10 Steps to Creating an Action Plan and Achieving Your Goals

Here are 10 steps for creating an action plan – because a plan is the best way to get what you want out of life. Are you hoping for a job promotion, more money, or a new house? Create an action plan.

“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.” ~ Babe Ruth.

The first and most important tip for creating an action plan and achieving your goals: Never, ever, ever give up. If you’re at the beginning of the creation of your life plan, read Defining Your Life: Creating a Clear and Personalized Plan for Lifelong Wellness. And, read 5 Ideas for Creating a Better Life – and So She Blossoms.

Here are author and relationship specialist Mark Richard Webb’s ten tips for achieving your goals…

10 Steps to Creating an Action Plan

Before you set your goals, review the mistakes you made in the past.  What obstacles have stopped you from achieving your goals in the past? Knowing that will help you achieve your goals this time.

1. Take action immediately  with SMART goals. Don’t postpone your start date, or you’ll begin procrastination and avoidance. It can be scary to set goals because you risk embarrassment and the possibility of failure.  Courage means “feeling the fear and doing it anyway” — and creating an action plan soothes anxiety and builds confidence.

2. Think through your goals.  What do you want to achieve?  What are reasonable objectives for one month, three months, six months and beyond?  Don’t overdo the first week.  Instead, set a steady and progressive pace.  If you’re out of shape, for example, don’t run three miles the first few days! When you’re setting and achieving your life goals, build up to the desired distance.

3. Spend time visualizing your intentions as accomplished.  Your images build a sense of belief that your goals are attainable.  Visualization and focusing on the feelings that will come when you’ve created an action plan will help you develop faith. which will motivate you to keep going.

4. Find inspiration and motivation to create the right goals for your life.  Establish various methods of getting information and encouragement, such as self-improvement tapes, books, therapy, lectures, online courses, going back to college or sitting in a church pew.  We live in a world that has so many negative influences.  You have to find ways to stay positive and inspired– and feed your mind positive thoughts that will help you achieve your life goals.

To learn more about different types of goals, read Self-Improvement Vs. Performance Goals.

6. Develop habits that support your life goals.  You must be willing to do the things that most people are not willing to do.  You must push beyond your limits.  When you’re setting and achieving your life goals, you must go beyond your comfort zone.

6. Create good habits.  Your habits form the routine that make you get up early or stay up late.  Your habits help you skip that candy bar or miss that unnecessary two hours of television.  Creating an action plan that you can achieve requires consistency and accountability.

7. Make up your mind that you are going to overcome obstacles to your goals.  This is where being hard-headed can be a blessing!  Tap into that side of you that hunkers down when someone says, “You’re not smart enough”  or “You don’t have what it takes.”

If you’re stuck, read 3 Ways to Overcome Obstacles to Your Goals – Quick and Easy!

8. Get excited about your action plan.  You will achieve your goals faster and easier if you’re enthusiastic. Build a passion so strong that no negative influence can discourage you.  When you’re setting and achieving your life goals, stay enthusiastic so even the toughest task is more enjoyable.

9. Remember that success is a process.  Achieving goals rarely happens overnight.  Don’t aim for perfection; instead, strive to just get started.  Then place your focus on sticking with your goals and over time, reach for fame.  Someone once told me, “You won’t like anything you produce, so produce it anyway.”  When you’re working towards your goals, remember that you don’t have to get it right; you just have to get it going!

10. Give your goals your best shot.  Most people start with a bang and soon after, end with a fizzle.  Give your goals everything you have… and you will succeed!  Be willing to put in the time and energy to reach all of your goals.  Allow no room for excuses.  Make a commitment.  Decide in your head and in your heart that you will do whatever it takes.

If you have any thoughts on these tips for creating an action plan, please comment below…

Mark Richard Webb is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice at South Georgia Psychiatric and Counseling Center in Valdosta. 


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27 thoughts on “10 Steps to Creating an Action Plan and Achieving Your Goals”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Ivan,

    If your friends and family don’t believe in your life goals, then you need to surround yourself with people who do! Part of creating an action plan and achieving goals is finding people who will support you.

    I’m not saying you need to dump your friends or family members…but I think it’d be good to start spending time with people who believe in your vision for your life.


  2. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Kevin,

    What you’re describing is totally normal! When adult children move back in with their parents — no matter how old they are — they often get treated like teenagers or toddlers. You won’t be able to change your mother…and as cliched as it sounds, while you’re living under her roof you’ll have to abide by her rules. Sorry about that, my friend.

    I encourage you to take small risks and do things to rebuild your self-esteem, such as joining a hiking group or calling possible employers to learn about job prospects. It doesn’t matter WHAT you do — small risks can do wonders for your self-confidence! I know it’s difficult to conceive of when you feel bad about yourself, but you have to start somewhere.

    You could also talk to a career or employment counselor about your career and life goals. Those counseling services are often free, and invaluable in clarifying what people need to do to move forward after a setback.

    The more you focus on your future, and the more steps you take towards making your future plans a reality, the happier and more self-confident you’ll feel. And, that’ll help you shrug off your mom’s behavior! You need to stop the downward and start your upward spiral, and the things I’ve suggested may help you do that.

    I wish you all the best, and hope you come back and let me know how things are going!


  3. Hi i lost my job and decided to move home with my parents. I am 42 with no money and slightly in debt. my mother questions everything i do and is hard on me when i am doing something. for instance: i begin to make breakfast. her: >>the milk is in the fridge, dont touch this that or the other, etc. then as i sit down she shouts out how to eat, then as i get up to wash she shouts dont forget to wah up. clean the table etc.
    Im an adult well educated and I work hard when I can, I am used to responsibility but I just cant get into the rythm anymore with her intimidating and humiliating ways. so my self esteem is really low extremely low. what can i do to get it back considering i have no money to move out.

  4. Hi Laurie,

    I love your blog! It’s fabulous, it’s fantastic and it’s superb. I think it’s amazing that you write this – we need so much strength to deal with life and also to achieve our goals and your blog has done that.

    Thank you for doing such an awesome job!

  5. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    It’s great that she lives in Iran, and has the strength, courage, and ability to divorce her husband! She sounds like an amazing woman; no wonder you’re in love with her. And, you care about her deeply.

    But, no matter how amazing she is or how much you care about her, you can’t control what will happen in three years or even three months. You and she need to take it one step at a time, which means supporting, loving, and encouraging her over the internet as much as you can. Even if she doesn’t check her email regularly, she’ll be reassured to know that your messages are there.

    You also can’t worry about how she’ll feel about you in the future. Even if you and she lived together in the same house, you wouldn’t have any guarantee of marriage or lifelong commitment! Life is uncertain and full of twists and turns…and all we can do is be open to everything and attached to nothing (that’s from Dr Wayne Dyer — if you can read his stuff, you should! He offers amazing life lessons).

    You’re not a “sinner” if you’re being a friend by supporting her. This is why I said all the stuff above; she needs to wrap up her first marriage on her own, and come to you as a free woman. You can support her by being a source of encouragement and friendly love.

    Take a deep breath, my friend, and remember Dr Wayne Dyer’s words: “Be open to everything, and attached to nothing.”

    Wishing you all the best,

  6. and u r right, she doesn’t need a knight in shining armor or a hero to rescue her. She needs to get strong and independent, on her own but dont you think, she need support?

  7. also laurie,

    m sure, she loves me genuinely and i can vouch for it. sometimes, i feel like a sinner to get in between my gf and her husband and then this relationship but i cannot see such discrimination against her. she deserves a life, where she will hear her ownself rather subjecting it for her husband. i know her last many years! do u think, m really a sinner?

  8. Greetings Laurie.

    Thanks for your advices. Im giving her time but like I said, giving her much space, dont you think, god forbid, she will forget me in due course of time? Its not that, I want her to marry me right away! Offcourse, her university degree is the only way, through which she can do for herself, the very best and this is what she wanted for her and so do I?

    The problem is that getting a divorce, seems way too tough for her to acheive. I am talking about Iranian Law. She is from Iran and women rights are very little over choices, getting divorce. It worries me … and I want to do something for her!

    We’re into this relationship, last 1 year and her whole family supports me but her husband and this divorce thing, really gives me nightmares! I want to help her but I cannot bcos she lives in Iran and Im living in Switzerland :( She cant come online as her husband, watches her from distance .. her online activities and calling her, is a mess too becuase, she is married and she dont want to get caught. I dont want to be pushy ..

    Laurie, she is living with he rparents last 2 years to pursue her degrees and m sure, she loves me and is looking forward to be with me but how shall I get serenity, for both of us until the next 3 years?

    Hope you’ll write back soon.

  9. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Anonymous,

    This may be difficult to hear, but I think the best thing to do in this case is give her time to finish her university degree and get her divorce. She needs to focus on tying up those chapters of her life before she brings in a new love.

    If she quits university and moves to you now, she may not go back and she’ll always regret that. Plus, she needs time to heal her heart, mind and soul. Even people who really want to get divorced find it difficult to start over with a new life.

    And, you don’t want to be her rebound person! That is, if she starts a new relationship too quickly after her marriage, she may not be starting for the right reasons…which means the love may not last.

    Though it may seem like it, she doesn’t need a knight in shining armor or a hero to rescue her. She needs to get strong and independent, on her own.

    I wish you and her all the best….and encourage you to give her at least until the summer to focus on pulling her life back together.


  10. I love this girl from who is battling to get her divorce from her dogmatic husband and it worries me, because I live 1000 miles away from her and things r really getting tougher then before. She lives with her mother to pursue her university but her husband keeps n banging her head, and tell her to come back which she wont, never again! We both love each other and she wants to come out. He dont know about me but I am too much worried for her and to loose her. What shall I do?

  11. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Thanks for your comment, Jenny. I agree — achieving your goals IS a lifelong process, and the sooner we accept that we’ll always be setting goals and striving to achieve them, the happier we’ll be!

    “Love the journey”, you say. I love it!


  12. Achieving your life goals is a lifelong process. It doesn’t happen overnight, or in a year. I think we have to accept the idea that you’ll never achieve everything you want in life. Love the journey!

  13. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    Thanks for your comment — it’s great to hear from you here.

    Yup, the more passionate you are about your goals…the more likely you’ll stick with and achieve them.

  14. The two things I really like about what you said is, Don’t give up, ever, and be excited or passionate about your goals. These two are the key. If you are not passionate then you will give up. If you give up, well the answer to that is obvious!

  15. Hello Laurie,
    Thank you for the advice! It helped loads. And it is true, I have been lacking sleep for a few days. My performance level, as I now realize is not up to par because of that.
    I am not going to lose! :)

  16. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hmmmm, Tracy….I’m thinking of your question about getting rid of the “weak loser mentality.”

    It sounds like you’re doing alot with your life! Make sure that you haven’t taken on too much. Nobody can do it all at once, and sometimes we need to let go of some things to make room for other, more important, things.

    Another thing that’s really important, which I was just telling Emily above, is that we need to surround ourselves with positive, supportive, energetic, successful people! People feed off each other, and the more negative, disappointed, tired people you have in your life the more you’ll feel those negative feelings. So, find people who fire you up, who motivate and encourage you.

    And, figure out what gives you energy. Do you like to spend time alone? Read chick lit? Go on road trips? Volunteer at certain places? (I volunteer at our local library every week, and it totally jazzes me up).

    Tune in to those activities that give you energy, and make them a regular part of your life. I’m not suggesting you pile on more activities — that’s stressful — but I do encourage you to find ways to bring more joy, support, and energy into your life. You’ll breathe in that energy and feel inspired and motivated.

    Finally — make sure you’re getting enough sleep, protein, and sunlight. It’s astounding how our enviroment and how we treat our bodies affects our energy and motivation levels! It seems like such a “no brainer” tip for achieving your goals….but what you eat and how much you sleep can make a huge difference in how you live your life.

    Best wishes, and keep moving forward, my friend! And remember: some times are just slower and harder than others. That’s part of life. But as long as you keep stepping forward, you can’t lose.


  17. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen


    Your comment didn’t sound cheesy in the least — it sounded hopeful, strong, enthusiastic, and positive! I’m sorry that some of the people in your life are discouraging you from your goals. That’s terrible….I can understant being realistic, but I think it’s more important to set small steps to even the biggest goals and just put one foot in front of the other.

    Honestly, getting what you want in life can be surprisingly easy — if you’re focused, disciplined, and not swayed by setbacks.

    I never thought I’d go to university, but one step led to another, and now I have two degrees. I never thought I’d own a home, but one step at a time and here we are! And I’ve always wanted to write a book…and my agent just today sent my sample chapters to a publisher. If I can achieve my goals, Emily, you can too! By the way, my book is called See Jane Soar — and it’s about women who weren’t well-behaved and who achieved great things in their lives :-) The purple button on the right takes you to my blog.

    Remember: you don’t have to achieve all your goals before you’re 18, or 21, or even 30. You can focus on what is most important to you right now…and the future will take care of its own self.

    And, remember that you only have to pick one thing right now in terms of a career (and you still have time to decide). I’ve worked as a teacher, social worker, office assistant, small business owner, freelance writer, and several more jobs. The beauty of being an adult is you have the freedom to do different things! You’ll be there soon.

    One last thing: surround yourself with people who believe in you. Find friends and mentors who are achieving their goals and who will support you as you figure you what you want to do with your life. There are SO MANY ways to surround yourself with positive, motivating forces: inspirational quotations, photos of women who achieved their goals, photos of where you want to be in life, websites and blogs that motivate you, even clothes and accessories that give you energy and make you feel like anything is possible.

    I wish you all the best Emily — and I believe you WILL achieve the goals you set for yourself.

    “Shoot for the moon, and you’ll land among the stars…”


  18. Hello Laurie,
    Thank you for the quick reply, I was surprised! Well, to break some goals down would basically come down to taking action with the goals I have. I am interning along with an art mentor to do murals, I’m going to be doing an illustration art for a friend’s children’s book, and I am doing a side business while working at Starbucks. I pretty much have alot on my plate and am (now I see) juggling with a lot. With the side business, I have been in it for a while and with that, I am afraid to take certain risks or taking action to do well in it. I feel that I am allowing many factors such as the opinions of my friends tamper me, the opinions and disappointment my parents have of me, and the opinions of my fellow co-workers too. I have not been doing well in performance all in all, and I feel that this negativity is just totally eating me up inside :(. I am trying to pull up and go up (because I believe it is the way to go after being down so long) but I just don’t seem to have the will. I try to push myself up, give myself the motivation, but it fails. I wonder what else would be it be to do what it takes to get rid of this weak loser mentality?

  19. I’m 15 and finding it hard deciding what I want to do in life. There are several things I’d really like to do but I’ve shared these goals with parents and friends before and been told I’ll never do it and I’m not good enough and there’s no point being unrealistic and aiming for something I won’t acheieve, I’ve also been bullied and that really wrecked me, I lost my confidence, I would hide and stay quiet, try not to do anything and not be noticed so no-one would pick on me.

    But now I’ve read this and things and decided there must be a way to do all the things I want to do even though there are lots and they’re going to be difficult. I’m not giving up just because other people think I should. And I’m not being who other people want me to be, I’m going to be who I want me to be, though first I’ve got to find that.

    And I just wanted to say that somewhere public so thank you for reading it! Even though it sounded really cheesy! And sorry it was so long! :)

    Good luck to everyone with your goals!

  20. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Hi Tracy,

    I’m sorry, but I can’t email you — I can’t give my tips or thoughts privately.

    To achieve your goals, I suggest narrowing down what’s holding you back to something specific. Be very, very specific, such as “I’m scared my friends will think I’m not smart enough to reach that goal.”

    Then, share your precise fears with someone you trust, who knows you and supports you. Often when we say what scares us out loud, the power those fears have diminishes.

    Also, take baby steps. Break down your goals into impossibly small steps — such as 1) Look up the number for the college I want to attend. 2) Call the call and ask for a course catalogue.

    That’s just an example — the point is to break your goals down into small steps that aren’t scary on their own…..but all added together are overwhelming! Don’t think big picture. Think one little step at a time.

    And, accept that you care what people think. I do, too. But, I just accept my hope that, for instance, my clients love the writing assignments I do for them….and I forge ahead anyway. I hate when I run into snags with my clients, but that’s what achieving goals is all about! Snags, mistakes, setbacks, getting out of the comfort zone, falling down, and getting back up again.

    Finally — I suggest that you learn about resiliency and bouncing back. Here’s a link to an article that might help, called “How to Fail and Bounce Back:”

    I hope this has helped a little, and I welcome you to return anytime!

    All best,

  21. It all comes down to taking risks and the fear of doing things out of my comfort zone that I think about and stop doing the things I need to do because of that prevents me to achieve my goals.
    I state my goal and what I want and a deadline, but I don’t go forth to do it because many things that hold me back, like the opinions of my friends, my family, money, and the risk.
    I see other people pass by going towards what they want,so I wonder what does it take?
    Email would be preferred for replay, thank you :)
    Great website!

  22. Why would you want to win back your cheating husband? More likely than not, he’ll turn around and cheat again.

    Instead of thinking about him, why not figure healthier life goals, which will make you happy?