The 6-Step Framework for Successful Change: Step 3 Strategize an Action Plan

by | Feb 2, 2024 | Change Psychology, Goal Setting

Crafting a strategic action plan is the cornerstone of achieving your fitness goals. When taking a road trip, we never just get in the car and hit the road. We put thoughtful planning into planning the vehicle we take, the routes we drive on, how we equip or vehicle, and where we take our rest stops.

Apply this level of thoughtfulness to your fitness journey, and you will be able to achieve any goal you choose! Let’s dive into how to strategize an effective action plan that aligns with your goals, lifestyle, and aspirations.

Review the Outcome Goal and Associated Behaviors

The first step in strategizing your action plan is to clarify your outcome goal. If this looks familiar, that’s because it is. If you follow my content, or already work with me, you know how much I emphasize the importance of knowing where you want to go. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals to define what that looks like in tangible terms. That’s the difference between “I want to improve my running” and “I want to run 5K in under 30 minutes in the next 6 months”. Once your outcome goal is crystal clear, identify the behaviors that, if done consistently, will lead you to your goal. Consistent behaviors could include regular strength training, maintaining a balanced diet, or ensuring adequate recovery and sleep.

Identify Skills Needed to Achieve the Goal

Achieving your fitness goals requires more than just willpower; it requires a set of skills that enable you to execute the necessary behaviors consistently. For instance, if your goal involves running a 5K, skills can include building endurance, improving running technique, and managing nutrition.

Break Down Skills into a Series of Practices

Once you’ve identified the skills needed to achieve your goal, break these skills down into a series of practices. Practices are regular activities that develop the skills over time. For example, if one of the skills is building endurance, a practice could be incorporating interval training into your workouts twice a week. For improving nutrition, a practice could be meal planning and prepping at the start of each week. For these practices to be effective they should be specific and integrated into your daily or weekly routine.

Translate Practices into Daily Actions

The most crucial step is to break down these practices into very small, daily actions. The key here is to make these actions so achievable that they seamlessly integrate into your daily life, reducing the friction to complete them. If a practice is to meal prep for the week, a daily action could be dedicating 10 minutes each morning to planning your meals for the day. If a practice involves interval training, a daily action could be setting out your workout clothes the night before to ensure you’re ready to go.

Outcome Goals and Measuring Success

As you strategize your action plan, it’s important to envision the specific changes these new behaviors will bring to your life. Consider how achieving your goal will affect your performance, thoughts, feelings, actions, and overall circumstances. What does success look like to you? Is it feeling more energetic and confident, noticing improvements in your health markers, or seeing a transformation in your physical performance?

To gauge your progress, establish clear indicators of success. These could be performance-based (like hitting a new personal best), health-oriented (such as improved blood pressure readings), or based on qualitative measures (like how you feel mentally and emotionally). Knowing your endpoint not only keeps you focused but also allows you to adjust your plan as you progress, ensuring your actions remain aligned with your ultimate goal.

Your Strategic Journey

Remember, the essence of strategizing an action plan is about creating a personalized roadmap that guides you from where you are now to where you want to be. It’s a dynamic process that requires reflection, adjustment, and persistence. By meticulously planning your journey, breaking down the skills into actionable steps, and keeping your eyes on the outcome, you set yourself up for a journey of transformation that is both rewarding and sustainable. This strategic approach is not just about reaching your fitness goals; it’s about evolving into the person you aspire to be, equipped with the habits, skills, and mindset to maintain these changes for life.