How to create a Christmas action plan
In previous posts I’ve talked about reviewing Christmas and noting down what went well – and what could be improved next time.
If you did that, grab your notes and have a read through to remind yourself how you felt immediately after the festive season.
Didn’t get around to doing a review? Don’t worry! Have a look at my post on reviewing Christmas and make some notes before starting work on your action plan.
What’s an action plan and why bother?
A Christmas action plan contains your goals and a list of tasks and deadlines you need to complete in order to make some/all of the improvements you’ve identified in your review.
Your plan should include:
- A detailed description of the goals you want to achieve
- A list of tasks that need to be done in order to reach your goals
- The names of the people who will carry out each task
- Deadlines for the tasks and goals
- A list of resources needed to complete the tasks
- The milestones and measures you’ll use to evaluate progress
Action plans are often used in a work context, but they can also help you achieve your personal goals.
I can’t emphasise enough how much easier it is to plan and track progress when you have it all written down in an action plan.
It helps keep you focused, motivated and accountable and will vastly improve your chances of success.
So it’s worth the effort, I promise!
What do you want to achieve?
Once you have your festive review notes in front of you, it’s time to identify the two or three areas you felt needed improvement and would make the biggest difference to your enjoyment of the festive season.
These are the basis of your goals. I recommend picking no more than three so they remain achievable and you don’t become overwhelmed and disheartened.
Be as specific as you can. Vague goals with no deadlines or ways to measure progress often don’t get done!
How do I set my goals?
You might have heard of SMART goals at work…buzzwords like these generally make me roll my eyes, but, take it from me, this one does actually work.
SMART stands for:
S Specific (target a specific area for improvement)
M Measurable (identify a way of measuring progress)
A Achievable (specify who will do the tasks and how)
R Relevant (your goals should help you achieve your objective)
T Time-bound (set a date by which you’ll achieve your goal)
Here’s an example of how to make a very general goal of “I want to save more money in advance to spend on Christmas” into a SMART goal:
“My goal is to avoid stress and financial problems at Christmas.
“I have completed a review of my Christmas finances from last year and have identified that I need to save an additional £750 over the next 12 months.”
How do I turn my goals into an action plan?
Write a list of everything you need to do in order to achieve your goals.
Break down your tasks – for example, ‘buy Christmas presents earlier’ is too large a task.
When you think you’re done, see if you can break down your to-do list even further. Then create realistic deadlines for each task.
Here’s how I’d turn my saving money for Christmas goal into a SMART action plan:
“In order to achieve this, this week I’ll open a savings account with a bank or building society that’s different to my main banking provider.
“I will NOT opt into online banking, so I can’t access the money without physically going into a branch (which is slow and inconvenient for me).
“The money I need to put aside is £62.50 on a monthly basis, or £14.43 weekly.
“Once the account is open, I will immediately set up a standing order of £62.50 from my main current account to be moved across on my monthly payday (e.g. before I am tempted to spend it on other and/or unnecessary things).
“I will review my outgoings each month for the next three months, to see if this is causing me any other financial strain and, if yes, I will review my general outgoings to trim back expenditure in other areas.
“I have consciously decided to prioritise the Christmas budget, so I will commit and adjust my expenditure in other areas accordingly.
“I have put a note in my diary for a month-end personal finances review for the next three months – so I have ear-marked time to do it and I don’t forget.
“My friend Laura has committed to do the same thing so we can support each other and hold each other accountable.
“We have both agreed to actively track our Christmas spending this year as well, so we can focus and improve over time.
“I will know I’ve been successful when I have saved the money I need to pay for Christmas and everything is paid for with no financial strain and stress.”
Now you have your comprehensive list of tasks, schedule each one in your calendar so you make time for them and don’t forget.
I also create a ‘not to do’ list – for example,if you’ve decided to delegate something (or have decided not to do it anymore) make sure you have a visible ‘NOT to do list’ so you don’t get tempted back into old behaviour.
What if I miss a deadline?
Don’t let a missed deadline become an excuse for giving up. Just set another one and keep going!
What do I do now?
You’ve got your action plan, so start work on those tasks!
Remember to regularly monitor and evaluate your progress – in fact, I would make this a regular scheduled task as part of your action plan.
I also create a ‘done’ list, not just a ‘to do’ list. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate when you’ve achieved something!
It’s okay to make adjustments to your plan as you go – you might realise something is more difficult than you first thought, or takes up more of your time.
And finally, accept there are some things you won’t be able to change, so focus on what’s within your control.
I hope you find this guide useful and that it helps you create an action plan that helps you achieve your goals for a fun and fabulous Christmas. I’d love to hear how you get on.