How to Create an Action Plan to Reach Your Goals and Implement It
The new year is approaching, and it is a good time to evaluate our progress in the last year, and re-evaluate our objectives and goals for the next year. Doing this is very important to me. I do it every year and it really is a fantastic way to move forward in my life. I am a person of action, I don’t like being stagnant and I rarely am. But it is true that sometimes I’m not sure what my next steps should be and occasionally I find myself a little lost.
That is why this year I have read several books on this subject, and thanks to them I have managed to capture on paper a step by step process to create an action plan and implement it in my day to day.
First of all I have to tell you one thing. The most important ingredient to achieve a goal is determination. If you only “feel like” achieving it, let me tell you right away, it will be very difficult for you to achieve it. It is imperative that you are convinced and motivated to achieve this goal. Everything else I will explain how, but you will be the one who has to put in the determination.
The first thing you will need is a planner or a notebook. I recommend you use a planner, as it is much easier to organize the deadlines that you are going to set, but you decide! Our planners are specifically designed to focus on achieving your goals, including annual, monthly, weekly and daily planning, among many other things. You can see all of our planners here.
The gasoline that will fuel you to achieving your goals, are your whys.
The next thing you will need is a little time for yourself. You need to be alone and you need to be able to spend some time with no interruptions, if possible. It is important, since the next determining factor to achieve your goals is clarity. You have to be very clear about your goals and why you want to achieve them, and for this you will have to think long and hard.
I will tell you a secret … in reality the gasoline that will fuel you to achieving your goals, are your whys. Why you want to achieve that goal will be what you will have to return to at that moment when you hit rock bottom and don’t feel like accomplishing the tasks.
Do you understand why it’s so important to be very, very clear on this? Find your whys and hold on to them very tightly, since we all have at least one.
Ok, so let’s get to it!
Step 1: Be Clear About Your Goals
Write the objectives or goals you want to achieve on a piece of paper. If you have one of our planners, in all of them there are specific sheets dedicated to this every month. You must be very specific in describing your goals. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for you to carry out an action plan. For example: “I want to lose weight” would be an unspecified goal. “I want to lose 10 kg in the next 6 months” is a much more specific objective and it will be much easier to know what to do when implementing it.
As I mentioned before, we must also analyze the whys of our wishes. There is always an emotional reason to get all the things we desire in life. Identifying what they are will help us in a way you can’t imagine.
Step 2: Deadlines
This step is also very important. Setting a goal without setting a deadline is as if you did nothing. That deadline or end date will give us an urgency that we will have to meet, and only because of this we will feel much more obligated to carry out everything necessary to achieve it. Let me remind you that our friend, the determination, needs to be in place, but sometimes it is hard for us to face the things we have to do. Having this urgency will be the push that will help us in moments of weakness.
For each objective, set a deadline to achieve it. Following the previous example “I want to lose 10 kg in the next 6 months”, we will establish the final date to reach it.
Step 3: Divide Your Goal Into Smaller Tasks
This is the most complicated and time-consuming step. Our main objective is too big to reach immediately, therefore we must divide it into bite-size snacks, that don’t overwhelm us and consequently don’t make us give up as soon as we get the chance. The simpler the tasks are, the easier it will be for us to take action.
Therefore make an outline, divide the objective into sub-tasks, and these into smaller sub-tasks, and so on until you identify all of the steps you need to follow. Later you can add more tasks as they arise, but this will be your road map to start.
Once you have this blueprint you will have to establish an order for your priorities. You will have many tasks and there will be some that you will have to attend before others. I recommend that you use the following system: ABCDE or 12345. Next to each task write a letter or number depending on their importance and urgency, or by the sequential order in which you must carry them out. And don’t forget to set deadlines for each of the tasks. Little by little you will see that your plan is taking shape.
If you see that you have many tasks and your sheet has become complicated, you can clean it up on a new sheet. It is very important to be clear about the order and priority of all the sub-tasks necessary to implement your plan in order to achieve your goals. Once you have everything very, very clear, then you can go to the next step.
Step 4: Write Each Goal, Task and Sub-Task in Your Planner
Make use of all the calendars and monthly planning sheets of your planner to establish all the tasks and the deadlines in which to fulfill them. Write all the different tasks in the corresponding place, so you can be clear about what you have to do and when.
This is why it is very important that you have dedicated the necessary time in the previous step, it is important that you be clear about the order in which you should complete those tasks and which ones have a higher priority.
It is true that your tasks may change as you go, therefore I would not recommend using the weekly organization sheets so far in advance. You will see every day what you have to address in each moment, but having everything in writing will push you forward and somehow force you to do it. If it’s not written down, it’s easier to procrastinate, but if it is in your planner, you have a sense of obligation that helps you accomplish your tasks.
Step 5: Take Action!
Without taking action and taking steps we will not achieve anything. And don’t wait until things are perfect things either, take action now and then you can perfect later. The important thing is to take the first step and get some traction. Once you start it’s easier to continue, so go back to your whys, don’t look for excuses and go for it! Think that without taking action, our goal will never be more than a mere desire.
Without taking action, our goal will never be more than a mere desire.
Step 6: Revise Your Goals Monthly and Weekly
As time goes by you will have to re-evaluate if your roadmap is still in line with your goal or if you need to change anything. You will learn things on the go, and you will move towards what you want, but you may have to make some adjustments.
It is possible that your priorities change, or more urgent tasks arise, so don’t skip this step any month. I actually think it seems like a very good idea to do this step once a week and establish what are the most important goals for that particular week.
The more specific you are each week and each day, writing down each and every one of the tasks that you must carry out, the easier it will be to cross out the things on the list. And crossing things off the list feels amazing!
I hope this post helps you to be more effective and productive in your day to day and when you set goals. There is no other way to get to the next level in our life than to set goals and go for them, whatever that goal is for you.