How to create an effective action plan

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By HeatherAsh Amara

HeatherAsh Amara

The New Year is a great time to re-evaluate where you are putting your energy and what specific steps you can implement to create lasting change in your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Here is an effective step-by-step process to identify what you want, be aware of what keeps you from getting it, and create a plan to take action to reach your goal.

What Do You Want?

Start by picking one, two, or all three areas you would like to focus on: mental, emotional, and/or physical. Start slowly so you do not overwhelm yourself. I recommend starting with one area, getting clear on your action step, doing it for a week, and then seeing if you can add more actions and stay balanced. The lovely thing is that no matter what area you focus on, it will affect all the areas in your life.

When you do this process make sure you come from your heart, rather than your head. Deepen into a feeling space rather than a thinking space. Trust what arises. Close your eyes and ask yourself, “Where do I want to put my focus for the next week?” Now go through the areas: mental, emotional, physical. What calls out to you the most? If they all feel equal or you do not get a clear message, just pick one without too much thought or worry. Make it a simple process.

Once you have the area you want to work with, explore what it is you want to embody or transform into. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Mental integrity: What would you like to experience in your mind? What is your goal or desired mental state during the day?
  • Emotional integrity: How would you like to feel? How would you like to respond to others or experience yourself emotionally?
  • Physical integrity: What do you want to experience in relationship to your physical body? What is a desired vision you want to manifest in your physical world?

What Does It Feel Like?

When you have an answer, close your eyes again and feel the desired state or transformation in your body. For example: If you want to have a sense of ease and calm in your mind at work, imagine what that feels and looks like. If you want to be financially stable doing work you love, imagine that is true right now. Make it as real and visceral as possible. You can also make it real by remembering if there was a time that you did feel that way. Anchor this feeling into your body, so it becomes your guidepost. This feeling is your goal; it’s what you are moving yourself towards.

What Gets in the Way?

Now look back over the past month of your life. What keeps you from holding this state? Go explore where you have thoughts or reactions or fears or strategies that take you out of the feeling you just anchored in your body. Where do you go out of balance or get stuck in terms of your integrity in that area? Some questions to ask include the following:

  • Mental integrity: What thoughts or beliefs are causing you to suffer or dampen your energy? What is your mind telling you? Where do you go into worst-case scenario thinking?
  • Emotional integrity: What reactions or fears cause you to lose your emotional fluidity? Where do you block your emotions? Where do you go out of balance emotionally?
  • Physical integrity: Where do you judge your body or the material world? Where do you feel you do not deserve? How do you sabotage your creations?

Keep asking questions until you identify core obstacles to your goal. These are the habits or patterns that block you from being in your integrity, from living the life you truly want. It helps me to visualize my goal, and then see the obstacles that stand in the way as something tangible but smaller than my intent.

What Can You Do Differently?

Now comes the time for specific actions. The question to ask is, “If I want to get there and these things are in my way, what actions can I take to create more spaciousness and energy, or to dissolve the obstacle?” Come up with one specific action.


Let’s say your desire is to be centered and focused at work, with a sense of mental ease. As you delve into the obstacle, you find a strong voice that yells at you, “There is not enough time! You don’t have what it takes! You are going to fail!”

Anchor the feeling of being centered with focused ease at work; then look at the obstacle from that point of view.

Here are some actions you might take:

  1. Positive self-talk: Every time you notice that loud voice, you breathe deeply, pause, and repeat, “I have plenty of time. I can do this.”
  2. Commit to only step into your office when you are centered and feel a sense of ease. The moment you hear the loud voices, leave your office and go do something to shift your state.
  3. Do a recapitulation of all the times you have felt there is not enough time or that you are going to fail. Call all the energy back, and release the energy you took on from others. Any time you hear the voice, recapitulate. Identify where that voice comes from, and bring your energy back, while releasing what is not yours. Step back into your intent.

Stay Centered, Focused, and Willing

At first it may seem challenging or overwhelming to take new actions to shift old agreements or emotions. Follow these simple steps to stay centered in your actions:

  1. STOP! Take a breath, slow down, and embrace yourself energetically. Remind yourself of your intent and anchor it into your body. Take as much time as you need to get the feeling solid.
  2. LOOK! What is the obstacle that has arisen between you and your intent? Name it: this gives you power over it. Then move into your own stillness, beyond any shallow fears and busyness. Sharpen your awareness to find the faulty belief that keeps you from reaching for your depth in this moment.
  3. LISTEN! Go back to the action step you had set for yourself, or make another concrete action step. No matter how small, taking a next conscious action is movement in the right direction.

Find your willingness to do these three steps over and over and over again! Don’t think that the problem will be fixed after a single try. You may be stopping, looking, and listening in a new way every few seconds.

Breathe, look, listen, and have fun.