Do you feel overwhelmed looking at your list of goals? Or do you desperately want to achieve something but don’t know how to start working on it? First, take a deep breath. And then grab a planner and a pen. Let me help you with how to make an action plan to achieve your goals.
Sometimes, a goal can be overwhelming and seems so out of reach for a lot of reasons. It may be because it looks so impossible in our current state, the deadline is fast-approaching, there are too many goals, external factors, etc.
Let me tell you this, as long as we have the right goal, you can do it. No matter how big it looks, we can do this. We just need a proper mindset, plan, and execution. And I’m sure that you know this!
To deal with this overwhelming feeling, we need to have an action plan or a sequence of steps we need to take to achieve a goal. Basically, it is composed of smaller versions of our goal.
Importance of Action Plan.
Achieving our goals is not just about setting and doing them. It is also important to think about how we plan to achieve our goals.
To illustrate, finishing a marathon does not only include going to the event, running, and finishing it. Aside from doing it the day itself, days or even months of preparation is necessary. Training includes a gradual increase in the distance until reaching the target one. And decrease the time to reach the finish line.
Yes, it is possible to reach the finish line without planning but it will be so hard that it might have some damage to us.
With this, it is important to learn how to make an action plan to:
1. Avoid burnout and stay motivated
It feels great to check off one task in our to-do-list, right? Every time we cross one out, it makes us feel more productive and drives us to do more.
But, it only feels good when we can check off tasks. If there is a pile of unfinished work, it can be overwhelming. As a result, anxiety rises which leads to procrastination. Out of sight, out of mind.
This usually happens when the to-do-list is filled with major tasks only. Of course, it will take longer to finish one.
To avoid this, divide major goals into smaller tasks. This is what an action plan is for!
2. Define a definite time frame and be accountable
One part of the action plan is a time frame: when to start and finish a task. By stating these, we put pressure on ourselves to accomplish this task within the allotted time frame; we will feel accountable to do it on time.
Setting a goal without imposing a deadline is risky.
We will do it in the future. When is that future?
Having a schedule for each smaller task also gives us a clear idea of when we will achieve our main goal.
3. Measure success and celebrate milestones
Without an action plan, it is hard to measure our progress because there are no clear criteria. When we directly look at our goal, we forget about those milestones we just passed by. And this crushes our spirit.
But it makes so much difference when we divide a major goal into smaller ones. Every time we finish one task in our action plan, it means that we are one step closer to our dream. Each step is a progress that we need to celebrate. And celebrations make us proud and motivated!
7 Steps on How to make an action plan
Before making an action plan, it is important to know what your goal is and your whys are. Self-reflection is important in planning a goal so that we are certain that we really want to do this. If we don’t, it will be a waste of time and energy.
After self-reflection, we visualize our goal and every step we need to do. Visualization makes us imagine the future we want and how to achieve it. Aside from this, self-reflection and visualization make an action plan easier to do.
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Now that we know what we want to achieve, and the general idea on how to do it, let’s dive deeper into this goal-setting.
1. Set S.M.A.R.T goals
A vague, unrealistic goal is impossible to achieve. For example, “I want to be fit next month.”
First, what is fit? Second, how will we measure this? Lastly, can we do this by next month? It is hard to give a certain answer to these questions which means this is not a SMART goal.
A goal that is achievable should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Let’s make our sample goal SMART: I want to lose 3 pounds of weight by the end of the month.
2. Prioritize goals
It is important to prioritize goals because we can’t tackle them all with the same amount of effort. If we do, we might not achieve any of them or we might hurt ourselves.
There are different aspects of our life: our selves, relationships, career, spiritual, health, wealth, etc. By prioritizing goals, we know what aspect of our lives we should give the most attention to at certain times.
Of course, I am not saying to prioritize one only. It is just that we can’t prioritize them all at the same time. By planning this, we are actually giving each aspect of our life a chance to grow.
With this, we can prioritize our goals and set deadlines for each task. It is good to have one goal for each aspect at a time so that we can have that balance.
3. List down the task for each goal
Now, this is the main part of making an action plan.
For each goal, list down all the tasks to achieve this goal. It is like a to-do-list but it is focused on a single goal.
Think of these tasks as stepping stones to THE dream. They should be attainable and organized. To achieve this particular goal, what is the first thing we should do? What’s next? And so on.
Do this for every goal. And remember to congratulate yourself after every task!
4. Set a time frame
After listing down all the mini-goals for a major goal, set a time frame for each task. This serves as our deadline.
By setting a deadline, we are more likely to do these tasks. But to do this, we should set realistic deadlines. If it is too early, we might feel overwhelmed which leads us to not doing it. If it is too late, we might procrastinate and then forget about it.
You know yourself. So, set deadlines you know that you can do, but don’t be afraid to push yourself a little more.
5. Identify the resources needed
There are tasks that need tools to be accomplished. Include anything that can aid this certain task.
After making a list of the resources, we need to prepare them beforehand so that there will be no excuse why we can’t do and finish them on time. Aside from this, seeing the prepared tools reminds us and probably excites us to do the task.
For example, a display of your yoga mat, gym clothes, and candle set your mood to do yoga. If they are out of sight, chances are they’ll be out of mind too.
6. Visualize and track progress
After the planning and preparation, it is good to have a visual presentation of our action plan. It can be a table, flow chart, or those cute bullet journal ideas.
With this, we can easily visualize where we are in the action plan, what is the next step, and when is the deadline. It makes tracking our progress easy.
Also, this makes us easily see our achievement. Imagine those tasks with highlights stating that it is done? Yay! *dance party*
Personal action plan template pdf
Let me help you with how to make an action plan. To get you started in crushing your goals, I made a printable goal-setting planner with an action plan template. This template has easy to follow instructions.
Join my email list to get a downloadable template!
Now, you are ready to take action and achieve your goals and dreams!
Planning is not easy, right? But, this can significantly help us crush our goals. Without proper planning, there is a huge possibility that we get side-tracked. Those early boosts of motivation can’t get us that far.
It is already hard to achieve our goal, so much more when we are not ready.
The new year is fast approaching. Yeah, I know that there are many new year’s resolutions that we have not accomplished (yet?), and it is so disappointing. But, we can’t deny that we have to start at some time.
When is the best time to start something other than new years? Let’s start planning now and be the person we want to be!
Share in the comment section your preparations for the New Year.
Rooting for you,
Meredith Blaise ♡