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A diary with an encouraging message to take action. Wish for it, hope for it, dream of it but by all means do it.
Set and record you goals and action plans for success.

Goal setting and action planning


Two of the most commonly used and well-known behaviour change techniques are goal setting and action planning. When both are used together correctly, they can help individuals to regulate their own behaviour towards a planned goal(s). This has been successfully used for a range of fields including education, health and the environment to target a range of behaviours.

According to research, there are five main criteria which must be met to ensure your success in goal setting. These are:

  • the goal must be sufficiently difficult
  • people are committed to the goal
  • the complexity of the activity must not be high
  • feedback on progress is provided
  • there are relevant resources to achieve the goal and few situational constraints

Action planning is the process of breaking down the goal into smaller, more manageable steps. By clearly stating when, where and how you will perform a particular behaviour, you are more likely to act without having to think too much about it, which helps increase focus on the activity itself. There is evidence that people who develop action plans are more likely to act on their intentions and are more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t plan.

Below is a planning approach to help you achieve your Compassionate Care goals. This addresses the five main criteria for effective goal setting above as well as the principles of action planning. We have based this around SMART:

Specific – when setting your goal(s) it helps to write them using simple language, to be as precise and detailed as you can and to make your goals important and meaningful to you and your team.

Measureable – how will you measure success? What will it look like? Feel like? How will you use these goal(s) to motivate you, your team and/or the people you care for?

Attainable – to achieve you goal(s) they need to stretch you and/or your team but also be realistic. So be ambitious but not so ambitious that the likelihood of success is very low.

Relevant – what results do you want? What seems reasonable? Are these goals going to be rewarding enough – for you, your team or the people you care for?

Time-based – when do you want to achieve your goal(s) by? how will you track your progress towards achieving your goal(s)? are there steps or events or activities or dates that you can use to help keep you on track?

The Compassionate Care SMART action plan template can be used to support goal setting through action planning.

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This article is from the free online course:

Compassionate Care: Getting it Right

University of Dundee