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Achieve Goals through Action Planning

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals. ~Henry David Thoreau

Once you’ve completed your integrative healthcare plan, it’s time to put it into action. However, you may be thinking to yourself that while your plan looks nice on paper, the thought of accomplishing all of your healthcare goals is overwhelming. Take heart. Your Plan is simply a blueprint – a tool that can be revisited throughout your journey to help you see the big picture.

Action planning is the process of breaking up larger goals into smaller “action plans”. It is an effective strategy for achieving health related goals. Action planning will set you up for small victories throughout your journey, which will help you gain the confidence that YOU are in control of your healthcare journey, this confidence alone – sometimes referred to as self-efficacy – can inspire hope. Never underestimate the power of positive attitude to promote healing, or the impact seemingly small or isolated changes can have on your overall health.

Take a look at the “My Plan” sheet you have completed. Think about the options you’ve listed under each area of health care in your plan as individual goals for healing. The thought of tackling all these goals at the same time is probably (understandably) overwhelming. However, you can set yourself up for success by choosing one or two of the individual goals to address at a time and developing action plans to achieve them.

How to Make an Action Plan
When it comes to action planning, how do you know where to start?

First, revisit your My Plan sheet. Take some time to reflect on each area of health care, the individual goals you’ve listed within them, and how focusing on this area of your healthcare might improve your overall well-being.

Next, choose one goal from any of the areas of health care on your My Plan worksheet that you want to begin working on achieving right now. Choose a health care goal that is really important to you right now and that you are willing to work for, even if it means making some changes to your lifestyle or daily routine.

Then, download the My Healthcare Action Plan.

Next, follow the Action Planning instructions to develop an action plan for one thing you can do right now to help you achieve your overall healthcare goal. This action plan should be a step toward achieving your larger goal, so think about breaking down your larger goal into more manageable, “bite sized” behaviors, changes, or practices that you can realistically undertake.

Hint: It’s important to develop a time frame for each action plan you create. To keep action plans realistic and manageable, weekly action plans are recommended.

Finally, ask yourself, “On a scale from 1 to 10, how confident am I that I can follow through with my action plan?” If the answer is 7 or higher, you’re very likely to be able to follow through with your plan, so get started! If you answer is lower than 7, think about ways to modify your plan to boost your confidence in being able to follow through with it. Make the necessary modifications, and then get started. 

We encourage you to break up all your healthcare goals into smaller, attainable action plans. Celebrate the small victories along the way, and take solace in the fact that journeys are naturally full of detours and dead-ends; you can always change directions and stop for a rest along the way.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t, either way you are right.” Henry Ford

Gutnick D, Reims K, Davis C, Gainforth H, Jay M, Cole S. Brief action planning to facilitate behavior change and support patient self-management. JCOM. 2014;21(1)17-29.

Bodenheimer T, Davis C, Holman H. Helping patients adopt healthier behaviors. Clin Diabetes. 2007;25(2)66-70.