Creating your 2016 action plan

I threw away my template for my 2016 action plan.

You see, every year I sit down with a fairly comprehensive template that helps me look at things like:

  • What successes I had during the year
  • What didn’t work out so well
  • What I would change
  • What I want to add
  • New ideas I want to incorporate into my life

I spend hours creating this, looking extensively at how I can do better in the coming year.

But I realized something as I sat down to work on it this year. When I looked at the past few years, a lot of it was copy/paste.

You know what I mean.

I copied things from 2014 and carried them over to 2015. And I was in the process of copying things from 2015 and inserting them into 2016.


It’s a lot like my New Year’s resolutions that move from one year to the next without being completed. My desire to learn Spanish. My desire to quit eating sweets. Things like that.

I discovered I was doing the same thing with my yearly plans. I still wanted to write books … I have the outlines in place. I just hadn’t gotten to them all yet.


I still have plans for a reinvention event. Plans have been made. Ideas are on the drawing board.


This year I did something different. I asked myself a question. If I didn’t do it last year, would I really get it done this year?

If it wasn’t a priority last year, why would it be this year?

Is this what I truly wanted to do?

Is this my true direction?

And I came to the conclusion that maybe this year I need to do something different.

“A goal is a dream with a deadline.” Napoleon Hill

Where The Problem Was

I went back through my copy/paste plan and quickly discovered a problem. Listed on my goals from last year were more than two dozen items I hoped to accomplish in the year. TWO DOZEN.  And in most cases they weren’t small accomplishments. Nope, I tend to be the over-achiever, believer that I can do it all kind of person. So my list contained things like:

  • Write fiction book series
  • Write  four non-fiction books
  • Create new course
  • Learn Spanish
  • Plan four week-long trips

Yep, the list was huge.

This past year, several of my mentors had written about the concept of unplanning. Letting things happen rather than creating huge to-do lists. And in fact, I’ve even done a little research on the concept of shortening up planning lists to make them more real, more doable.

Tim Ferriss from The 4 Hour Work Week fame creates what he calls a dreamline, for instance, to do only the things he truly wants to do. It’s a way for listing out a reasonable number of things he wants in his life without regards for how he’s going to get them. He doesn’t limit his dreams by what he currently has, rather writes them down based on what he wants to do. He creates his dream lifestyle in short bursts based on who he is at the moment, trusting the rest will fall into place as e gets there.

He creates two timelines – 6 months and 12 months – and lists up to five things he’s dreaming about.

1 place to visit
1 thing to do before you die
1 thing to do daily
1 thing to do weekly
1 thing you’ve always wanted to learn

With those in mind, you can plan out your time accordingly. You can also use that to plan your financing as well. If you want to learn to be a better cook, for instance, find a cooking class in your area. How much is it? Budget that into your expenses for the next six months.

Easy. And it makes sense.

It means your list shrinks. The things on your list will become a priority and WILL get accomplished. No more transferring from one year to the next.

Now some part of my goal planning is still necessary. But the key that I’ll be trying this year is to limit my list to what I truly desire, rather than creating a laundry list of things to do.

This years planning looks like this.

1. Choose 5 things I will accomplish in the next 6 months, without regards to what’s possible.

2. Create an initial plan of action for how I will accomplish these 5 things.

3. Make each goal specific. They tell me exactly what I want to accomplish.

4. Each goal has a deadline in place so I can measure the results.

5. They are written down and currently reside in a file on my desktop so I can look at them every day.

No more copy/paste.

Instead, I have 5 things that are in the forefront of my mind.

I’m giving it a try this year, I’ll let you know how it goes.

What works for you?