6 Steps to Crafting Your Personal Action Plan for Change
As we head into the back half of 2021, you’re likely reflecting upon your life and making some personal changes. This type of reflection and the resulting changes often happen organically. Yet after the 16+ months of roller-coaster-like pressures we’ve all been through, I find more and more leaders searching for different approaches to hitting the “reset” button.
Many of the resets I’ve witnessed involve people making changes they already knew they wanted to make. They simply needed a bit of a perspective switch to make them happen. Other changes were inspired by longer-term goals that suddenly became more important.
A 6-Step Process for Making Meaningful Change Happen
1. Identify the categories of your desired changes.
Humans love to categorize things, which is fortunate because it helps us make sense of complex ideas. Identifying the categories associated with your changes will help you organize your thoughts.
Generally, changes fall into four categories:
- “General Life”
2. Reflect on what you want and why.
The second step of the process involves self-reflection by answering the following questions:
- What is it that I want to change?
- Why do I want to effect this change?
- What resources do I need to accomplish the change?
- What is my change goal?
Think through these questions carefully, and then write a few sentences to answer each.
3. Create a rough draft of your personal action plan.
Keep it simple! I recommend using the four questions (and answers) from Step 2 as a framework for structuring your plan. However, expand on them and provide specifics, including:
- Individual action steps
- Interim goals
- Due dates/deadlines (where appropriate)
- Your definition of success
4. Review and refine your plan.
Review your rough draft with an eye toward identifying additional resources that you will need.
For example, if your plan involves eating healthier, consider what you already know about nutrition. Then consider what you don’t know and where gaps in your knowledge exist. Then ask yourself, “How do I fill in these gaps?” This is where outside experts and authorities will be of assistance. After you’ve identified and availed yourself of these resources, return to your plan and fill in the gaps with what you’ve learned.
5. Hold yourself accountable.
When we publicize our intentions to others, we imbue those intentions with additional power as we become more motivated to hold ourselves accountable.
This doesn’t mean that you need to write a blog post or hire a skywriter. It could be as simple as sharing your goals with a friend or spouse and asking them to inquire about your progress at regular intervals. No matter how you choose to publicize your intention and monitor your follow-through, it’s critical to figure out an accountability path that works for you.
6. Give your plan a title and begin executing it.
Finally, title your personal action plan (e.g., “Eat Better, Feel Better” might suit our earlier-mentioned nutrition scenario) and get started.
There’s one other key to succeeding with a change plan: Don’t ever be afraid to adjust your plan. No plan will begin or remain perfect. It will require adjustments and refinements over time.
Need help building your personal action plan, identifying resource needs, or holding yourself accountable? Give me a call!