This site uses cookies to store information on your computer. I'm fine with this Cookie information
Cookie Control

Goals and Action Plans


Setting a goal helps people to identify what they want to achieve and is the first step towards translating intention into action. 

An action plan identifies what steps are needed to get there by breaking it down into achievable chunks.

Make a SMART action plan


  • What are you going to do?
  • How are you going to do it?
  • Where are you going to do it?
  • When are you going to do it?
  • With whom are you going to do it?


  • Making your goal specific means it should be easy to measure whether or not the patient achieves their goal


  • Set goals that are within the patient’s reach
  • Failing to achieve a goal can have a negative effect on the patient’s motivation to work towards their goal


  • Does your patient think the goal is relevant to them?
  • It is important the patient can see a clear link between their goal and how this will impact on the aspects of their health well-being that are important to them


  • Is the goal the right thing for your patient to achieve right now?
  • If so set a time frame in which the goal can be achieved
  • Perhaps consider setting mini goals so that the patient takes smalls steps to achieving a more ambitious goal

Explore Importance, Confidence and Barriers

  • Check importance and confidence using scaling questions
    • People are most likely to successfully undertake the action and achieve their goal if their confidence is 7 or greater.
  • Explore and barriers and identify steps to mitigate these.

Some example of questions to help make a SMART plan

  • What, specifically, would you like to be different?”
  • “What, specifically, could you do to get started?”
  • “If the first step is successful, then what?”
  • “Who else could you ask for support, if anyone? What could you ask for?”
  •  “What might get in the way of this plan? How could you overcome these?”
  • “What would be the signs that things are going well?”
  •  “How would you know if you were off-track?”
  • “What would you do if you were off-track?”

Click here for a goal setting tool which you may find useful.

For more information about goal setting and action planning see Health Foundation Practitioner Development Programme