How to Build an Action Plan to Reach Your Goals
Goals are a part of human life and integral to an athlete’s life. However, aimless desires and working without a solid plan of action can lead to failure and frustration. Goals require practical implementation. Every serious goal requires an action plan to keep you focused, motivated, guided and accountable.
Building an action plan for your goals can easily be broken down into phases:
Phase One: Decide on Your Goals
Find Your Sense of Purpose
Your sense of purpose ties into your core values and your core belief system. It drives you and determines the sets of goals that you will take along the way to fulfill this sense of purpose.
For example, your sense of purpose may be to lead a full, healthy lifestyle to respect the body you have and to keep challenging yourself mentally. You may be doing this because it ties into your spiritual or ethical beliefs. You may be doing it to set a good example for your loved ones and to inspire those around you to do the same. That sense of purpose will drive you emotionally and mentally to keep striving to reach your goals.
Set SMART Goals
You always want to do things the smart way. SMART, in this case, is an acronym for:
SPECIFIC: Avoid vague, ambiguous goals that lead to frustration. Instead, set goals with very specific endpoints. For example, instead of just stating “I want to lose weight,” set a target like “I want to lose 20 pounds of fat.”
MEASURABLE: If your goals are specific, they should be measurable as well. Ensure there is some way of assessing progress. A goal of losing weight is definitely measurable, whether you monitor results using a scale or tape measure.
ATTAINABLE: While ambition is admirable, even bigger goals need to be broken down into smaller, more attainable goals. If losing 20 pounds sounds intimidating, you can always break it up into mini goals, like 4 pounds a month or a pound a week.
RELEVANT: Are your goals relevant to fulfilling your sense of purpose, bigger life goals and to your ultimate happiness? For example, there are many health benefits to losing weight if you need to do so for your health. Be sure you are doing it for yourself and for your overall health longevity and not for unhealthy reasons, like media and social pressure.
TIME: Some goals seem to go on for an indefinite amount of time, which can cause frustration, anxiety or simply make it difficult to focus. This is why we need to break our goals down into smaller goals, which do have a time limit or due date. Example: If your goal was to lose weight, setting a time limit, like six months, to do so can keep you on track and motivated enough not to stray from your plan.
Write Down Your Goals and Share Them
Writing our goals down keeps us focused on the task of achieving them by making them tangible, as opposed to keeping them as vague, elusive concepts in our minds. We are more likely to achieve written goals. Furthermore, sharing our goals with others can improve our chances of reaching them as we feel more pressure and support from others by doing so.
Motivation is a key ingredient to achieving your goals. We need to find any way we can to push ourselves beyond the discomfort of the hard work and sacrifice required.
Phase Two: Deciding What Course of Action To Take
Once you have set your SMART goal, it is time to formulate a tangible plan of action. The technicalities of what you need to do will obviously differ from goal to goal, but the overarching approach to forming a plan will always rely on a few basic steps.
Do Your Research
Explore your options in planning a course of action. Educate yourself by exhausting all resources of information from books to online information and courses. After all, successful people educate themselves and are not afraid to try something new.
Ask For Advice
You do not have to figure it all out alone. Professional advice, in the form of a coach, can guide you through the technicalities of achieving your goal.
Break Your Goal Into a Series of Tangible Tasks
The best long-term goals offer a course of action that you can take on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. Break your goals up into subgoals or shorter-term goals, all leading to the bigger, longer-term goals. This will guide your daily course of action, help you to better manage your time and keep you focused.
As you achieve these smaller goals, your confidence and motivation will gradually increase, driving you forward to achieving the bigger goals.
Phase Three: Sticking To the Plan and Assessing Progress
Drafting the perfect action plan is only a start. What matters more, is whether you can stick to the plan over the long haul.
Commitment will happen if:
1. You are highly motivated and dedicated.
2. Your plan is feasible and takes all logistical concerns into account.
3. Your plan is working for you.
Staying Motivated, Dedicated and Organized
We need to find ways to stay dedicated to our goals, even when we are not feeling highly motivated. Having a concrete day-to-day plan, as well as being organized with calendars, to-do lists and reminders will keep us from straying from our goals.
If our goals are measurable to begin with-- as we advised in phase one above-- we should be able to tell if our plan is working and then adjust accordingly. Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to determine whether your plan or your habits need adjusting:
Have I reached my mini-goal target?
Have I done everything I agreed to do?
Are there other internal/external factors that get in the way that I had not planned for?
What can I do to counter these factors that get in the way?
Are my goals still relevant or do I need to alter them to suit any recent life developments?
Changing Your Action Plan
Do not be discouraged if your first course of action is not working out as planned. You have to go back to “the drawing board” at Phase Two and adjust the approach you have to accommodate any unforeseen issues that may have gotten in the way of progress. Having to adapt and break our old habits is a part of the process.
Phase Four: Post-Mortem and Next Plan
This is it! You have reached the due date of your goal. You may find yourself in one of three positions:
1. You Have Reached Your Goals:
Congratulations! You should be feeling proud and confident. Do not get complacent though; keep pushing yourself to develop further!
2. You Are A Little Late, But Making Progress
Better late than never. Learn from the setbacks so that you know how to avoid them in the future and keep pushing on.
3. You Have Completely Given Upon Your Goals or Have Not Made Any Progress
If you have been doing you mini-assessments along the way, you would have noticed that your plan was not working from its execution. Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t always work out.
Not reaching your goals can be depressing and a huge blow to your confidence, but don’t give up. You have to go right back to the start and come back harder and change your plan to avoid the errors that derailed your progress. Consider asking for more help; it never hurts to have a mentor on your side.
Goal-Setting as A Way of Life
Goal setting is an integral part of living a happy, healthy life. We might as well develop goal setting like any other skill- with patience, practice and persistence. It helps to emerge yourself in the mindset and culture of success and to surround yourself with those who share these values. That is why we at Gloveworx invest as much into developing your mind as much as your body.