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An Action Plan is a very useful tool to support your recovery. It provides a structure for you to implement a self-management strategy (e.g. take frequent brain breaks) or take steps in returning to a meaningful activity (e.g. going hiking). Gradually getting more active is treatment, not just something to start after you are fully recovered.
Creating an Action Plan
Before we begin, download this blank Action Plan template [pdf] to follow along. Ready? Now let’s begin.
Step 1: Choose a goal area
Step 2: Identify your action
Step 3: Get more specific
Step 4: Think of potential obstacles
Step 5: Confidence check
Step 6: Take Action!
Step 7: Check for results
Throughout this guide, there are many examples of goal areas to choose from, such as better managing headaches; improving sleep; pacing; assertive communication; return to activities; stress management; and many more goal areas to choose from.
Now, identify an action you can take towards reaching that goal.
It’s important to use the SMART principles (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) when writing your action.
Instead of “exercise more,” a SMART action would be “use my stationary bike, for 15 minutes, on level 2, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”
Deciding to do something won’t automatically lead to change unless you have a concrete plan. Again, think about Where, When, and How Often or How Much?
Think of any obstacles that might come up, and brainstorm strategies to overcome them.
How confident are you to complete this action on a scale of 0-10?
If your confidence is 7 or higher, you are ready to take action. If not, modify your Action Plan until you feel at least 7/10 confident.
Put your plan in action!
How did it go? Sometimes Action Plans don’t go perfectly the first time. Be kind to yourself. Behaviour change is hard. Make some changes, and try again.
Tips on Creating Action Plans
- Choose goals and actions that are important and meaningful to you.
- Start with something simple. Learning to make an action plan is a new skill, and we want you to set yourself up for success.
- When choosing goals/actions, think SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
- Don’t take on too many Action Plans at once since this can be overwhelming.
- Consider sharing your plan with a loved one or health provider to increase accountability.
Hopefully by now you have created an action plan of your own. Here is an example of a completed action plan [pdf].
I Completed an Action Plan. Now what?
After completing an Action Plan successfully, you could try moving onto a different goal. You can also make a new Action Plan based on the same goal and increase the frequency, duration, or intensity.
Your Action Plans will help you form good habits over time, allowing you to move closer to your larger goals, and increasing your independence and confidence.
Action Plans are so important and we will be referring to them a lot in MyGuide: Concussion. Consider taking the time now to practice making an Action Plan of your own in an area that is important to you.
You can download a blank template [pdf].