Action Plan Template

Author: Catherine Pulsifer, ©2017

An action plan template is more than a useful tool. The usefulness of your action plan outline must first be designed to encourage forward movement firmly rooted in completing each step before advancing any further.

Misconception In Action Planning

There seems to be a misconception about putting accomplishment before action. To some very unfortunate thinking people, the belief that one can accomplish anything of value without taking significant action is their downfall.

Thinking Is Not Action

For some, action towards the accomplishment of a goal, or anything for that matter, means that they start to think about it. And, while thinking is a key component towards moving forward with whatever it is you want, it is by far the least likely to get you anywhere at all. The act of thinking without putting one's thinking down on paper in terms of an action plan template or a strategic plan or an outline of action steps is not better than dreaming. The act of dreaming simply means that there is a vision of something new or different that you want to have or think you should have.

Before Action Comes Planning

It is hard to take action that is meaningful unless you first write down what each action will accomplish and a time line attached to each action. Otherwise, you are just like a person setting sail across the lake without a rudder or a sail.

And, others believe that action means that they take one step and only one step to changing, moving, or acquiring whatever they need or want, and, then they stop. They stop for a number of reasons that we will talk about in other articles, but, for now, let's just say that this one action seems to be all they think is necessary. And, this one action is no more than comparing taking one action towards learning any new skill then stopping. You obviously know that it takes a lot more than one action to learn a different skill.

Outline Of An Action Plan Template

The first order of business is to know what the essential components of an action template look like.

Here are the main points or headings to include:
1) Objective (of taking the action)
2) Action (clear statement of what action or actions are required)
3) Resources (required specific needs/resources in order to carry out action)
4) Target date (for completion of the action step)
5) Responsibility (name, and/or team member name)
6) Status (completed; on-going; delayed)

Every Action Does Not Have The Same Value

Then, there are those who believe that any action counts and is significant towards the end goal or accomplishment. Well, unfortunately, any action won't cut it. The action needs to be directed specifically towards a specific end or task, and each action that follows must compliment the preceding. These actions, therefore, accumulate to keep you moving forward, not sideways, or backwards, or something of little vale - but moving forward.

Every person unfolding a plan of action can take action but one has to evaluate the merit of spending time and energy in doing so. An action is only meaningful when it helps to advance a plan.

For example, if you are in the process of working a plan to establish a hot dog vending business, you are wasting your time to scout for a suitable property unless you have first secured the funding for your equipment. You can, in essence, spend hours and hours looking at Internet properties or driving to potential sites but if you haven't got any money to buy your equipment, scouting for properties won't move the yardsticks one little bit.

Efficient And Effective Use Of Time

Let's look at action from a different point of view related to the aforementioned statements in the preceding paragraph. There are countless people who use their time effectively, that is, they do not waste time socializing while at work, or use every minute of spare time at home to advance their action plan but fail to use their time efficiently. So, what is the difference?

Effective use of time pertains to the notion that busyness means productivity. We often see this dimension in work place environments. Let me give you an example. If you come into your work space each morning and spend the first hour going through your email, you are spending your time effectively. That is to say you are using up time to perform a task but the question is whether the time your spend on going through your emails is accomplishing or dedicated to something whether that is a task or an assignment that has priority? The obvious answer would be no you haven't.

On the other hand, if you arrive at your work place and immediately start to work on a priority assignment or task, then you are using your time effectively. Do you see the difference?

Final Success Does Not Always Automatically Flow From Actions Taken

For those of you who have taken action over and over again, have written a goal plan, have written and followed specific targets and timeframes, and have yet to succeed, I have these words of wisdom.

There are many, many examples of people who have strived to succeed over and over again but always seemed to hit the proverbial brick wall. Nevertheless, the beauty of a lot of these stories, real people stories, is that they continued to prevail where perseverance prevailed over resistance. They did not give up - they did not fail without learning what didn't work and building upon this knowledge to find, that which did work. Edison and Lincoln are two historical figures that cemented these continuous actions without giving up.

You Need To Decide To Take Action Before Accomplishment

So, action may mean different things to different people. But, the main point to remember is that there are actions that can bring you closer to whatever end goal you have in mind and then there are actions which simply waste time without moving your game plan forward.

Devising An Effective Action Plan To Accomplish What You Want

The first step, then, is to make a detailed list of what it is you want to accomplish. This list, in fact, may only have one item or it may have several items listed depending on what it is you are looking to achieve. Then, the next step is to make a draft plan. The focus at this point is not to try and be too specific. Instead, just generally outline what steps you can think of.

The next step is simply to put your draft action plan away for two days. What are doing during these two days is to let the ideas about your plan swim around in your head without trying to even think about them. In fact, it would be better to engage in another kind of activity that takes your mind off your plan. In this way, you will accomplish what has been labeled as "going to zero" so that your subconscious mind has free will to bring relevant issues or actions to the surface.

The next step is to sit down again with your draft action plan and start to outline specific and detailed actions that you will need to take to get to the final goal. Next, assign specific times to each task or action so that you have an outline of how long it will take you to accomplish your entire plan. Bear in mind, however, that each step will not automatically fall into place because there likely will be issues or obstacles that pop up as you go along.

You should also be aware that there might be certain steps that have to be completed in conjunction with another step so that whe n they are both finished you can move on to the next.

Do Not Forget This Valuable Step

There is nothing so lonely as trying to implement an action plan, especially a complicated one, all on your own. To help overcome any anxiety or stress resulting from the feeling of being overwhelmed or unsure if you can accomplish what you want, now is the time to find or seek out a person or persons who have already accomplished either the same thing or something similar. The reason the importance for this person or persons is that they will provide critical feedback on your plan and/or will also be able to motivate and encourage you as you travel along the path to accomplishment.

Final Words

The choice to take action to accomplish what you want or what you deserve is entirely up to you. No one is going to seek you out and no one is going to do it for you. It's your move.

Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe." Anatole France

"Remember, once you have started your journey towards change, the only things that separate those who succeed and those who do not are perseverance and determination." Ian Tuhovsky

"Be willing to change your ways, not to sacrifice how you do things, but to explore new possibilities." Noelle C. Nelson


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