Brief Action Planning (BAP) is a tool that is often used by healthcare professionals or clinical counsellors when helping clients to set goals – usually in the health arena.  The BAP tool is applied when people are ready and indicating a desire to make a change and usually the focus are around lifestyle changes for physical or mental health improvements.  BAP is based on the principles and practice of Motivational Interviewing and is supported by evidence from behavioural science and self-management support.

As the name of the tool indicates the change in behaviour (or challenge) is BRIEF (meaning over a short time frame i.e. “for the next 2 weeks” rather than some undefined period of time.

The ACTION is clearly defined with simple parameters and always avoiding a vague commitment i.e “I will walk for 35 minutes 4 days a week” instead of “I want to start walking again”.

Therein from the specific PLANNING comes the success of utilizing this tool!  The planning is all about obvious barriers that would inhibit success and ensure that the action is attainable, realistic, and supported.  The plan is specific “I’m going to walk with my friend Shirley who has been asking me for months to go with her, and I can go on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays after work at 5:00 pm and on Saturdays at 2:00 pm because of my work schedule and also my husband’s work schedule and these times also work because the kids are at music/hockey/basketball etc and I’m free”!

The idea is that the person/client is the centre of the decision making; the person is the only driver of the goal setting and the professional is their decision making assistant; the now out-dated (and most often unsuccessful) practice had the ‘expert’ leading and setting the goals for clients.  Most often the practitioner-led goal setting leads to frustration with little buy-in from anyone with very low success rates. In stark contrast the client-led goal setting leads to substantially higher buy-in, realistic attainable goals and positive self-esteem building AKA “SUCCESS”!


One thing that most psychologists know is that success in one area of life spreads to opportunities for more success into other areas.  DARREN HARDY (YES that Darren Hardy the founding editor and former publisher of Success Magazine)calls it the “Compound Effect” (a book we highly recommend), within which he describes how you can ‘multiply your success one simple step at a time’.

The idea of BAP interventions was originally developed for professionals working with clients.  Again, the goals were simple, set for a small time-frame with a short check-in period for follow up (typically around 2 weeks) and specific details are required when making the plan.  The research illustrates that with setting and achieving small, simple goals a person’s attitude, self-esteem and outlook dramatically increases!  And it all starts from the first supported goal.


We propose that the average person can create simple, smart goals for themselves and attain success one simple step at a time.

Select a brief time period – we suggest 2 weeks

Define the specific action – we suggest simple and attainable

Be meticulous as possible in the planning – how long, with whom, where, how often and why you know this will work!


We challenge you:

Look at one specific area of your life and challenge yourself