An action plan is very important to getting things done. I know they know that they have to take action to get things done, but many times it seems like people forget. Creating an action plan is usually in the forefront of my mind, so it is something I put a lot of effort in. I might need to spend more time on adding details to the vision, but I think the action plan is very important.
What is an Action Plan
An action plan is planning how you will go from where you are now, to your vision. It is the steps you take to make your dreams a reality. These are only actionable items.
Steps in Creating the Plan
Write out your vision. Write out all the details possible. Pretend you are explaining your vision to someone else. This is a very important step. Define what success means. What is the point where you are done? Not that you have to stop there, but you would be happy if you accomplished your goal. Make it measurable; without that you cannot see where you are at in accomplishing your goal. Figure out what resources you have at your disposal when your goal is accomplished. They might be huge resources, that is ok. If you need a plane, write a plane.
Write down where you are now. Be honest and say how your current state is different from your vision. The action plan is a map. As such, you need a clear destination, and have to know where the starting point is. Determine what resources you have at your disposal now. These include all your physical resources, mental resources, and human resources.
Work on the In-Between
This is the most challenging for some people. I find it the most fun. This is the problem solving step. Chances are you can not just jump directly to you vision. Accomplishing things is really about using the resources at your disposal. Realize that I am using the word “resource” in the broadest sense of the word. It is anything that you can use to accomplish your goal. Here is how I fill in the between, and figure out my action plan.
- Work Backward – What resources would you need to accomplish your vision now? What would you need to be able to easily accomplish your goal? How would you accomplish your goal with those resources? How would you go about attaining those resources? Determine the resources you would need to accomplish the goal of acquiring those resources. It sounds like circular logic, I know. The point is to determine smaller and smaller resources needed at each step, until you eventually get down to the resources you have now.
- Work Forward – What can you do now that puts you in a better position to accomplish your goal now? What can you do to get resources that will put you in a better position to accomplish your goal later? Continue to acquire resources that put you in a better position, until you have the resources needed to accomplish your goal.
I use both these methods at once, until they meet somewhere in the middle. After I have all the actions listed out in order, I have my action plan. The point is to take something that is huge, and break it up into smaller, easy to accomplish tasks. You should be able to take a point in the action plan, imagine you have accomplished everything before in the plan, and it be plausible for you to accomplish the next step. If in any point in the plan, it seems that you will be unlikely to accomplish the next step, you need to add more steps in between.
These are steps, as such they should be like real steps. You can get to the top of the Empire State Building, but each step is less than a foot tall. If you came upon a step that was twelve feet tall, you would never make it to the top. It might be a daunting task, but it is easy to see that the stairwell will get you to the top of the building if you follow it. Your action plan should be the same way.
That is not to say that God might not place an elevator for you to jump on along the way.