How to Create an Action Plan to Reach Any Goal

It’s a long story, so I’ll just share the short version: at some point in 2016, I reached a breaking point. There were a few critical factors, but first and foremost, my job was sucking the life out of me. Literally.

IMG_0130Physically, I was sick all the time, usually by way of blinding migraines. Mentally, what started as small memory lapses, like paying the cable bill, became big issues, like when I bought a ticket for a Halloween party/fundraiser and showed up on the wrong night.

The party was supposed to be the debut night of my new wig, but I blew it. I’m sorry, wig. You deserve better.

After some intense self-reflection, and with the help of a professional, I concluded that I was the only thing holding me back from quitting a job that was turning me into a person I didn’t like very much.

So on my birthday in late October, I gave myself a gift: I quit my job without anything else lined up.


Ok, I turned in my resignation and hoped no one yelled at me. In the end, I worked through mid-December, then I went on a cruise with my mom. It’s another long story, but it was just what I needed to decompress and get in the right mindset to start 2017 with a blank slate.

After rewatching the entire Battlestar Galactica series, I started 2017 by drafting an action plan to ensure I didn’t blow through a whole multi-seasoned Sci-Fi series in less than a month again. Or, at least until I had generated some income.

I drafted my action plan as a blog post, and to be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t just post it in January. But, that’s the old me. Perhaps it was fear, or what I now recognize as my inability to finish things, but whatever the case, I’m not going to hold myself back anymore – let’s do this thing!

In this post, I’m going to share my initial action plan. I’ll report my progress in late November (or early December), and I’ll let you know how I did in January, only a few short months away.

IMG_0832The Remarkable Power of Setting Goals

It was only in the last few years that I learned how powerful the goal setting process can be. I want to share my process in case it might be helpful, and so I can provide updates to be held accountable.

Step 1: The Goal
Write down what it is you would like to do, accomplish or achieve.

I’d like to be able to earn an income without working for anyone else. Using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) method, I came up with the following goal:

Goal: Earn $25,000 through self-employment by 12/31/2017

Step 2: Pathways
Next, come up with 3 – 5 “big picture” things to do that will move you closer to your goal. They can be pretty general for now, but it’s vital that they are realistic.

I came up with five ways to generate income for myself.

  1. Contract Work: I have a lot of marketable skills, I just need to figure out what they are and what I want to do. With a little bit of thought and hard work, this can be a good source of income for me.
  2. Blog: I’ve blogged professionally using WordPress in the past, so I know this is something I can do. My research around how to earn income from a blog indicates that this can be a long-term revenue generating strategy, so I want to get it started as soon as possible.
  3. Writing: I need to write articles on a regular basis to produce enough content to get noticed. I also want to contribute guest posts to as many blogs and websites as possible.
  4. Course Development: I’ve done this professionally in the past, so I know I can do it. I’m currently in a Master’s program for Instructional Design and Technology, so this is something that I should be doing anyway. This wouldn’t normally have made the list, but I came across an article mentioning this as a hot new trend for generating income.
  5. Grants: Since I’m still in school, I should just look and see if there’s any ‘free’ money out there where I might be a good candidate.
Step 3: Action Items
Now that you have determined where you want to go (the goal) and the routes you can take to get there (the pathways), it’s time to figure out how to get moving.

For each general pathway, come up with at least three action items that you can take to move you forward. Some pathways require a lot more work than others, so I hesitate to put a limit on the number of action items. If the list becomes too overwhelming, which mine often does, it’s time to stop.

I came up with several action items for the first few pathways. I had to stop because I was, in fact, getting overwhelmed and stressed out.

Contract Work

Update Resume: The last time I updated my resume was about three years ago. The process will remind me what I’ve accomplished in the past and will help me figure out what my marketable skills are. I also want to have this updated in case a potential client asks for it.

Update LinkedIn: My resume and LinkedIn profile are pretty much in the same sad state. I think I might even still have my former organization as my current employer. I’m not going to add this as a sub-bullet here, but I need to learn how and why to use LinkedIn. I find it to be incredibly intimidating, but I’m not sure why.

Any tips?

Create Portfolio: Again, I’m intimidated by the sound of this task, but I know it’s something I need to do. I have a folder with a bunch of my work printed out, but so far, it hasn’t gotten me any work (lousy folder!) I just need to figure out what I want to showcase and how I want to represent myself. I’m hoping this will be easier once I update my resume.

This is where I lost steam. I’ll fill in more of the details in my late November/early December post!

Develop Scope of Services
Research Pricing


Build WordPress Site
Write at least one post per week for myself
Register as an affiliate


Submit an article/infographic to elearning site
Write at least four posts for Casa Pena Designs
Write at least five articles/posts to various sites for $

Course Development

Research process for receiving payment for course
Determine Content: Adult Learning Principles
Design Course
Create Storyboard
Develop Course


That’s it! As I mentioned, I’ll report my progress in late November/early December and will follow up in January to let you know how it worked out.

In the meantime, if you have any goals I can help with, we should talk – two birds, you know what I mean?!?

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