Success & Goal Achievement

How to Write an Action Plan in 5 Steps

If you want to achieve life-changing goals, write an action plan with these 5 steps.

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If you want to achieve a life-changing goal, you need to know how to write an action plan. 

It doesn’t matter how motivated or dedicated you are to your dreams – without a clear roadmap outlining the steps you need to take to reach your goal, you’ll never know where you’re going or what you have to do to make it a reality.  

The good news is, by following 5 simple steps you can create an actionable plan that will point you in the direction of your dreams and help you clarify your journey with every step you take. 

Keep reading to learn more – and discover a Plan of Action template and some helpful action plan examples that will make setting long-term goals and creating an action plan for goals in every area of your life a whole lot easier! 

Let’s start with a key question: 

The Success Principles: 12-Month Success Planner. 

Transform Yourself For Success Today.

What is an Action Plan?

Simply put, an action plan is a list of all the tasks required to achieve a goal written in sequential order. 

Action planning can help you achieve your short-term goals as well as your longer-term, lifetime goals. Action plans are useful because they break down big goals into small, achievable steps and give you a specific timeframe to accomplish those tasks. This helps you prioritize and ensure you stay on track as you work to achieve them.  

Purpose of an Action Plan

Knowing how to write an action plan gives you a road map you can refer to every day to ensure that you’re moving closer to your goals. 

When you’re busy with your day-to-day, it can be all too easy to get stuck or veer off track.  The purpose of an action plan is to identify a clear path forward and help you stay organized and focused on your top properties. 

Action plans are powerful tools for your individual professional development but equally valuable for organizations and businesses. By creating a group action plan that identifies the organizational goals and the responsibilities of each team member, you foster greater group understanding and cohesion.

Creating an action plan for goals also ensures you don’t overlook critical steps and are able to complete each milestone in a timely manner so you can harness the power of consistent action and maintain your momentum as you work toward your ultimate endgame. 

Why You Need One

Action planning helps you track your progress so you can understand how far you’ve come and how long each step is taking. 

It will help you adapt your schedule and prioritize your tasks accordingly. This will boost your productivity and help you prepare for any obstacles that may appear on your path. 

5 Steps to Write an Action Plan

Learning how to write an action plan – whether for yourself or for your team or organization – doesn’t have to be complicated. 

Here’s how to create an effective and actionable plan in five simple steps: 

1. Set Your Goals

Having a detailed vision of your goal and knowing what you must do to achieve it is the key to moving from where you are now to where you want to be. 

However, not all goals are equal. Use S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting criteria to make sure your goal is Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound to guarantee that it is actually achievable and will help you move toward your dreams. 

2. Create Each Actionable Step

Brainstorm everything you must do to make your vision a reality. Chunk down the more significant steps into smaller, more achievable tasks. Then list those goals in sequential order with specific deadlines to keep you on track. 

In the beginning, you may not know all of the action planning steps you’ll need to take to reach your goal. That’s okay! Your journey will get clearer with every step you take along the path. 

3. Designate Wherever Necessary

Delegate the tasks that aren’t your area of expertise to people who specialize in those areas so that you can focus on your core genius. 

This will help you get better results faster and eliminate a lot of the frustration and obstacles that may otherwise hold you back.  

4. Visualize Your Action Plan

Visualization tools make it easy for you and your team to keep your goals top of mind and stay focused on achieving them. 

These tools include actual visuals, such as flowcharts, tables, and images that bring your action plan to life, as well as a daily visualization practice that encourages you to “see” your goals as already achieved. 

The more clearly you are able to see your desired experience in your mind’s eye, the easier it will be for you to make your vision a reality

5. Review & Improve

Review your action plan on a weekly basis and update it with any new and relevant information to make sure it accurately reflects what you want to achieve – and by when. 

Also, be sure to ask for feedback from people who can tell you how you’re doing and what steps you can take to improve your performance and results. 

Use a Plan of Action Template

Customize the following action plan example to make it work for you.  

1. CLARIFY YOUR GOAL

My goal is: 

(Be sure to make it SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and TIME-BOUND.)

2. IDENTIFY YOUR ACTION PLAN STEPS

Step 1: What/By When/By Whom

Step 2: What/By When/By Whom

Step 3: What/By When/By Whom

Step 4: What/By When/By Whom

Step 5: What/By When/By Whom

Etc. etc. 

Required resources: 

Possible obstacles: 

How to eliminate or minimize those obstacles: 

3. IDENTIFY YOUR KEY EVIDENCE FOR SUCCESS

What specific metrics will you measure to determine your progress and understand whether you’re on target with your goals?

4. TRACK AND EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS

Identify the steps you will take to track and evaluate your progress toward the goals. 

Action Plan Examples to Follow

Here are a couple of action plan examples to show you how it works: 

Example 1: 


My SMART goal is:

To lose 50 lbs by December 31st and keep that weight off for one full year. 

MY ACTION PLAN STEPS

Step 1: Choose a fitness app to track activity and food intake – by Feb 15th

Step 2: Buy new running shoes – by Feb 18th

Step 3: Sign up for Zumba class – by Feb 20th

Step 4: Meet with a nutritionist – by Feb 22nd

Step 5: Find an accountability partner – by Feb 25th

Step 8: Walk 8,000 steps every day for 30 days – by March 20

Step 9: Do 20 minutes of yoga 3x a week for 30 days – by March 20

Step 10: Start a 6-week coach to 5K running program – by March 22

Required resources: 

$$ for fitness app

$$ for new shoes

More time for cooking healthy food

30-60 minutes/day for exercise or yoga

6-week couch to 5K running app

Possible obstacles: 

It might be hard to find 30-60 minutes every day to be active. 

I may run out of healthy eating ideas.

Bad weather might make me not want to exercise. 

How to eliminate or minimize those obstacles: 

Ask Dave to drive kids to & from school. 

Ask 5 friends to share their favorite healthy recipe websites.
Buy better rain gear. 

3. IDENTIFY YOUR KEY EVIDENCE FOR SUCCESS

I will track my steps and exercise minutes. 

I will track my meals and the calories/type of food I consume. 

I will weigh myself once a week. 


4. TRACK AND EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS

I will review my healthy living plan every Sunday to monitor my progress and results and make any necessary tweaks to stay on track toward my goals. I will remind myself to do this by setting an alert on my phone for Sundays at 9 am.

Example 2: 

My SMART goal is:
To have 50 people registered in my program by September 1. 

MY ACTION PLAN STEPS

Step 1: Create a 3-month marketing plan – me – May 1

Step 2: Update landing page – copywriter + web design – May 15

Step 3: Write marketing emails – copywriter – May 22

Step 4: Create social media content – VA – May 27

Step 5: Create affiliate materials – VA – May 27

Step 6: Launch paid advertising campaign – VA + me – June 1

Step 7: Send affiliate materials to promo partners – VA – June 1

Step 8: Launch free masterclass promotion – VA + me – July 1

Step 9: Run free masterclass – me – August 1

Step 10: Last-chance email marketing campaign – VA + me – Aug 2-Sept 1

Required resources: 

Copywriter

Web designer

VA 

$1,000/mo paid ads budget  

Possible obstacles: 

The copywriter might not be available

A major affiliate might back out 

Paid ad campaign might flop 

How to eliminate or minimize those obstacles: 

Get 3 reliable copywriter recommendations 

Approach 5 people to be affiliated 
Create 3 different ad campaigns – test to see which works best 

3. IDENTIFY YOUR KEY EVIDENCE FOR SUCCESS

SM paid ads grow email list by 1,000+ 

Masterclass promos grow list by 1,000 

Marketing emails get 50% open rate, 20% CTR

 
4. TRACK AND EVALUATE YOUR PROGRESS

I will review my marketing efforts and results every week to ensure content development remains on track and copy is generating the desired response. Will adapt & evolve future marketing materials as necessary.  

Create Your Action Plan Today

Knowing how to write an action plan is the key to achieving any big goal. 

This is just as true for business owners and entrepreneurs as it is for coaches and trainers who want to attract more clients and help the people they work with achieve their own ambitious goals. 

If you’re ready to put the power of action planning and setting long-term goals to work in your life, check out my free 12-Month Success Planner. 

It gives you some valuable planning tools that can help you achieve your goals and make a huge leap to create the life you’ve always wanted. 

Transform your life beyond your wildest dreams with 

The Success Principles: 12-Month Success Planner.

Meet Jack Canfield

For over 40 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, and people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.

As the beloved originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul(r) series, he's taught millions of individuals his modernized formulas for success, and has trained and certified over 2,700 students to teach his content and methodology in 107 countries around the world.

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