Published: Aug. 7, 2020 By

The acronym SMART stands for goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented/Achievable, Relevant/Realistic, and Time-Oriented. The acronym has served many students and professionals well to help further define broad goals into more specific, actionable goals. However, goal-setting is just one small step in a larger framework of creating a well-designed action plan. 

Well-designed action plans help you break your goal into small, achievable steps; recognize the time and resources needed to achieve each of those steps; and know the deadlines in which you should achieve those mini-goals.

Well-designed action plans also help you look ahead to identify any possible barriers that will keep you from meeting your goals and identify resources and support networks to help you achieve your goals.

When you design your action plans, it can be helpful to visualize your success and possibly even more helpful to visualize achieving each step-by-step. Ask yourself, “How will I feel after I do this next, one small step in my action plan?”

Overview of Well-Designed Action Plans

  • Include small, achievable steps that are positively reinforced by positive self-talk or other motivators
  • Look ahead to what problems and challenges may come up in the plan and create additional plans to address those
  • Celebrate your successes

Ask Yourself

  • What goal do I want to achieve?
  • What is the first, second, and third small steps I can take to accomplish my goal?
  • What will I do when I fail to meet an action step? (Everyone falters in their plans—how will you bounce back?)
  • How does this plan relate to my values, goals, and strengths?
  • Who do I want to be and how are my action steps helping me become that?

Now, get started! Write down, type, or log on an app a well-designed action plan to meet one of your goals!

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