goals is essential.
You may want to start working a solid 10 hours per day or develop a successful exercise routine, but if you’re spending too much time on social media and not getting enough sleep, then these goals are going to be much harder, if not impossible, to achieve.
It’s all about tackling things in the right order.
To do this, it’s recommended that you break down all your large goals into smaller, more manageable pieces.
For example, if your goal is to write a book, you can prioritize the different chapters or sections so you’re not trying to tackle everything at once. This can help you stay focused and avoid getting overwhelmed.
A list of other more common goals may include;
- Reducing time spent on your phone or on social media
- More time exercising
- Better sleeping habits
- Eating better
- More breaks and downtime
- Joining a club
- Being more sociable
- Reading more books
- Spending more time with family
Many of these goals tie into each other. For example, you might not get enough sleep because you spend too much time on your phone. Therefore, a prioritized goal would be to cut down on screen time.
Remember, make this into a SMART goal, such as;
I will only use my smartphone for one hour a day using a parental control app, after which I will put my phone in a drawer until the next day.
Creating a timeline for achieving your goals is also essential.
Identify the deadlines for each task and set milestones along the way. This will help you track your progress and stay motivated to achieve your goals.
When starting out, it’s easy to think, “Hey, I’m going to stick to this goal for the rest of my life,” but that’s such a vague and open-ended target.
If you’re reducing screen time, try and stick to your limit for a day or a week. Then, raise it to two weeks, and then a month, and so on.
Build things up slowly. If you can’t do a day, then you won’t be able to do a month.
Accountability: The Key To Your Success
Ah, yes, accountability.
While it’s all well and good to set goals for yourself and focus on all the things you want to achieve, few goals will ever be completed without having some kind of accountability.
Accountability refers to how you’ll add pressure to your approach to tackling your goals.
A basic way of doing this may be to use a habit-tracking app or to get a friend or partner to take on the habits with you. You could also enlist the help of a mentor or coach or join a support group.
The trick here is to find an accountability buddy or system that works for you.
For fitness goals, it’s probably best to team up with a like-minded individual who understands the struggles you’re going through and can lend a hand and relevant support.
This could be through a personal trainer, gym class, or cycling group you sign up for.
If you’re trying to eat well at home, getting your partner on board for buying healthier foods and cooking better meals is ideal because you’re both in the same position.
However, do be aware that picking the wrong accountability buddy can hold you back.
If your partner isn’t really interested in eating healthily or doesn’t want to make a change, they can very easily persuade you to order that takeaway or miss that gym session because they don’t have the same drive or motivation as you.
Here are some tips for helping you choose the best buddy possible;
- Choose someone who shares your values and goals: When selecting an accountability buddy, choosing someone who shares your values and goals is important. If you have different priorities or objectives, it may be challenging to stay aligned and motivated together. Make sure you have common ground and similar aspirations.
- Choose someone reliable: You want to ensure that your accountability buddy is dependable and committed to the process. Choose someone who is responsible and can follow through on their commitments. This is crucial if you want to make progress and achieve your goals together.
- Choose someone positive and supportive: You want an accountability buddy who is positive and supportive, not critical or judgmental. The last thing you need is someone who will bring you down or discourage you. Look for someone genuinely interested in your success and willing to cheer you on.
- Choose someone honest and direct: Your accountability buddy should be honest and direct with you, even if it means telling you things you may not want to hear. You need someone who will give you honest feedback and hold you accountable when you’re not following through on your commitments.
- Choose someone with similar communication styles: It’s important to choose an accountability buddy who communicates in a way that works for you. If you prefer a straightforward and direct approach, you may not work well with someone who beats around the bush or sugarcoats things. Look for someone who communicates in a way that resonates with you.
- Choose someone at a similar level of commitment: It’s important to choose an accountability buddy who is at an equivalent level of commitment as you. If you’re highly motivated and committed to achieving your goals, you may not work well with someone who is more casual or less invested. Choose someone who is on the same page as you in terms of commitment and motivation.
Tips And Best Practices For Creating An Action Plan
Bringing everything together, you have everything you need to create an action plan for your life that will actually get results.
When writing a plan, actually take time to write down what you want to achieve and describe the direction you’re heading in. Do this in your journal, in a Word document, or just as a note you put on your computer screen.
Again, it’s all about figuring out what works for you.
Other tops tips and best practices include;
- Define your goal: Be specific about what you want to achieve. Your goal should be measurable, achievable, and relevant to your personal or professional growth. Write down your goal clearly and concisely.
- Identify the steps required to achieve your goal: Break down your goal into smaller, actionable steps. Identify the tasks or actions you need to take to reach your goal. Write them down in a logical sequence.
- Assign a timeline to each step: Assign a timeline or deadline to each step to ensure you stay on track. This will help you stay accountable and focused on achieving your goal.
- Prioritize your steps: Prioritize your steps based on their level of importance and urgency. This will help you allocate your time and resources effectively.
- Identify potential obstacles and solutions: Identify potential obstacles or roadblocks that may hinder your progress. Think of possible solutions to these obstacles in advance to prepare you to overcome them.
- Identify resources and support needed: Identify the resources, support, and tools you will need to achieve your goal. This can include people, finances, time, or technology.
- Review and revise your plan: Regularly review and revise your action plan as necessary. Be flexible and adjust your plan as you progress while keeping your ultimate goal in mind.
- Be accountable: Share your action plan with someone who can hold you accountable for your progress. This can be an accountability buddy, mentor, coach, or supervisor. Regular check-ins with your accountability partner can help keep you motivated and focused on your goal.
- Take action: The most critical step in achieving your goals is taking action. Start with the first step in your action plan and work through each step until you reach your goal.
Bear all this in mind, and you’ll have everything you need to create an action plan that can positively change your life forever!
Creating an action plan is one of the most effective ways to achieve your goals.
Setting SMART goals, breaking them down into smaller tasks, creating a timeline, and incorporating accountability allow you to stay focused and motivated, even when the going gets tough.
So, take action and start creating your action plan today. Your dreams are waiting!