If you read my post on SMART Goals, you could be set up with great goals to improve your life. However goals without action will remain goals unfulfilled. To get Real Results, you must take Focused Action!
We’ve all set goals before with the greatest of intentions. In some cases we may have set generally the same goal multiple times but still find the goal uncompleted. For example, I’ve heard many people say they were going to write a book or complete a home improvement project and somehow their goal never gets completed.
An Action Plan is a plan that identifies the steps you need to take in order to complete your goals.
Developing your Action Plan:
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before. Any goal can be broken down into smaller actionable steps.
Let’s say you have the following goal.
Goal: I will loose 8 pounds in the next 30 days to wear my favorite jeans again and stay fit.
Your Action Plan may include a few different strategies to achieve the goal.
One strategy will be focused on what you’re consuming and calorie intake while another may be focused on how you exercise and workout.
Strategy 1: Reduce Calorie Consumption
- Get a notebook for logging your calorie intake
- Research and define your ideal calorie intake
- Plan out your meal calendar for the month
- Measure your portions before eating
- Monitor your recorded calorie intake through each day to hit target calorie intake
Strategy 2: Working Out
- Sign up to a local gym or with a fitness buddy with similar goals
- Schedule an appointment with the fitness instructor
- Schedule time into your calendar for working out 3 times in the week
- Identify ways which you could be more active through out the day (ex: using the stairs)
Now I’m not a fitness instructor but if you follow a catered fitness plan and diet for loosing weight and follow it you should be able to loose 1 – 2 pounds a week.
Executing your Action Plan:
Once you have your plan created, executing the plan is key. A plan that is not executed will not produce results. If you want Real Results, you must stay focused and prioritize. IF your goal is really important to you I suggest that you make progress on your goal daily. Make the actions of your goals priority over other regular to-dos or agendas that are in your daily life. For instance if you need to exercise, do the laundry and complete some house chores, exercise first! Far too often people put other things first and then don’t get to the items that are most important to them.
Measuring and Refining your Action Plan:
If you are working to complete a SMART goal you should be able to Measure your progress through time. In our example we have someone looking to loose eight pounds in 30 days. In order to measure progress we would look at the KPIs or Key Performance Indicators that can show the progress towards the related goal.
In this example we may set up KPIs as the amount of pounds lost as in the following example:
- Week 1: 2 pounds lost
- Week 2: 4 pounds lost
- Week 3: 6 pounds lost
- Week 4: 8 pounds lost
This way we can see if we are on track to hit our goal. Now our KPIs may not always line up exactly. It may take a bit more time to get results than anticipated. However in this case if we’re at the end of week 2 and we haven’t lost any weight we can tell we are not on track to hit our overall goal of 8 pounds in 30 days unless we change our efforts in some way. If this happens we may need to refine our strategies or actions to get better results.
When you commit to achieving a goal, you may not always hit your goals as initially intended, but if you did follow your strategies and actions you will have made more progress than you would have without them. If you completed the strategies and actions and hardly made any progress at all you’ve gained knowledge on what strategies and actions are ineffective and need to go back to the drawing board. The crucial thing here is to not give up but stay determined to achieve your results and if you keep trying actions, measuring and adjusting you’ll eventually find a way that will give you results and lead you closer to achieving your goal.
If you need tips on staying focused or finding drive you may need to develop a stronger vision.
If you need tips for procrastinating or being more efficient with your time you may need to check out this post with tips on time management.
Keep in mind:
If a goal is too big and would contain a huge amount of action steps, it may need to be broken up into phases or smaller goals.