How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals (2022)

There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

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.

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.

With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

1. Determine Your “Why”

Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme.

The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

“Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

(Video) How to Create an Effective Action Plan | Brian Tracy

Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

2. Write Down Your Goal

If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

3. Set a SMART Goal

A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals (1)

By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

  • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
  • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress, and identify how you’ll collect the data.
  • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
  • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective and whether it’s worth pursuing.
  • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to SetSMART Goalto Make Lasting Changes in Life

(Video) How to Set Goals & Create an Action Plan! (Step-by-Step Tutorial)

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

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.

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(Video) How to Create An Action Plan & Achieve Your Personal Goals // MindGrit // Dr. Rey B. Fremista

7. Take One Step at a Time

Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

8. Order Your Tasks by Priority

With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

Learn these tips to prioritize better: How toPrioritizeRight in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

9. Schedule Your Tasks

Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame. This will keep you from procrastinating on a given task.

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(Video) How to make an action plan to achieve your goals

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Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set due dates or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

10. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal, even if you have an action plan. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable as you complete your projects.

11. Check off Items as You Go

You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety by showing you completed tasks.

There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

12. Review and Reset as Necessary

Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

The Bottom Line

When you want to learn how to set goals and develop an action plan—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

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(Video) Tips to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via


How do you create a personal goal plan? ›

First consider what you want to achieve, and then commit to it. Set SMART (specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goals that motivate you and write them down to make them feel tangible. Then plan the steps you must take to realize your goal, and cross off each one as you work through them.

What are the 7 steps in making an action plan? ›

The Seven Steps of Action Planning
  1. Define the Problem(s)
  2. Collect and Analyze the Data.
  3. Clarify and Prioritize the Problem(s)
  4. Write a Goal Statement for Each Solution.
  5. Implement Solutions: The Action Plan.
  6. Monitor and Evaluate.
  7. Restart with a New Problem, or Refine the Old Problem.
9 Oct 2012

How do I make an action plan for my life? ›

1: Get in the right mindset
  1. Make yourself important. ...
  2. Accept what you cannot change. ...
  3. Identify what motivates and inspires you. ...
  4. Consider short, medium and long-term goals. ...
  5. Consider all areas of your life. ...
  6. Write your goals. ...
  7. Prioritise. ...
  8. Set your timeline.
5 Jun 2018

What is your action plan to achieve your goal? ›

An action plan is a document that lays out the tasks you need to complete in order to accomplish your goal. It also breaks up the process into actionable assignments based on a timeline.

What is a personal action plan example? ›

Action plan examples:

This week I will walk (what) for 20 minutes (how much) before lunch (when) three days (how many). → This week I will take my medications as prescribed before breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. It's time to take action!

What is an example of an action plan? ›

For example, a city might use an action plan to communicate plans to improve a neighborhood with more green space, facilities, living streets and improved train service. A plan that contains enough detail to achieve an objective or goal.

What is a 5 step action plan? ›

The 5 Step Planning Process is designed to help educators with creating sound, research-based action plans for implementing personalized student-centered learning. Embarking on this work takes leadership, time, patience, courage, collaboration, trust, and some trial and error to get it right.

What is the first step in creating an action plan? ›

The first step in creating an action plan is to clearly decide exactly what you want to achieve at the end of your execution. Therefore, setting the goal is essential to start a good plan. Goals serve as a direction; you plot a place you want to reach or something you want to achieve.

What is a 3 point action plan? ›

Include the three vital elements.

Action plans generally include "what," "who," and "when." They outline the action steps (the "what") your program will take to achieve your goals and objectives, the person(s) responsible (the "who"), and the projected completion dates (the "when").

What is one action that can be done better to achieve goal results? ›

It is possible to attain your realistic goals by following one simple rule: always break your goal down into manageable, achievable action steps. Baby steps that you achieve, however small, will create a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment and will encourage you to keep going.

Why are goals important for a personal action plan? ›

Setting goals helps trigger new behaviors, helps guides your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life. Goals also help align your focus and promote a sense of self-mastery. In the end, you can't manage what you don't measure and you can't improve upon something that you don't properly manage.

What are actionable goals examples? ›

Call them “actionable goals.” For example… I will go to the gym 3 times each week. I will stop eating desserts. I will stop snacking after 9pm at night.

What must a good action plan include? ›

An action plan consists of seven steps: setting objectives, assessing the objectives, identifying action required to meet the objectives, working out how to evaluate the activity, agreeing a time-frame for action, identifying resources (human, financial and technical), finalising the plan, and evaluating the results.

What are the 5 smart goals examples? ›

5. SMART goal example for increasing sales
  • Specific: I will learn new sales techniques to increase sales at work.
  • Measurable: My goal is to double my sales in four months.
  • Attainable: I've been a sales associate for two years now. ...
  • Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills.
5 Aug 2022

How do you plan to achieve your ambition and goals in life? ›

Here are some effective goal-setting tips on how to achieve life goals to the best of your ability.
  1. Have SMART goals. You're not going to achieve your goals if they aren't SMART. ...
  2. Write them down. ...
  3. Make your goals visible. ...
  4. Break it down. ...
  5. Develop a plan. ...
  6. Take action. ...
  7. Keep perspective. ...
  8. Identify potential obstacles.

What are the 5 smart goals? ›

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

What are the 5 areas of personal development? ›

5 areas of personal development
  • Mental.
  • Social.
  • Spiritual.
  • Emotional.
  • Physical.
  • Identify areas where you'd like to improve.
  • Work with a coach or mentor to assemble a plan.
  • Structure your personal development goals.
10 Feb 2022

How can an action plan be successfully implemented? ›

Implementing action plans

To create an action plan, first clarify the outcomes you want to achieve. For each outcome, list the activities necessary to achieve it. Then put the activities in order. Next, assign responsibilities for completing each activity.

What is an action plan and why is it important? ›

Action Plans are simple lists of all of the tasks that you need to finish to meet an objective. They differ from To-Do Lists in that they focus on the achievement of a single goal. Action Plans are useful, because they give you a framework for thinking about how you'll complete a project efficiently.

What are the steps taken by you in progress to achieve your goals? ›

10 Steps to Achieve Goals Faster
  • Do Something You Believe In. The first tip on our list is to try to improve in the area you really believe is important. ...
  • Focus on Important Tasks. ...
  • Be Realistic. ...
  • Write It Down. ...
  • Break It Up. ...
  • Make a Calendar of Activities. ...
  • Tell Your Friends or Family. ...
  • Look for Professional Help.
26 Mar 2019

What learning strategies do you need to develop in order to achieve your goal? ›

  1. Set SMARTER goals. Anyone that's serious about achieving their goals needs to understand the importance of the SMARTER goal-setting method. ...
  2. Create a plan of action. ...
  3. Eliminate bad habits. ...
  4. Instill self-discipline. ...
  5. Mitigate your distractions. ...
  6. Leverage daily goal setting. ...
  7. Avoid procrastination. ...
  8. Manage your time.
21 Nov 2016

What four things are included in an action plan? ›

Steps in action planning include:
  • Select the issue and decide whom to involve;
  • Review evidence of existing performance;
  • Make a self-assessment of strengths and weaknesses;
  • Describe the ideal future state of affairs;
  • State the objectives concisely and recognizably;

When should you create an action plan? ›

When should you create an action plan? Ideally, an action plan should be developed within the first six months to one year of the start of an organization. It is developed after you have determined the vision, mission, objectives, and strategies of your group.

What is the difference between work plan and action plan? ›

Action steps are the specific tasks required to advance and make progress toward a strategic action. The workplan lays out the details of how a team along with partners, if applicable, will begin to implement these actions in the short-term.

What is an action plan in health? ›

A health action plan tells you what you need to do to keep healthy. It tells you what services and support you need to live a healthy life. The plan does this by telling you. • how you can look after yourself if you have. any problems with your health.

What are 3 steps to achieve goals? ›

3 Steps to Achieving Your Goals – and Making Your Vision a...
  1. Step 1: Dream. If you can't picture it, you can't reach it. ...
  2. Step 2: Plan. Now that you have your clear vision, it's time to determine what outcomes or goals you need. ...
  3. Step 3: Act.
13 Oct 2012

What are the 4 steps to reaching a goal? ›

4 Steps to Successfully Achieve Your Goals
  1. Set SMART Goals. Often our goals can be somewhat vague – “make healthier choices,” “save more money,” “take more time for myself” – which makes achieving them somewhat difficult. ...
  2. Automate It. ...
  3. Focus on Habit Change. ...
  4. Reward Yourself Along the Way.
13 Jan 2019

What goals should I set for myself? ›

20 goals to set for yourself
  • Improve your growth mindset.
  • Be more proactive.
  • Learn to understand yourself.
  • Be persistent despite obstacles.
  • Learn to accept your limits.
  • Learn how to make effective decisions.
  • Practice gratitude.
  • Stay open-minded to new opportunities.

What are the 5 smart goals examples? ›

5. SMART goal example for increasing sales
  • Specific: I will learn new sales techniques to increase sales at work.
  • Measurable: My goal is to double my sales in four months.
  • Attainable: I've been a sales associate for two years now. ...
  • Relevant: I want to feel more confident at my job and learn new skills.
5 Aug 2022

What are your personal goals? ›

Personal Life Goals
  • Increase your willpower. ...
  • Get rid of stress and its causes. ...
  • Limit your limitations. ...
  • Keep evaluating your life from time to time. ...
  • Get along with yourself. ...
  • Acquire knowledge. ...
  • Set high standards. ...
  • Strive for financial stability.

What are 3 good smart goals? ›

3 SMART Goal Examples for Your Employees' Success
  • S = Specific. Goals should be defined and articulated with a clear end result in mind.
  • M = Measurable. Every goal should be quantifiable.
  • A = Attainable. Goals should be realistically achievable, split into manageable steps.
  • R = Relevant. ...
  • T = Time-Based.
5 Apr 2018

How do you write a personal goal statement? ›

Follow these instructions to write an effective career goal statement:
  1. Think about your passions. One of the best ways to realize your career goals is by understanding what you're passionate about. ...
  2. Do your research. ...
  3. Ask yourself important questions. ...
  4. Use SMART goals. ...
  5. Develop an action plan. ...
  6. Adjust accordingly.

How do you set your personal goals in 2022? ›

20 work and personal goals to achieve in 2022
  1. Keeping the things organized. ...
  2. Prioritizing the things. ...
  3. Becoming a change agent. ...
  4. Making a timetable or Gantt chart. ...
  5. Creating your own weather instead of living others creation. ...
  6. Becoming proactive instead of reactive. ...
  7. Doing empathic listening.

What are the 8 personal goals? ›

There are 8 IPC Personal Goals:

Resilient = I can try again / I never give up. Collaborator = I can work together / I can take turns / I can share / I help. Communicator =I can listen / I can say/show. Respectful = I am caring / I can agree and disagree / I can look after my things / I can tidy up.

What are the 3 types of goals? ›

There are three types of goals- process, performance, and outcome goals. Process goals are specific actions or 'processes' of performing. For example, aiming to study for 2 hours after dinner every day .

How do you achieve a successful goal example? ›

  1. Decide. Think of something you want to do or work towards. ...
  2. Write it down. Carefully. ...
  3. Tell someone. Telling someone we know about our goals also seems to increase the likelihood that we will stick at them.
  4. Break your goal down. This is especially important for big goals. ...
  5. Plan your first step. ...
  6. Keep going. ...
  7. Celebrate.

What are the 5 smart goals for students? ›

The SMART Goal Setting Method. According to the Corporate Finance Institute, “SMART goals set you up for success by making goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. The SMART method helps push you further, gives you a sense of direction, and helps you organize and reach your goals.”


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