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Published on January 14, 2021

What Is An Action Plan And Why Is it Important?

What Is An Action Plan And Why Is it Important?

All of us have goals we want to accomplish in life. Maybe you want to do your taxes yourself for the first time or lose weight. You may also have a really big goal, such as starting a successful business or remodeling your kitchen. But to achieve your goals efficiently and effectively, you must have an action plan. An action plan is a tool that lists the tasks you need to finish to achieve your goal by a certain date.

The length and complexity of your action plan will depend on the complexity of your goal. If you just want to change your oil, your action plan can be a simple, half-page document. On the other hand, if you want to build that new kitchen, your action plan will consist of many pages and will likely have diagrams and drawings.

In this article, I’ll explain why an action plan is important and how to create one to help you achieve your goals.

Why Is an Action Plan Important?

An action plan is critical in accomplishing goals because it will help you stay motivated and ensure that you’re on track to complete your goal in a reasonable amount of time.

Have you ever planned to do something but procrastinated? Having an organized action plan will help you overcome procrastination by keeping you motivated with a visual map of exactly what you need to do and when you need to complete each task. It’s easy to put off that big project when you don’t have a solid plan to get it done.

You may lose motivation because it feels overwhelming. But after you create an action plan, you may find that you aren’t overwhelmed anymore because all of the tasks are laid out in an organized, step-by-step manner.

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The action plan will help you monitor your progress. You’ll have an official start and end date, and you’ll know approximately how long it will take to finish each step. It can also help ensure that you’re staying within a certain budget and if you need to make adjustments to your time or resources.

How to Create an Action Plan

Here are the 6 steps you should follow in creating an action plan.

1. Define Your Goal

If you want to create an action plan, you first need to know your goal. To do this effectively, make sure you create a SMART goal, which must be:

  • Specific – you must clearly identify the goal. An example is weight loss.
  • Measurable – define the metrics or measures you’ll use to make sure you’ve completed the goal. An example is “I want to lose 70 pounds.”
  • Attainable – make sure your goal is realistic. Losing 70 pounds in two months isn’t attainable, but losing 70 pounds in 7 months is something you can do.
  • Relevant – make sure the goal is very important to you. This is a critical part of the process. Why are you doing this? Why is it important to you? Make sure your goal is aligned with your values and is authentic to you. Don’t do something just because of peer pressure or because of a reason that conflicts with your core values.
  • Time-bound – you must have a specific start and end date. If your goal has a lot of steps, you’ll also want to know how long each step will take.

In our weight loss example, the goal can be: “I want to lose 70 pounds in 7 months because I want to be in good physical and mental health. I want more energy and I want to set a good example for my kids. I want them to know that health is very important.”

2. Pick a Tool to Create Your Action Plan

The tool you use to create your action plan will depend on the complexity of your plan. If you have a large, complicated plan, you may need specialized software to aid you.

Most action plans can be done with readily available software, such as Microsoft Excel or Word. I use Excel or Word for all of my action plans. A very simple action plan can even be written on a piece of paper.

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3. List and Weigh Your Options

Now that you have your goal, list all of your options and the costs and benefits of each one. Continuing with our dieting example, you’d research the different dieting options and then list the pros and cons of each one.

Maybe the Mediterranean diet is the best one for you. Perhaps the keto diet would work well. Or maybe you want to create your custom diet. If necessary, get help from experts in the area in which you’re doing research.

4. Define Your Budget and Identify Resources

Not all goals require a defined budget, but many do. Define your budget up front. Then, identify the resources you need to complete each step of the plan.

The main resources you will need to achieve your goals are time, money, people, and technology. There may be certain technologies you want to use, but you don’t have enough money to buy them. If you have more money, you can buy more technology and hire more people to help you complete certain steps, which decreases the amount of time it will take to finish your project.

If you have fewer resources, it will take more time to reach your end date. Find the ideal balance for your goal.

5. List the Steps You Need to Take

Just like what I did in this article, you should list the steps you need to take in your action plan.

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First, create a detailed, prioritized list of steps you must take to achieve your goal. Start with the very first step and end with the last one. Some steps will involve a series of other steps. Finding a good nutrition specialist may involve doing internet research, checking your current health plan for nutrition specialists, and talking to friends to see if they have specialists they can recommend to you.

Next, make sure you document all of the steps and, if applicable, all sub-steps involved in achieving your goal. Also indicate who is responsible for performing the steps, if necessary. And include what tools, technologies, and other things you need to finish the steps, along with the price of these things.

Then, ensure that you’re operating within your budget.

Finally, Document how long it will take to finish each step. If you have people helping you, make sure you work with them to determine exactly how long it will take to finish each step.

6. Monitor and Adjust Your Plan

Once you execute your plan, you have to closely monitor and adjust it to make sure you’re staying within your budget and that you’re completing each task on time. If some things cost more than your original estimates, you may have to use more economical options. Another way to cut costs is to learn how to do more tasks yourself instead of hiring others to do them.

I saved a lot of money creating my website for my life/business coaching and speaking website. You have to make sure you have enough time to learn new skills and technologies, which can sometimes require a big-time investment.

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You may find that some tasks will take less or more time than you first estimated, so you’ll have to adjust your timeline as needed.

Final Thoughts

Creating an action plan gives you a clear direction. It’s a visual guide that will help you achieve your goals in an effective and timely manner.

A well-crafted action plan will help you stay motivated and committed to your goal. It will allow you to track your progress and make adjustments that will keep you moving toward that very important goal.

Always remember to start with a strong “why.” Make sure your end goal is something that’s aligned with your values and who you are. A lot of people procrastinate or fail to achieve their goals because they don’t have a strong reason to achieve them.

Your action plan will help you achieve those goals and when you’re done, you’ll feel extremely proud.

More Tips on How to Create an Action Plan

Featured photo credit: ConvertKit via unsplash.com

More by this author

Charles Amemiya

Speaker, life/business coach, social responsibility advocate and technical writer.

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Last Updated on January 21, 2021

30 Goals To Set For Yourself Before Turning Into 40s

30 Goals To Set For Yourself Before Turning Into 40s

Some people believe that once they’ve passed the age of 30, they’re too old to do something new and exciting; that it’s time for them to settle down.

If you have found your dream job, and are clear about your purpose of life, then go ahead and live your best life! However, it’s never too late to dream a new dream and set some new goals.

The vast majority of the people focus on their careers and how much they need to earn, but there are certain things you should do to create unforgettable memories and make yourself proud of what you managed to accomplish.

Whereas there are countless ideas which vary on your attitude and lifestyle, the following list is full of things anyone should try.

1. Visit a new continent.

New continent means a whole new experience, different culture and tons of interesting people to meet. Everyone should visit another continent at least once in a lifetime, it’s a priceless experience.

2. Travel to at least 20 countries.

Each new country you visit is an original life lesson and unique memories. The more countries you travel to, the better you can compare them and draw conclusions from people’s behavior, culture, and rituals. By spending time in different environments, we can learn a lot about ourselves.

3. Make at least one friend in every country you visit.

Traveling somewhere without making a new friend there is a huge loss. By interacting with local people, you may have a chance to learn about the secret facts of that very location and explore some mysterious places. What’s more, creating a bond with the locals creates an opportunity to revisit the country cheaper by being hosted by the people you’ve met.

4. Take a spontaneous trip.

Without planning every single detail, pack all the necessary stuff and set off into the unknown. You don’t even have to leave your country, the key is to make it impromptu, face what life throws at you and see how you can deal with that. Once the trip is over, you’ll learn some incredible lessons that you wouldn’t have by booking an all-inclusive vacation.

Catching a last-minute flight to a random destination might be a starting point for a serious adventure.

5. Learn a new language.

Do you know what’s the Bill Gates’ most regretted thing is? It’s not learning a second language. During your travel, it’s a great opportunity to practice your language skills with locals. While you are at home, you can learn the basics using books, attending a course or through online programs. And then, once you have a chance to speak with native speakers, this will be the moment when you learn the most. During just a few months of attending a German high school, I learned far more than spending two years of practice with books (though it was a good preparation).

6. Go Bungee Jumping.

This idea may seem crazy to you, but it’s just a warm up comparing to the next one. Bungee jumping is an insane way to face your fears and do something against common sense. As for me, it’s a valuable lesson which emphasizes the fact that even the scariest things turn out to be tolerable once you go through them.

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7. Skydive.

As I promised, this one is hardcore. Experience the unstoppable power of gravitation and see the world from a different perspective. Though I didn’t skydive yet, doing it at least once is definitely on my bucket list.

8. Face your worst fear.

Whatever you fear, most probably it’s a mental issue and not a real danger. There’re countless phobias people suffer from. I don’t know what’s yours, but I dare you to test your limits and see how far you can go.

9. Stand on top of a mountain.

And get there going on a foot. The view from the top is invaluable and unique. You literally feel the power of nature and see how small we actually are comparing to the natural forces.

10. Boost your financial stability.

Before you turning into 40, becoming financially independent is almost mandatory. To avoid getting lost in debt and make the money work for you and not vice versa, you should devote some time to learning finances. This 14-day plan is a great way to start.

11. Create your personal emergency fund.

Saving money regularly is a life-saving habit once you are in financial troubles. Most experts suggest your emergency fund should allow yourself to cover at least 3 months of living expenses. While you are busy making your dreams come true and doing crazy things, be aware that accidents do happen, so having a financial security is definitely helpful while you’ll be figuring out the alternative plan to solve your problems.

12. Create an online business on the side.

Nowadays, there are endless ways to make some extra money online. A legit method almost anyone can try out is monetizing your skills through creating an online course or ebook. It’s a great way to cover additional expenses and learn a bit of entrepreneurship from real life experience. Maybe you’ll even be able to leave your 9–5 and create your dream lifestyle making money from any place in the world like digital nomads do.

To learn more, check out these 24 easy ways to make money on the internet.

13. Develop a habit of daily exercising.

The older you are, the more likely you are to lead a sedentary lifestyle which is a horrible tendency. To avoid it, focus on creating healthy habits. There’s no excuse for not finding at least 20 minutes a day to train. You can try out bodyweight workouts or go for a quick run.

Your body will be incredibly grateful and serve you well for longer.

Although he has one of the most exacting jobs you can imagine, Barrack Obama works out for 45-minute every day. It’s a habit everyone should borrow.

14. Start eating healthy.

Diet-related problems are a huge concern in today’s world. More than one-third U.S. adults are obese. Mostly, because of unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Taking care of your eating patterns is mandatory if you keep your health. The more you put it off, there more likely you are to never get started.

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In a nutshell, choose unprocessed, whole products and avoid junk food with huge amounts of sugar, salt, and fat.

15. Get in the best shape of your life.

There are some living miracles like C.T. Fletcher who achieved the best shape during his 50s. However, now is always the perfect moment to do that. Educate yourself about nutrition, maybe invest in a personal coach and commit to fully transform your body. There are countless 1-year transformations on Youtube which serve as a great source of inspiration.

Once you are in your life’s best shape, go on a photo session so you can proudly show your grandchildren how shredded you once were.

16. Become a disciplined person.

Self-discipline is an enormously useful skill when it comes to making your dreams become a reality. Without discipline, you can’t stick to your commitments and work toward your goals. Becoming a person with rules will have a positive impact on your future self.

The fact is, you can either control yourself or let yourself control you. If you dream of a meaningful life, you’ll definitely aim for the first option.

This free self-discipline book is a good resource to begin with.

17. Become a morning person.

The majority of the most successful people swear by the power of being an early riser. Whether it’s CEOs, world’s best athletes or other outstanding individuals, most of them have a morning routine which highly contributes to their success.

Morning ritual empowers your day and gives you an advantage over the rest of the world which still sleeps while you work to become a better self.

18. Read at leat 100 books.

Whatever your problem is, there is at least one decent book offering a solution. Books hide incredible value and knowledge. The sad fact is, however, more and more people prefer TV shows or video games.

Once I became a regular reader, I realized how much you miss out if you refuse to read. The impact books have made (and still make) on my life is gigantic.

Start to finish reading at least one book a month, and you will have completed 12 book a year!

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If you don’t know which books to choose, check out this post.

19. Write a book.

81% of the population feels they could write a book, but only the minority takes action and starts writing. The truth is, once you begin to write, you are a writer. Finishing a book is challenging but the sense of satisfaction afterward is definitely worth it.

Pick a topic and devote 30 minutes a day to writing. In a year or even sooner, you’ll not only drastically improve your language skills but also finish your first book.

Nowadays, when self-publishing becomes more and more popular, you can release your work avoiding the middlemen and maybe even discover that your calling turns out to be a writer. You don’t know until you try…

20. Write a letter to your future self.

Make sure to include your dreams, expectations and plans. Decide how much time needs to go by until you open your letter. Once you do it, it will be the moment of truth and a chance to see whether you became who you wanted to be.

If you prefer modern technology, you can write an email to your future self using free services like futureme.org.

21. Go offline for a whole month.

Imagine no Facebook, Internet, Reddit or Lifehack for the whole month. This 30-day challenge tests your ability to entertain yourself in the world ruled by technology, avoiding the Internet and computers completely. To make it even more spicy, cut off the television.

It’s a great opportunity to spend more time with your friends and family, focus on your passions and read more books.

22. Take a picture every day for a whole year.

I doubt there are many mementos better than this. Once the year is over, you create a time-lapse which shows portrait by portrait how you changed during the 365 days.

Watching it 20 years later will probably make you cry.

23. Make a list of things that truly make you happy.

And make sure to do these activities as often as possible. You can have all the money in the world and a career that society considers the most successful, yet you can feel miserable. It’s because the real happiness comes from experiences, self-realization, and contribution. While you discover the world checking off the things from this list, try to find out which environment makes you the happiest person in the world.

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Whenever you face a hard moment, take out your happiness-list and start doing one of the things from it. As a result, the bad emotion fades away much quicker.

24. Complete the integrity challenge.

Integrity challenge is an idea from I borrowed from Joel Runyon. Oftentimes our actions don’t represent our thoughts and commitments. This weird phenomenon is most visible when a new year begins and most of the people fail to stick to their resolutions. The way it works is simple. Choose one thing, ideally an uncomfortable task like daily jogging for 30 minutes, determine the timeframe (e.g. 90 days) and then just do your thing every single day without failing even once until you arrive at the finish line.

This test points out your weaknesses and questions your willpower. However, once you accomplish it successfully, it gives you a huge motivation boost to pursue more complex goals which every 20-something should aim at.

25. Help a homeless person to get back to a normal life.

Our life isn’t only about ourselves but also about the people around us. There are many folks who really need help but are ignored by the majority of the society. Imagine supporting a homeless person with the goal in mind to make them a self-sufficient member of the community again.

If you feel miserable, be aware that giving back is one of the fastest methods to make yourself incredibly happy.

26. Donate to a local foundation.

The amount of your donation doesn’t matter, the fact of doing it does. Imagine if everyone (who’s financially independent) donated a dollar a month to a foundation of choice. It seems small but once you add up all the donations, the sum can make a huge difference in other people’s lives.

27. Stop looking for other people’s approval.

This is an especially useful yet rare skill. We definitely care way too much about how others perceive us which in result lowers your self-esteem and confidence as well as makes you overthink the simple choices. Abandoning the validation completely is tough, but it’s worth working toward it.

Once you accept the inevitable disapproval, you can become your true and authentic self. To get started, have a look at this post.

28. Learn to say no.

Saying no at the right moment is a habit which guarantees you a better life. However, the tendency in most people is quite the opposite. They say yes way too much and end up with unnecessary commitments and responsibilities which don’t add any value to their lives.

Now is when you should finally grasp that. There are plenty of things you don’t need to say yes to all the time.

29. Make a DIY furniture.

Do it yourself” movement grows in popularity and some of the ideas people come up with are seriously unbelievable. Creating your own piece of furniture boosts your creativity, tests your manual skills and saves you money. The satisfaction after putting your favorite books on a hand-made shelf beats every commercial furniture.

30. Spend a night under the stars.

As for me, watching the sky in the night is the best way to get the existential buzz. It’s a beautiful scenario to contemplate about your life, plans, and the future. Pitch a tent in the nature, make a bonfire, invite your loved ones and fire your imagination with the stars.

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

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