Meaningful Action Plans
By Katy Plant
The New Year is a chance at a fresh start. Many of us set New Year’s resolutions with good intentions wanting to get the year off to a successful start. For those that set an intention or resolution to make changes to their health, they may find themselves signing up for a program like our Better Choices, Better Health®, Virtual Lifestyle Management®, or Building Better Caregivers® workshops. With pent up demand after the holidays, we often find that January brings in a large influx of signups to our programs. Participants are motivated to accomplish goals they may not have been successful with in the past. Lucky for them, they have come to the right place.
Many digital health programs use goal setting as a means for helping participants make lasting changes in their life. Our unique approach addresses a common reason that people are not previously successful with their goals, that is, they have made their goals too big or too generic and tried to bite off too much all at once. This approach is backed by numerous health science researchers that have found the best success to adopting healthful behaviors is to change small habits one at a time.
We call this approach action planning, and the process starts with thinking about a larger goal, but quickly moves from setting a goal to breaking it up into small doable pieces. While many a New Year’s resolution involves losing weight, action planning helps break goals (like losing weight) up into actionable items that are behavior specific each week. Those actions can range from researching local exercise classes, drinking more water, or getting to sleep on time in order to fit in a workout the next morning.
Ironically, the other key to accomplishing action plans is the occasional failure. Creating too lofty an action plan, a last minute snow storm, or forgetting to schedule the activity into your day can all lead to learning moments about how to be successful even when life happens. With the help of peers who are also setting weekly action plans, participants learn tips from each other about how to conquer the occasional action plan barrier. After 6 weeks of action planning, people leave confident that they can continue with their success and more likely, to accomplish what they may have set out to do with that New Year’s Resolution.
Want to see action planning in action? Listen to how Action Planning has helped several of our participants: