Action Planning

Avatar for Hadyn Luke Hadyn Luke posted this on Tuesday 14th of November 2023 Hadyn Luke 14/11/2023


Action planning is a process that helps to focus in on the client’s ideas, and decide what are necessary to achieve the particular goals that have been set. It is a statement of what the client is expected to achieve over a given period of time, and is therefore a good way to help clients fulfil their objectives. Action planning is a recurring process, so once one cycle with a client has been completed, it can start again at the beginning. The process will have stages which will overlap, and the client’s goals may alter as they progress, therefore the plan must be re-visited and revised as circumstances dictate.

There are many different models of action planning, but the following example provides a good starting point:

The stages are as follows:

  • Where am I now? This is where the client’s achievements and progress are reviewed, and they undertake self-assessment.
  • Where do I want to be? This is where goals are decided and agreed
  • How do I get there? This is where the strategy to achieve their goals is defined, and the overall goal is broken down into smaller, more achievable goals.
  • Taking This is where the plan is implemented
  • Where am I now? The cycle starts again

The main steps in preparing an action plan are as follows:

  • Have a clear objective – e. ‘Where do I want to be?” In order to be motivating a goal needs to be challenging enough to stimulate the client, but not so difficult to be demoralising. A goal should be set just outside a client’s comfort zone, stretching them past what they are normally used to, but not highly stressful.
  • List the benefits a client would gain by achieving their goal – identify the positive outcomes of achieving their goals.
  • Start with what action can be taken NOW – there is no point in having an action plan that will start in six months time, so identify steps that can be taken straight away.
  • Clearly define the steps that will be taken – e. “How do I get there?” Think of all the possible things that can be done to help a client become closer to achieving their goal, no matter how small. Break down any large steps into smaller components, so the final goal does not seem so difficult to achieve. Identify what the biggest obstacles are and any potential problems, and plan how to overcome these.
  • Identify the end point for each step and reward – clearly define the end point for each step and reward a client for achieving it. This could include sweets, clothes, a gadget, book, a CD or meal out with friends depending on the client.
  • Arrange the steps in a logical, chronological order – try to set weekly goals, and set a date to start and end each step in chronological order. Consider if the client’s plans are attainable, and also what would happen if they failed to achieve their goals. Try to map out several paths to their goal, so then if one becomes blocked another is available. People tend to strongly underestimate how long results will take so it is important to think about the type of problems you might encounter at each step, and how they could be overcome. Always try to concentrate 10% on the problem, and 90% on the Try to turn every problem into a challenge, and every challenge into an opportunity.
  • Review client progress – asking a client to keep a diary or blog of their daily activities and record their progress as things happen can help keep a plan as concrete as possible. A good time to start a review is about two weeks after the client has begun the Review how far they have got towards their objective, identify any exercise methods that are not working, and look at any new exercises or methods that could be introduced. The programme can then be revised if necessary to reflect the outcomes of the review.
  • Arrange support – encourage a client to tell their friends and family about their goals and mix with positive people who will encourage them to keep This will provide support when the going gets tough and give them an incentive to keep going.

Promoting Autonomy and Interdependence (relational skills)

Participant autonomy is a characteristic that encourages the participant to be an active participant and manager of their own learning and exercise/physical activity skills. In order to improve quality of life it is important that strategies are implemented to allow them to have a greater control over their own exercise programme, whether they train in a gym environment or at home. It is important to promote interdependence, rather than dependence on their personal trainer, family and friends.

Problem Solving Strategies to Identify Barriers

Understanding any problems the client may have is very important, but is often neglected. In order to help identify and solve possible barriers/problems it is important to ask the appropriate questions.

For example:

  • What are you hoping to achieve?
  • Can you identify the barriers yourself?
  • Can you think of a resolution to your barriers and how we can overcome them?
  • Is there enough information to enable you to find a solution?
  • Do you understand all the strategies which can be implemented?
  • Do you need to ask any more questions?

Increase Confidence

Helping a client to increase their confidence can be a huge battle. Begin by giving as much positive feedback and praise as possible, and setting goals that the client can achieve easily. If a client starts to feel better, and others start to compliment them on the way they look, this will increase self-confidence. The client will therefore be more likely to carry on with the exercise session and continue to reap the rewards.

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