In two previous posts, we discussed “How to Set Achievable Personal Recovery Goals” and “How to Develop a Successful Personal Recovery Plan.” Please review these if you haven’t already as they form the foundation for this post. I’ll give a very brief summary here:
- Identify one or more specific personal recovery goals that are important to you.
- Prioritize these goals and first focus on those most vital to your health.
- Develop a written personal recovery plan for each goal with specific action steps.
- Determine approximate time frames or target dates to complete each action step.
- Enlist a healthy support team; ask for their help and tell them about your plan.
- Include emergency contact names and numbers for use in times of crisis.
- Build a list of positive rewards to give yourself regularly to stay motivated.
- Make both a private and a public commitment to work hard on your plan.
- Set a start date to put your plan into action.
If you have completed these steps, now it’s time to put your plan into action. It’s been said that a plan without action is just a dream. Without steady and effective action, you won’t reach your goal.
Here are seven important steps for successfully putting your plan into action:
1) Work your plan
I’ve coached a lot of people who had a great plan, but for various reasons they didn’t work consistently on the specific action steps. You can’t work on all of the action steps in your plan every single day; that’s not reasonable. But do choose at least one specific step you can commit to work on each day. If you can handle more than one step at a time, go for it. Just be deliberate and make sure to take action on some part of your plan regularly. Go for the easy wins first by working on items you can accomplish quickly. This will rev up your motivation and give you more energy for the next steps.
2) Keep your plan with you
Your plan won’t be very effective if you can’t remember what’s in it and which steps you are working on currently. So keep a copy of your plan nearby at all times. Even better, keep several copies around where you can easily find and use them. Some folks like to put a copy on their refrigerator, but don’t forget to also keep a copy with you when you are away from home. Having an electronic copy on your phone can come in handy for those times when you are out and about and want to take a look at it.
3) Review and measure progress daily
Just as you brush your teeth and take a shower each morning, you need to get in the habit of reviewing your recovery plan on a daily basis. Ideally, scan your plan before the day starts and note the tasks you are planning to work on that day. Near the end of the day, review the plan again and note the progress you have made on specific action steps. When you complete an item, check it off and congratulate yourself. If you didn’t complete a specific step, reflect on what got in the way and reassign that step to the next day or another date in the near future.
4) Check in with your support team
It’s important to stay in touch with your support team and check in with them at regular intervals. You will see some of your team frequently, such as your therapist during therapy sessions or your sponsor when you attend support group meetings. For others, you will have to schedule regular check-ins via phone, email or in person. When you check in with your supporters, be open and honest and let them know how your plan is progressing. Ask for their feedback, particularly when you feel you aren’t making the progress you want on specific action steps.
5) Reward yourself for progress
Each day that you have made some progress on your action steps, take time to enjoy something from your list of affordable, accessible and healthy rewards. This will give you something to look forward to each day and will also bring some fun and enjoyment to your daily routine. But remember that you only earn the reward if you made some progress toward your goal, so no cheating!
6) Revise your plan as needed
Remember that this is your plan, and not anyone else’s, so revise and update it freely. If some action steps that initially seemed worthwhile now seem unrealistic or too difficult, take them off your plan or break them down into easier steps. If you think of new action steps that will help you achieve your goal, add them to your plan. Modify target dates, add new support team members, and make any other needed changes to your plan to keep it current, workable, and on target.
7) Stick with it
Taking action toward your goals is rewarding and exciting, but it can also be challenging and sometimes exhausting. It’s easy to lose momentum, become discouraged or give up altogether. When you feel overwhelmed, take a deep breath, take a break, and check in with your support team for reassurance and guidance. You may need to further refine your plan to make some tasks less difficult or work on some easier tasks first to help you get back on track. Just remember to keep your goal in sight at all times.
As Alfred A. Montapert said, Your life will be no better than the plans you make and the action you take. You are the architect and builder of your own life, fortune, and destiny. In my next post, we’ll talk about how to get back on track with your plan if a slip or setback occurs.
So, here’s a question: What else do I need to do to put my personal recovery plan into action? Please leave a comment. Also please consider subscribing to my blog and feel free to follow me on Twitter, “like” my Facebook page, or connect on LinkedIn. Thanks!