How to make a plan; seems like a vague statement or mission until you stop and think about just how many plans you make in a day. Plan to meet friends for dinner or drinks, plan to get the kids to school on time, plan to get groceries, clean the house, get to the gym, spend time with your partner or spouse, plan what your work day or week will look like, plan to make meals; the list is endless! With people making plans for so many day-to-day tasks it seems odd that people don’t stop and think to make a plan to reach their larger life goals. Making a plan is literally mapping out your path to success. By now you should have already found out how to make (SMARTER) goals, and what characteristics you’ll need to be armed with in order to achieve your goals. Now it’s time to learn how to make an action plan – the final ingredient to ensuring victory over your mission.
By this point you should have a goal in place, you should also be committed to your goal, focused on the end result, have a positive attitude, a healthy support group, be willing to ask for help if necessary, and of course have a reward set up in order to congratulate you (and your team) upon successful completion of your goal.
The next task is to break down the steps needed to achieve your goal. Sometimes this is the trickiest part so in order to elevate any potential stress you should just start writing steps that pop into your mind – they don’t have to be in order at this point. Once you’ve exhausted all the ideas in your head now it is time to organize the chaos. Go through your random list and put numbers next to the steps in order of importance and chronological order (what needs to be done in order to get the remaining steps done). Once you’ve done that you can combine steps if they are relevant and eliminate anything that isn’t important or useful to make the list concise.
Now that you’ve got your logical list of steps necessary to achieve your goal you need to set a timeline. Go through each step and write down a realistic estimation of how long it will take you (and your team) to accomplish the task. Do this for each step and add up the months estimated to give you a goal deadline. If the goal deadline is too far away then you need to amend the time frames you’ve identified. If there is no leeway in your time frames then you need to consider delegating a task to a member on your support team in order to meet your goal in less time. People working together is always helpful but be sure to not delegate everything to others in order to avoid burning your support system out, or feeling like you personally haven’t accomplished your goal; because you really haven’t.
Execute & Track
The next element in making a plan is to execute and track. Both are very simple, get started on what you’ve identified as the first step and track your progress. You can write down any obstacles that showed up, record when and what you (or other members on your team) excelled at, make note of any fun facts or information that can be utilized elsewhere along the way. And of course track and record how long each step took – making sure to not exceed the time limit you’ve set if at all possible. Repeat these actions until you’ve completed all steps.
An action plan is very important to accomplishing your goals, and once you’ve utilized your first plan you’ll find that making action plans gets easier and easier; you’ll also notice how much more efficiently and stress free you will accomplish your goals.