How to Set S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals (Part 4): A is for Action Plan
In yesterday’s blog post, I discussed the necessity of setting Meaningful goals. In today’s post I will show why it important to create an Action plan when setting goals.
A detailed action plan is essential to turning your goal into reality. To accomplish your goal, you will need to take dozens of actions over the course of weeks or even months. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, you will need to plan out what specific foods you will eat. You will need to pack healthy snacks so you won’t be so tempted to eat a donut at work. You will need to decide what type of exercise you will do and how often.
Creating a detailed action plan will prevent you from being overwhelmed by the complexity of the goal. As you create your action plan, break the task down into the smallest steps. As Henry Ford observed, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.” As you record the specific details of your plan in writing, your confidence will increase. You can now see what steps need to be accomplished. You have a clear road map to follow, so you know you won’t get off track.
The more you break your goal down into small doable action steps, the better you will do. This has been confirmed by a study conducted by E.J. Masicampo, Ph.D., at Wake Forest University. Dr. Masicampo found that people who spent time thinking about the goal already being accomplished didn’t do that well. In contrast, those who created a plan with detailed action steps and a timetable were more likely to reach their goal.
An action plan in many cases will include a timeline with a specific deadline.
Someone once said that a goal is a dream with a deadline. Having a deadline for the completion of a goal gives you a sense of urgency. As you approach the finish line your motivation and focus increases, along with your productivity.
Have you created a detailed action plan for the accomplishment of your goal? When specifically will you perform each action step?