How to develop an effective action plan

Many people underestimate the importance of making plans for all occasions. The notorious impromptu, which is often a consequence of laziness, it seems to them much more interesting than a piece of paper on which it is written what and how to do.

But a limited view of the plan is not uncommon. It seems as if it limits freedom and makes life bland. Is that so? The majority of leaders and successful people plan their days. Can we call them slaves of time, if an ordinary person lives without bothering to make lists?

Before we advise how to develop an action plan, let’s find out why it is needed at all.


Why do we need an action plan?

Many people aimlessly go through life without having a clear plan of action and then wonder where time goes and why they can not achieve their goals. There are several reasons why you need a clear and understandable plan.

It will help to prioritize

If you do not know how or do not want to prioritize, your boss, friends or family will do it for you. That is why the action plan is so important: it will show what you need to allocate time in the first place.

It plays the role of a filter that helps eliminate unnecessarily

Every day you get dozens of requests from different people or find yourself in circumstances that require unambiguous answers. If you say “Yes”, it will lead to the fact that other things do not have enough time. The action plan will be a kind of filter that will instantly filter out what is not worth the effort.

It will help maintain balance.

How often do you, doing the usual things from day to day, realized that too little time is given to important areas of your life? How often inattention to health led to the fact that had to invest in it a significant amount of money? The action plan (even if for a month) will allow you to decide in advance which areas and when to allocate time.

Following the plan, you will always know when this week has already planned a trip to the gym.

It will allow devoting more time to self-development

Self — development is one of the priorities of modern man. Thanks to it, you can learn to communicate with people, improve cognitive skills, improve creative and critical thinking. All this will give new opportunities or, in financial terms, will bring additional income.

If you do not plan time for self-development, then try to do it at least sometimes. Read more and comprehend, do not stop in your growth.

It helps to look to the future.

For many, the future seems dark and foggy, but only because they do not know where they will be in a few months. The action plan will show if not the final destination, then at least indicate the right direction.

It reduces stress levels

It is no secret that stress and tension most often occur when a person experiences the pressure of time. When it works, it endures, what will remain without rest, and when resting, chewing the thought that could work.

A clear action plan will show when to work and when to rest. Just by looking at it, you can calm down and stop worrying. All under control.

He’ll spare you regret.

Do you often regret that life goes in the wrong direction? If so, it is only because they have not thought out what exactly you need to allocate your time.

When you clearly know what you are doing and why you get rid of regrets. The main thing is to know that you are doing everything right and making every effort.

With an action plan, life will not be as boring as it may seem. It will not become predictable, but only manageable. Conduct an experiment, make a plan with the help of our tips and try to stick to it for several months.

But do not start writing a plan of action without a preparatory stage. The more serious you take it, the better the results.


Preparatory stage

Every person has goals, even if they are not written down on paper, and the action plan is not drawn up. In this case, we usually hope for maybe and for their ingenuity. However, it turns out that this is not enough: you need to learn not to be distracted, to do one thing at a time and work hard. All this seems so boring and people do not require attention.

Ambitious people also set goals, but they know that the higher the goals, the more important the action plan becomes. If in order to go to the store and buy a light bulb, do not need to plan, for global things it is necessary.

Why do we need a preparatory stage? Isn’t it more efficient to just write down a list of goals for a month and write down a step-by-step instruction for each of them? Sometimes this is really the way out, but if we want to achieve great success, we need to do serious preliminary work: to learn a lot about ourselves and our psyche, to reveal our values, to clarify the goals and much more. Just sit down and write a plan on your knee in a couple of minutes is not an option. Such an approach can only aggravate the situation.

Let’s try to start with a small goal and make a plan of action on it. What would you like to achieve, say, within a month? When the answer is found, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I start working on my goal right now? How?
  • Can I work on it both in the short term (week) and in the long term (month)?
  • Is this goal completely under my control?
  • What factors are under my control?
  • What factors are beyond my control?
  • What do I have to do to get them under control?
  • Can other people help me?
  • What can I offer them in return for their help?
  • How do I know I’m moving towards my goal in the right direction?
  • How will I measure my progress?
  • How do I know I’ve reached my goal?

Remember that this is only a preparatory stage, sketches, which are necessary in order to make an effective plan of action after a while.

A plan is something measurable that gives you direction. And that’s exactly what these questions give. Without them, there is a high probability that you will stumble on the first obstacle and lose all motivation.

Yeah, the plan could go wrong, too. On the way, be sure to meet the problems and failures. Therefore, it must be flexible. This means that each step should potentially have an alternative. It doesn’t really matter what you do if it makes sense at the moment. So if now you can not get through to the right person, you do other things related to the primary goal.

The plan must meet your standards, values, and beliefs. There’s no point in creating a plan you don’t believe in.

It is important to remind yourself that any action plan requires something from you. For example, that you make certain sacrifices, put efforts, refuse idle pastime, change habits and patterns of thinking of another. This should be considered in advance.

For example, if you want to make an action plan for self-development, it is necessary that the experience, skills and knowledge combined with the actions that you will take. Perhaps, it makes little sense to read articles about how to interview for your dream job, yet if there are no relevant skills. Instead, it is better to learn critical, logical and creative thinking to lay a good Foundation. Move gradually, do not create gaps in knowledge.


How to develop an effective action plan

Once the preparatory phase is complete, there are still a few more steps to take before you create your action plan.


Clarify your goals

You have already chosen one small goal and asked a number of questions to find out what difficulties you can face and how to overcome them.

Now it’s time to record all your goals for the year. Take your time and set aside as much time as you need. It is not necessary to record the smallest, select 4-5 most important.

Your goal should be in complete harmony with your personality: beliefs, values, lifestyle.

But how do you know if you need a specific goal? Of course, with the right questions:

  • What goal would I like to achieve?
  • What are my priorities and values in life?
  • Does this aim fit my personality?
  • Does it fit my current lifestyle?
  • Will my current image fit the purpose or hinder it?
  • Does this goal meet my personal standards?
  • Does this goal contradict my other goals?
  • Does it meet my expectations?
  • Is the goal real and achievable? Do I have any doubts about this?
  • Is it consistent with the purpose of my life?
  • Is she the congruent person I’m aiming to become?

Some people spend a lot of time to achieve a goal that they do not fit. They get unnecessary speciality, learn a language in which they do not plan to talk and do things that they do not believe in. It is better to learn from them, not from your own experience because life passes mercilessly.


Find out what results and what tools you need

Clarifying goals is the first step, but now you need to figure out what you want to achieve.

So you have a purpose. It is located on top of a high mountain and is covered with thick fog. So far, there is no understanding of how to get there. You can now jerk up, but you do not have the necessary resources and tools. This approach can be extremely dangerous. One false step will make all the work go down the drain.

To get a clear understanding of this “grief”, you need to perform three tasks.

Task one: visualization of the future

This is a well-known technique by which you imagine that you have already achieved your goal. The more details, the better: what do you feel, how does it look, how does it smell, how does it feel and what does it taste like? You have to believe with all your heart that you have just reached the goal and are in a victorious state.

To help yourself move into the future and believe in it, answer the following questions:

  • What goal did I achieve?
  • Where am I?
  • Who’s nearby?
  • What I see and hear?
  • What do I think?
  • What do you feel?
  • What exactly do?
  • What do I do?

It’s nice because you don’t need to worry about how you have achieved this goal and what difficulties you have overcome. Enjoy this state and let the emotions consume you.

Task two: reverse the process

The reverse process will allow you to develop a reliable action plan that will help to come to victory and achieve the goal.

Take a step back and ask yourself:

  • What was the last step I took before I reached this goal?
  • What exactly did I do and what did I think about when I took this step?
  • Have I used any resources and tools to do this?
  • Why did I take this step?
  • Did I encounter any problems when taking this step? If Yes, with which ones?

Take another step back. Ask yourself:

  • What was my penultimate step?
  • What was the step I took to the penultimate? (third from the end)
  • What was the fourth step from the end?

Keep up the good work until you get to the present moment. Why does this technique work? You were not just on top, but also dispelled the fog that surrounds it. You psychologically prepared for a long journey and experienced some important emotions. From an abstract goal turned into a very real and achievable.

Task three: environmental analysis process

It is a coaching term that is used to test the likely consequences of a change. In other words, you have to figure out what effect achieving this goal will have in your life.

As you complete this task, consider both the positive and negative results of achieving the goal. Think also about the time and effort that may be required and how it will affect other areas of life.

Ask yourself:

  • What people will be affected by the results that I achieve my goal?
  • Can they suffer?
  • What should I sacrifice to achieve the goal?
  • How much time will I have to sacrifice? What are the resources? What effort?
  • How will achieving my goal affect the roles I play in my life? My other goals? Priorities?
  • What adjustments will I have to make in my life?
  • What will be the negative and positive consequences?
  • Given all my answers, do I really want to achieve this goal?

In some cases, you can really decide that sheepskin is not worth the candle, and the number of victims and the time spent — it’s too much.


Define your limits

All of us have limitations in the form of time, effort, energy, money, knowledge, experience and more. It is important to identify them and admit it to yourself. For example, often people think that in the day 48 hours, and then suddenly it turns out that 24, and still need to sleep.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the limitations in the form of time I can devote to achieving my goal?
  • What knowledge and experience do I lack?
  • How motivated am I? How disciplined?
  • Do I have enough money to see this through?
  • What other restrictions exist?

Remember that the best plan is realistic. And the more honest the answers, the more effective it will be.

However, smart people are able to circumvent the restrictions. They are aware of them, but at the same time looking for a chance to achieve their goals in other ways. Ask yourself:

  • How can I overcome these limitations?
  • How can I get the necessary knowledge?
  • Where can I find motivation and inspiration?
  • How can I improve my physical and mental endurance?
  • How can I get an extra few hours?
  • How can I reduce my expenses?
  • Where can I get the money needed to achieve the goal?
  • How can I use my time with maximum efficiency?
  • What kind of people can help me?

The more time you spend on these issues, the more confident you will be: there is always a way out. One has only to strain your head a little, as it turns out that the world is full of opportunities, and almost any limitation can be made an advantage.


Form a new worldview

Before and after achieving a great goal, you are different personalities. Whether you like it or not, you will change in the process. Whoever doesn’t want it will drop the case halfway and back off. Therefore, a change in Outlook is necessary.

In order to constantly follow your action plan, you need to cultivate a working mood, discipline, patience, flexibility, perseverance and much more.

For example, discipline is needed to stick to the plan, no matter what. Patience-to continues to work in the absence of results. Flexibility – to change your course in case of unforeseen circumstances. Perseverance-to continues experimenting if previous attempts were unsuccessful.

In addition, you need to believe in yourself, despite the fact that in terms of this item, most likely, will not. Therefore, remember that self-confidence is the fuel that will help to move forward in difficult situations.


Create a plan

We can start! Select the 4-5 most important goals, find out what period they apply, and for each of them make a step by the step action plan.


Receive feedback

Even if everything goes smoothly, constantly monitor your progress and ask yourself the question:” how can you make it even better?”.

Here are more questions that will not hurt to ask yourself in the planning process:

  • What decisions did I make and what actions did I take last week?
  • What results did I get?
  • Did I have any achievements? What is it?
  • Have I made mistakes? Why?
  • Have I gotten closer to my goal in the past week?
  • Do I need to make some adjustments?
  • What opportunities have I missed? Can this be corrected?
  • What lessons did I learn?

If something doesn’t work, don’t despair and ask the right questions to help you be productive. Feedback will allow you to reach the goal several times faster.

We wish you good luck!