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Your Action Plan

In last month’s article, we discussed your yearly review with questions to ask yourself for a detailed assessment. Hopefully by now you have completed your evaluation with the questions provided. If you have not yet finished or have not begun, then hop over to Your Year in Review and get started. Once you have completed all of the questions concerning your professional, personal, and lifestyle objectives, you can then set your plan into motion. Perhaps you have already considered the actions that should be taken to create new changes in your life, but you may not have begun to develop a concrete plan or have a specific idea about how to organize everything. Below are some ways you can devise an action plan and begin your year with a solid start.


One of the easiest ways to organize your plans is to categorize your goals. You may have already determined which items fall under your professional, personal, and lifestyle sections, but you can always add more categories, or rename them, so they are perfectly tailored to your current needs (i.e., college, or research, or travel plans, or family relationships). Once you have determined your categories and have finished listing your goals under each one, then determine a timeline to accomplish them. The timeline can be general (i.e., February, or spring, or by the end of Quarter 1, or by the end of the year), or it can be very specific (i.e., by March 31st, or by the 2nd week of June). Whatever the timeline will be, make certain it is realistic and that you have really thought about how long it will likely take to get each item accomplished. You definitely want to avoid bunching too many items into your timeline and, for example, only giving yourself one month to complete them, becoming stressed, and quitting. This is not how to do it! Rather, arrange everything with an attainable timeline and spread items out with thoughtful prioritization. Just remember to give yourself grace if something has a six-month timeline and is still incomplete by the deadline. Address the problem immediately, set a new deadline and prioritize completing it. You can always modify your timeline, but do not make a habit of doing this. Otherwise, you’ll produce a messy plan with items getting crammed up and too many goals that won’t get accomplished on time.


Once you have established a timeline for each goal in your calendar, begin to divide them into months, weeks, or days, and allocate what needs to happen every few days or weeks in order to accomplish each goal. Determine the steps that will be needed to complete the goal and assign them to these divisions by creating a deadline for each one. For example, let’s say under the personal category you have a goal to reconnect with a family member you have lost touch with. They live many hours away, but you would like to pay them a visit in five months. In those twenty weeks of time, decide how many times you would like to reach out to them and redevelop a connection before arriving on their doorstep. How many times would you like to text, call, email, mail, or send a special delivery (perhaps sending a surprise gift for a special celebration). Perhaps you will decide to reach out to them each week, a couple of times a week, or once a month. Whatever it is, schedule it into your calendar and set your reminders to send a text, email, etc. Otherwise, life may get so busy that you may have thought you would remember to reach out to them without needing to “schedule it in,” but you discover that six weeks have passed, and you have not reached out at all! You will also need to decide which mode of transportation you will need to arrange for your visit. Once all of these items are decided, you can now work backwards from the visiting date and decide how far in advance you will need to arrange for travel reservations or schedule your car for its regular maintenance before a long road trip. The point here is to develop a systematic plan of steps and deadlines that will lead up to the completion of the goal. If you need to simplify things even more because your plan requires fewer steps, then you could set a weekly alarm reminder on your phone and reach out to your family member at the same time each week. Do what is most efficient and allows you to stay on track, whatever the goal may be.


As you continue to craft your calendar with all the goals you have planned for the year, do so with positive energy, ready to tackle any items that might look like a daunting challenge. It’s also important to take the time to run through a couple of drafts before you land on the action plan you want to utilize. Also, if your calendar begins to look overwhelming, you can also read our previous article, Simplify Your Overwhelming Schedule for more ideas on how to manage your time. Just remember that depending on the size of your goal, you may need to schedule more specific tasks and deadlines. Knowing you have everything planned and have timelines in place to navigate through your calendar, at the end of the year you’ll be able to look back and feel thoroughly satisfied with how much you were able to accomplish.


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