Specific Action Plans
This is the eleventh segment of Suggestions from a Searcher.
IV. Plan Steps Toward Goals — Need for Specific Action Plans
A. Translate Goals into an Action Plan for Each Project
Stephen Covey, who wrote Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, advises people to not stop at writing goals but to also have a specific action plan for each goal. I think of action plans as the steps toward reaching the goal. The action plan is thus composed of a number of “sub-goals.”
Some goals do not require a detailed action plan. If it is my goal to form the habit of flossing my teeth every day, my action plan might be as simple as having a checklist to keep track of how I am doing toward that goal. If my goal is to get my Christmas shopping done by December 20th, I could just make my gift list and then schedule time on my calendar to do the shopping.
Other goals are much more complicated. If your goal is to get into a certain college, you need to check out the requirements for admission early enough to take the necessary courses and get involved in the kind of extra-curricular activities that you want on your application. Knowing what is an acceptable S.A.T. score for that college might prod you to take practice tests and develop your test-taking skills. You need to know what is the financial cost and plan how to get enough money. When I am getting ready for a trial, I can’t wait until the night before to get ready. There are many steps and deadlines along the way.
Goals are the targeted end-result; action plans are the details for the steps to reach that particular end-result.
People in business who are doing projects usually have a detailed plan for the various things that must be done as part of the project. They often know what each step entails before they start any step. For example, builders use blueprint drawings. The finished house is the goal but they need more than a drawing of the finished house; they need drawings of each part: foundation, electrical, heating system, etc. They don’t only have the end vision and build as they go toward it. They plan stages of construction.
Action plans vary according to the goal. You have to be creative and you also have to be detail-oriented. How much of each depends on the particular goal.
For practice, make a step-by-step action plan for at least one of your goals.