Now it’s time to put all our prep work into an action plan! This is the third and final part of the goal setting series. If you’ve done everything to this point, I think you’ll find this part fairly easy.
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Action Plan Instructions
Here’s what I said in the instructions about creating an action plan:
All this reflection, and even a written list of meaningful goals, won’t actually make anything happen. That’s why we need an action plan.
It’s tempting to sit down on December 26 and map out all our actions for the coming year. When we sit all cozy on the couch, sipping hot chocolate, with goal setting notebook and planner on our laps mapping out the plan for the year, it all seems rather doable, right? We even try to keep it realistic and acheivable. Instead of working on 12 new habits in January, we spread them out, planning to focus on one each month.
Here’s the thing, though – even those realistic plans are still too much. Life happens. Unexpected things come up. True change of those things that are oh so important to us require way more emotional energy and persistence than we ever anticpated. Those bad habits are more deeply engrained than we we ever imagined, and 31 days is not really enough to cause permanent change. It’s just a recipe for failure. By April we’re so behind we have to start all over.
So what should we do?
Let’s Try Something New
I’d like to invite you to a new way of creating an action plan that actually works.
First, go ahead and accept that all those goals you listed out in the last section won’t all be happening this year. In fact, I’d venture to say that a lot of them won’t be accomplished this year. There is no timeline – no need to accomplish them within the year (or any other arbitrary time frame). Time to breathe a big sigh of relief!
It’s far better to permanently change 2 or 3 habits than to engage in a mad flurry of activity trying to change 12 habits this year only to end up on December 31 right back where we started. So go ahead and commit to changing less, but doing it more permanently and more deeply.
Also, choosing which goals to tackle should be a matter of choosing priorities, and that may change from year to year or month to month.
Next, remember that sheet you filled out with your top 3 projects and top 3 habits? Go ahead and add those to the yearly tracker. There are spots to track 3 habits and several one time tasks or projects. However, you DO NOT have to fill it all out. If you want to start with just ONE habit, that’s totally fine. I’ll be starting with 2 habits and one project. As projects get checked off, I can add more. This will be your main focus throughout the year. If only those things happen, it was a success.
Next, each month we’ll reflect on the past month (both successes and failures), and we’ll create a monthly action plan. Please note that the monthly action plans have more space than you probably need. You don’t need to fill it all out. Also, the top daily habits should match what’s on your yearly sheet. Also, feel free to add daily habits that you’re already doing. This will help you build confidence.
This monthly sheet will also give you a FRESH START every single month! Go through your goals and pick out what’s most important to you in the coming month when making your action plan. If there are things on your monthly action plan that don’t get done, that’s okay. Either move them to the next month, take them off the list if they’re no longer important to you, or just shift them down the priority list.