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The Ultimate Guide To Action Plans

Have you ever set a goal and had no idea where to start? If so, this guide will help you to create the exact steps you need to take, from start to finish, to achieve your goal.

At the bottom of this guide, I have shared two example goals and their action plans. One is for eating healthier and the other is updating your website.

If you want a worksheet to go with this guide, download the SMART goal setting kit below and go to the worksheet on action plans.

6 Simple Steps To Design Your Action Plan In 2020
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What Stops Us From Taking Action?

A variety of reasons can stop us from taking action on our goals, projects and to-do lists. Below I have listed the 8 most common reasons that we do not take action.

  • Starting
    • You know what needs to be done to achieve your goals but you do not know how to start.
  • Overwhelm
    • Similar to the above point, you know what needs to be completed but you are overwhelmed and unsure of how you can do it all.
  • Fear
    • Fear is a common reason that stops people from taking action. This can be fear of failure and making mistakes, fear of disappointing yourself or others and being afraid of change. As well as numerous other reasons.
  • Self-doubt
    • Self-doubt can show up as limiting beliefs about yourself. Look for ‘I can not…’ statements. Common self-doubts are not believing you are smart enough, not believing you can do it, it is too hard or complicated for you.
  • Hard
    • It is often easier to continue doing what we are doing instead of changing and doing something new. So rather than pushing outside of our comfort zone, we stay where we are. The short-term rewards of comfort outweighs the long-term rewards.
  • Perfect Time And Opportunity
    • The truth is there is no right timing. It is never too early or late to start taking action and changing your life. And sitting around waiting for an opportunity to happen will not work, you need to create an opportunity.
  • Other People’s Opinions
    • Whether it is from a family member, friend or stranger, their words can stop you from taking action. It is important to remember that most people follow the normal path through life and do not follow their own dreams. So do not let their fears and doubts stop you.
  • No Time
    • If you are busy, busy, busy but have not got time to take action on their goals. (link to busy vs productive post). Then you have to make the time. Schedule your time, reduce your priorities and think about what you can do in 10-15 minute snatches of time.

What Is The Difference Between An Action Plan and A To-Do List?

An action plan and a to-do list are similar. Both are fantastic for planning and helping you reach your goals. But they do have some differences. Which is why I believe action plans are excellent for goal setting and achieving.

Action Plan

Action plans help you to know what needs to be done for a goal or project. It breaks your big goal or project down into small, manageable steps. They are great for longer projects. You can clearly see everything related to the project.

To-Do List

A to-do list is a list of tasks that need to be completed during a specific time period, commonly a day. They are great as they are quick and simple to create. You list everything that needs to be done from the small and mundane to the bigger and more exciting tasks.

6 Steps To A Goal Action Plan
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How Do You Format An Action Plan?

In six steps, you can have an action plan for your latest project or goal. I would recommend setting aside an hour or two so you can focus on creating the plan. Creating an action plan upfront will save you time in the long run.

1. Choose A Goal Or Project

The first step is to choose a goal or project to focus on. This could be for your work or personal life. If you have not set your goals yet, read this post on setting SMART goals first.

What goal or project do you really want to complete?

2. List The Steps

Make a list of all the steps that you need to take to achieve that goal or complete that project. These will be how you track your progress so think about everything you need to do.

Where are you now? Where do you want to be? What are all the things you need to do?

3. Order The Steps

Now we have a list of all the steps we need to achieve our goal, the next step is to order them. Often the steps will build on top of one another. Here are some questions to help you.

What needs to be done first? Do you have to have completed a specific task before you can move onto the next step?

4. Add Deadlines

Add realistic deadlines and dates to your ordered steps. If you are unsure, err on the side of caution and give yourself a bit of extra time to allow for any delays or unexpected changes.

How long will it take you to complete each step?

5. Create A List Of Resources Needed

When you get stuck or feel like some inspiration or guidance, having a list of resources that you can reference will be a lifesaver. These can be websites, blogs, friends, mentors, books, podcasts, videos etc. Anything that will help you achieve your goals.

What resources do you need to complete your goal?

6. Track Your Progress

Regularly review your action plan. This is best done weekly, when you plan your week is the ideal time to review it. And it is important to update it when things change. The simplest way to track your progress is to use Asana or Trello and add in all your steps with their deadlines and a resource file.

What is the best way for you to track progress? Do you prefer paper or digital?

8 Reasons You Are Not Taking Action
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What Is An Action Plan Example?

Here is a business and personal example of action plans for you to reference. These will give you an idea on what an action plan looks like in reality.

Example Number 1 – Update Website

  • Project:
    • Update Website
  • Steps:
    • Find a web developer and designer
    • Take stock of what you have on your website
    • Create a list all your blog posts
    • Find someone to do your branding
    • Work with a web developer and designer and brander
    • Brainstorm what features you want and how you want it to look
    • etc.
  • Ordered Steps:
    • 1. Brainstorm what I want to change
    • 2. Find a brand designer
    • 3. Find a web developer/designer
    • etc.
  • Add Deadlines To Steps
    • Step 1 = 30.4.20
    • Step 2 = 31.5.20
    • Step 3 = 14.6.20
    • etc.
  • Resources Needed
    • Pen & paper to brainstorm
    • Your website to review it,
    • Google and friends to ask for designer recommendations
    • etc.
  • Trackign Progress:
    • Ongoing using Asana

Example Number 2 – Eating Healthier:

  • Goal:
    • Eat healthier
  • Steps:
    • Learn how to meal plan
    • Create a weekly meal plan
    • Research and save some healthy recipes to go on your meal plan
    • List all the healthy snacks
    • Drink 8 cups of water
    • Get a reusable water bottle
    • Try 1 new vegetable or fruit each week
    • etc.
  • Ordered Steps:
    • 1. Learn how to meal plan
    • 2. Research and save healthy recipes
    • 3. Create a meal plan
    • 4. List all healthy snacks
    • 5. Get reusable water bottle
    • 6. Drink 8 cups of water
    • 7. Try 1 new fruit or veg each week
    • etc.
  • Add Deadlines To Steps:
    • Step 1 = 30.4.20
    • Step 2 = 5.5.20
    • Step 3 = 15.5.20
    • Step 4 = 20.5.20
    • Step 5 = 27.5.20
    • Step 6 = 31.5.20
    • Step 7 = 31.5.20
    • etc.
  • Resources Needed:
    • Blogs to learn about meal planning
    • Pinterest for finding recipes
    • Amazon for water bottle,
    • Supermarket (online or in-person)
    • Google to research snacks
    • etc.
  • Tracking Progress:
    • Ongoing using a notebook or Trello
The Ultimate Guide To Creating An Action Plan
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To Summarise

To create an action plan, all you need is a goal or project you want to achieve. After that, all that is required is a couple of hours to break it down into manageable steps and to take stock of what knowledge and resources you currently have and what you need to get or learn. A crucial step is to track your progress to ensure you are still working towards your goal.

This guide has walked you through how to create an action plan for your next goal or project. If you found this helpful, please share it on Pinterest.

And if you want to use my worksheet, just download the SMART Goal Setting Kit below and use the action plan in there.

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