Developing A Power Action Plan

It always starts with a thought in the head.

● Nicolai Tesla liked to walk alone because he could think. During one of those walks, at age 26, an idea bloomed in his head for an electric motor that could generate a brushless alternating current. There was some sand by the path, and it is said that he used a stick to draw his first sketches of electromagnets in that sand. All he had was a thought in his head.

● The two wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville. Like Tesla, they too had an epoch-making thought in their heads: the idea of man in controlled flight through the air. They were skilled mechanics, thanks to years of working with printing presses, bicycles, motors and other machinery. They believed that if something as unstable as a bicycle could be ridden with practice, so too could a flying machine be flown with practice. It was a thought in the head.

Look around you. Everything you see, live with, use, create starts as a thought in the head. When President John F Kennedy announced that America was planning to put a man on the moon, it was a thought in the head. When Bill Gates announced his dream of a computer on every desk, it was a thought in the head. When Elon Musk spoke of affordable, efficient electric cars, it was a thought in the head.

What does it take to convert a thought into a throbbing, pulsing, living reality? The answer is in two words: an Action Plan. The Action Plan is the vital bridge without which the greatest dreams and visions of every inventor, designer, architect, CEO and visionary would have just remained as thoughts.

When Tesla drew his sketches in the sand of the pavement, he began creating his Action Plan. When the Wright Brothers drew their blueprints for the first gliders and then the first motorized flying machine, their thoughts began to turn into Action Plans.

But even an Action Plan is just that — a plan. When does a thought become a reality? That requires the Action Plan to be carried out by moving it to execution. Once an Action Plan is acted upon, reality begins to form.

I have noticed that something magical starts happening as you move into execution — your goals start evolving. Think of the Wright Brothers — their goal was really to create a motor that could help a pilot balance the plane along three axes. But almost as soon as they had created that motor, their goal expanded because their minds began to focus on making that motor bigger, more durable, capable of longer flights carrying greater loads.

Similarly Tesla could not have anticipated that his simple design for generating an alternating would lead to a sustainable method for lighting up an entire planet. He could not even have anticipated that it would pitch him in direct competition with Thomas Alva Edison, who claimed that his direct current was the solution the world needed. Tesla could not have foreseen the rich and productive alliance he would form with Mr Westinghouse that would lead to one of America’s largest corporations being formed.

This is why I see the journey from thoughts to reality as a four-step journey.


The goals you created in the previous chapter are thoughts on paper, but still only thoughts. In this chapter, we will learn how to create Action Plans to start making those Goals come to life by executing an Action Plan. Of course, the Internet is full of tips and tricks for converting your Goals into Action Plans, but in this chapter, I will share my own tested format for developing a detailed Action Plan that can serve you over the years.

What is an Action Plan?

Many people feel genuinely confused when they hear the phrase Action Plan because it sounds so much like a To-do list, a subject that has a whole chapter devoted to it in The Source Code To Success. I’d like to start by helping you understand this first.

An Action Plan is very much like a to-do list, except that it is entirely focussed on achieving a single, specific goal. Unlike a to-do list, which is a prioritized collection of tasks for a period, an Action Plan tends to be sequential, describing tasks and activities which must be done in a certain order, some of them one after the other and others in parallel, to achieve a specific goal.

Take the example of building your dream house project. It starts, as always, with a dream or thought in your head of having your dream home. But it begins to forward when you make an Action Plan, which might look like something like this —

  1. Sketching your thoughts about your dream house on a piece of paper .
  2. Ascertaining exactly the area needed for building it on a paper.
  3. Ascertaining few selected and alternative locations for it.
  4. Ascertaining the total cost for completing the project.
  5. Researching on banks and housing loans for gettings the funds.
  6. Searching suitable property for sale in your preferred locations.
  7. Purchasing the Land.
  8. Hire an architect for giving a professional shape to your dream house.
  9. Review alternative house designs.
  10. Approving the final design based on your preference and intuition.
  11. Discussing about the details of fixtures, materials, and construction.
  12. Getting the approvals and paperwork.
  13. Starting the construction works.
  14. Completion of the construction works
  15. House warming ceremony or Inauguration.

Do we build a house by just putting random bricks without having any idea about the outcome? No. Then what do we do that with our life? Don’t you think that it’s an ultimate foolishness to live a life just in a dream state without an action plan or a blueprint to achieve it?

And so on. The illustrative Action plan makes an important point. An Action Plan helps you turn a Goal into a reality In the same way that you build a house, by precisely putting one brick on another, systematically following a blueprint.

In a simple sentence, a Goal without an Action Plan is just a daydream.

So what is an Action Plan?

An Action Plan is a detailed list outlining actions needed to reach a specific goal. Once you write it down, it becomes a token of your commitment to your accountability in achieving your goals. It helps clarify the resources needed, how to acquire them, and what other steps to take and in what order over what period to reach the goal.

Bill Gates is a maestro at converting his Vision and Goals realities. His first big Vision— a computer in every home — led to the global giant Microsoft and the PC explosion. But his second vision— ending extreme poverty by 2035 — is even more mind-boggling and visionary.

“It’s fine to have an ambitious objective,” he says. “But you need a concrete objective, and you need to know how you’re going to get there.” Like so many of the world’s achievers, Gates is talking about an Action Plan.

Unlike Bill Gates, fellow visionary billionaire Larry Page, co-founder of Google, hates process but even he is a disciple of the Action Plan. “Good ideas with great execution are how you make magic,” says Larry Page. His cosmic vision of organizing all the information in the world could not have been achieved if he did not have a detailed Action Plan — which he executed faithfully over the days,months, years and decades.

This chapter, following on Goal-setting, is the crucial link between vision and reality, between dreaming big and making those big dreams come true. The work you put into your Action Plan may feel daunting and challenging. But I promise you, it is that magic that will make your life blossom and your dreams come true.

Benefits of an Action Plan

An Action Plan has unexpected benefits that actually positively affect your ability to achieve your Goals.

Makes progress visible: One of the most tangible benefits of making and executing an Action Plan is that you can literally see progress towards making your Goal a reality. An Action Plan is like a thermometer where the mercury inches up as your temperature is detected. It is your road map towards the goal, and it will guide and help you monitor every step of your journey. As you systematically complete each item in your Action Plan towards a goal, you can see your reality also take shape, like a hazy distant figure becoming clearer and clearer as you get closer.

Increases your focus: An Action Plan directs your attention to the next thing you need to do to achieve your Goal. Yes, you may have many simultaneous Goals, and each one may have its Action Plan but the focussing effect still helps you home in on your next tasks. This is vitally important when your canvas is life itself and you are seeking to improve all areas of life in order to realize your grand Vision and Mission. The Action Plan shows you the trees instead of the forest.

Increase self-confidence: Along with this comes a surge of confidence, a confirmation: I can do this! This self-confidence increases your feeling of control over your circumstances and Goals, and right away gives you an energy boost.

How to develop an Action Plan

I agree, it might initially appear daunting to develop a lifetime’s worth of specific steps to realize your Goals in each of the 11 life areas we have identified. The good news is that you don’t have to do it all in one afternoon. Take your time, and do not hurry, allowing yourself the latitude and time to develop powerful Action Plans for each life area. Think of it this way: your life literally depends on it.

I recommend a recursive approach. For each life goal, first make a quick list of broad actions. For example, if your career goal is to become a doctor and build an ultra-modern hospital, your broad steps in the first round could be:

  1. Complete an advanced medical education
  2. Set up an independent practice
  3. Set up a polyclinic
  4. Find collaborators
  5. Form a trust
  6. Secure funding
  7. Build next generation hospital

In the next iteration, expand each of these points into the next level of detail. For example, you might expand the first point in this way —

Complete an advanced medical education (10 years)

  1. Complete an MBBS course and get a degree (6 years)
  2. Get a Masters degree in an area of medical specialisation (2 years)
  3. Get a doctorate in the same area (2 years)

In the next round, you would go into the next level of detail for each of these. This recursive process that will eventually take you into the details of what you must do tomorrow, next week, next month and so on.

You don’t need to detail every single turn in the road or every step in your path but remember that our aim is to reach month, week and finally day level tasks and steps. I promise that you will end up with hundreds of steps. I guarantee that you will feel daunted by the sheer size and scope of what you see. But I also assure you that the feeling will pass once you move yourself into execution and the little successes start adding up.

Questions will fill your head: Are my Goals too outlandish? Will people think I’m crazy? When such questions surface,don’t let doubt or cynicism come in the way of execution. Remind yourself that the only person who has to believe in your goal and action plan is you.

Small, do-able steps: If you ask me the single most important aspect of making an Action Plan, I would say it is to give yourself small, do-able steps. Baby steps enable quick and easy wins and are the low-hanging fruits of action planning. Jessica Hardy, American competition swimmer, says, “I can reach my short-term goals on a daily or monthly basis. They make me feel better and set me up to better prepare for my long-term goals.“

Your long term goals might take your breath away and be challenging but your Action Plan should be so simple at the daily level that it is nearly impossible for you to fail. These small wins will boost your confidence and move you steadily towards your long term goals.

A 5-step process

I promised to share with you my own time-tested approach to developing an Action Plan that will work for you, so here it is in five simple steps.

1 Start with questions

The first step takes place inside your head. Look at the Goals you created in the last chapter for each of your 11 life areas and ask yourself questions: What does this Goal mean? What would it look like? What are the roads that lead up to success in this Goal? What resources would it need to achieve this Goal? How much time would it take? What other Goal might be affected if this one took longer than planned? Does some other Goal need to be achieved for this one to succeed?

As you think, without hurry, take notes on tasks, resources, limitations, synergies, time, collaborators, whatever comes to your head.

As your thinking crystallizes start listing things to do. Remember the iterative process I described earlier and allow yourself to break each list down into smaller and smaller sub-actions until you are looking at monthly, weekly and daily tasks.

Create a table similar to the one below to do this step.

Life Area

List of Things to Do













2 Identify accelerators

People who got there before you can help you hitch a ride with them and get there faster. I call them ‘accelerators’ because their experiences help accelerate your own learning curve and gets you there faster. For example, if you want to be an airline pilot, obviously someone who is already an airline pilot could teach you valuable shortcuts and time savers.

Your friend or a certified fitness coach in your local gym may guide you to optimise your health goals. Perhaps your uncle is a successful businessman and could guide you in starting and scaling up your business. Think of experts and certified professionals you already know or can access through known contacts in each area of your life areas. These are your invaluable human resources who could guide you to excel and progress in each area of your life.

When you reach the execution stage of your Action Plan, these might also be the people you reach out to for collaboration or help. And don’t forget — help is a two-way street, so give some thought to what value you could add to their life as well before expecting anything in return.

Life Area



List of People







3 Anticipate obstacles

By now you will be looking at a long list of action steps for each life area. For each step, consider what could stop you and lead to failure. Think of unexpected obstacles, setbacks, hindrances, life events that could impede your progress. You will get a lot of guidance here from the ‘accelerators’ who have made the same journey before you (see #2 above). Some not-so-obvious obstacles could include your current habits or actions that could hinder you as you move forward.

Life Area










4 List resources

Refer to your notes from #1 above when you asked yourself questions about each goal and the steps needed. What kind of resources would you need to achieve those goals by carrying out those tasks? Resources do not mean just money; they include human resources, skills, time, as well as intangibles such as mobility, reflection time, good health and so on.

Life area



(List of resources)








5 Make the Action Plan

The last step, the key step, of course, is actually writing down the Action Plan. The steps I have outlined above are enablers that help you explore and reflect upon the contours of each Goal in each life area and arrive at insights and material details that will feed into your Action Plan.

Prepare yourself for a long and detailed documents but also think of it as your operating manual. This document will guide you through many, many years of your life and take you to the places you once dreamed about.

Of course, there is one last, crucial steps — you have to carry out your plan. So —

Just do it

There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip, goes the proverb. Having an Action Plan is not the same as executing it. Your future will come alive not because you made a plan but because you carried it out.

What are some of the reasons you might fail to carry out the activities you had planned? This is how it often works: you set a goal for yourself, think about taking action towards it, then a negative emotion kicks in and you back off. Your mind starts making excuses for your lack of action with a hundreds of excuses. The reality of why you failed to take action could lie in any of the reasons below —

You did not have a well defined outcome in mind.

You did not associate massive pain with your current situation.

You were not focussed on your outcome.

You did not know what steps to take to achieve the outcome.

You were afraid to feel the emotions that arose when you started taking action so you backed off.

How can you make sure that you ‘just do it’? Here are some tips —

Don’t get distracted: One of the biggest dangers that could prevent you from carrying out your plan is what I call “chasing two rabbits”. Confucius, the Chinese wise man, apparent said once, “He who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

Let’s assume you vision in life is to help people live a healthy and long life. Based on this, your career goal is to first become a doctor and then progress towards building a state-of-the-art hospital in your state. But let’s say a part of you has always been attracted to the legal profession of your father, one of the city’s most reputed lawyers. A part of you is fascinated by the lifestyle and power of lawyers, and wants to become like them. I can guarantee that unless you deal with this distraction, you will neither be a good doctor nor a good lawyer.

Don’t procrastinate. Time gets wasted in a hundred ways, and only a few of them are things that you do. 92% of people that don’t follow through with their New Year’s resolutions, and there’s a good reason for that — they just let time slip through their fingers and don’t take action. Elsewhere in this book, I talk about the importance of to-do lists, and the great sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from seeing a list of checkmarks indicating tasks done.

Avoid time-wasters. You don’t want to surround yourself with drifters and grifters, people who will suck you into an unproductive spiral of wasted time. Socialize with brisk, focussed, productive people who are equally committed to their work and goals and you will find that your own productivity improves. You will get things done.

Weed out bad habits. From social media to socializing, from over-indulgence in television to internet browsing and everything in between, there are enough reasons to put off what needs to be done for just another five minutes. Weed out bad habits that are draining the hours from your day, and bring yourself back on track.

— Manage, track and adjust every day: As I have said before, the rules in this book are not written in stone. They are pointers and guidelines meant to help you navigate you chosen path towards your vision. However, though the end may be fixed, the road there may change as you discover what worked, what didn’t, and respond to new opportunities. A daily review of your tasks and how well you’ve achieved them will help you evaluate your progress and make course corrections if needed. Sometimes, this could mean revising parts of your Action Plan.

For example, let’s say you are in debt to the tune of $24,000 and want to be debt-free over the next year. Once you break it down into monthly goals, you may realise that this equates to $2,000 per month.

You could go even more granular. $2,000 per month translates to roughly $66 per day. Can you save this money on a daily basis, or reduce $66 in your daily spending? Perhaps you need to create a few additional income streams to achieve that daily goal.

If you see that something isn’t working out as it should, go back and tweak something. A plane might change course because of air traffic congestion, turbulence or a brewing storm, but a trained pilot will make course corrections so you he will still land the plane on the runway as scheduled at the time planned.

Let it evolve

Having goals and making a detailed plan to get you there is a phenomenal concept. But I want to remind you that no one lives well if they live by a plan on a sheet of paper. Real life is full of twists and turns, unexpected setbacks that force you to innovate and unexpected opportunities that could accelerate our growth or even change your direction entirely. It is vital that you keep yourself open to both and maintain the nimbleness to respond quickly, decisively and creatively.

Warren Buffet once said that when he see new opportunities, he loves to grab them with both hands. Be like Buffett. Bruce Lee, the Kung Fu legend, put it differently: Be like water, he said, meaning that you never change yourself to fit the shape of your circumstances.


How can you benefit from Action Planning?

Action Planning: Meaning, Benefits, Templates

August Kekulé

Top 100 Famous Inventions of all time

To-d0 Lists vs Action Plans

8 ways highly successful people plan time

Buffett’s 2014 Action Plan

How Steve Jobs took strong decisions

You must be logged in to post a comment.