4 Steps for Creating an Action Plan

Have you ever gotten into the car with a destination in mind only to realize you have no idea how to get there?  Or perhaps you have experienced the joy of purchasing furniture at IKEA and then moved into the frustration of 10,001 steps towards assembly.  I remember realizing I wanted to ask Cami to marry me…but I had no idea how to go about asking!  We have all at some point experienced the reality of having an end goal in mind but no idea how to reach it.

Unfortunately that is the story for far too many people – they are filled with passion and desire but no plan of action.  The ability to create an action plan is essential when it comes to reaching any goal you might have in life.  Action steps create a clear plan that provides guidance; they serve as a map that helps us reach tangible goals.

There are 4 basic steps when creating an action plan:

Step 1: Define the Goal (the win) – This is the most important step in an action plan. Author @GregoryMcKeown put it well in his book Essentialism, “concrete objectives have the power to elevate and inspire…”  Many people and teams expend energy getting nowhere because they have not decided where to go.  Think of using a GPS in your car; the very first step is to enter the destination. The same thing is true when setting a goal for yourself or your team. You know you have created a goal when you can answer “yes” to these 3 questions

  • Is it Tangible?
  • Is it Attainable?
  • Is it Measurable?

Step 2: Clarify the Starting Point – Go back to the GPS analogy; after entering your destination what does the GPS do?  It seeks to identify your current location.  You wont know if you are heading north, east, south or west until you know where you are in relation to your destination.  You and your team have to clarify where you are starting from in terms of resources, competencies and time before you jump into action.

Step 3: Identify Mile-Markers – When driving towards a destination it is wise to periodically check the GPS and the road mile-markers.  Why?  Because you want to ensure you are staying on course and heading in the right direction.  The next step in your action plan is to identify mile-markers along the way that will help indicate you (or your team) is still moving towards the right objective.

Step 4: Celebrate/Re-evaluate – At some point you either reach your destination…or you do not.  If you reach your defined goal it is time to celebrate; you set out to accomplish something and you were successful.  That deserves some celebration.  If you find that you fell short of your goal that does not mean you give up; falling short of your goal means you re-evaluate and get back on the road!  Figure out what needs to change to ensure you reach the goal next time, and then start moving in that direction!

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