We’ve all been there. We get motivated to accomplish a goal, and we feel like we’re making real progress for the first few days.
However, after a week or two we notice that our motivation fades and with that, so do our efforts. Our progress tails off and eventually, we may quit altogether.
This is something that we need to avoid if we want to accomplish our goals. We can’t fall into some of the common traps that the average person falls into.
So, in this article, I am going to cover how you can take action toward your goals and get yourself to where you truly want to be in your life.
1. Define Your Dream
The first secret when you want to start taking action on your dreams is to know what they are. This sounds obvious, but so many people only have a loose definition, such as: “more free time,” or “more money.” Busy people know there is something else to life apart from slaving away for a job, or a boss they don’t like, but if you’re too busy to even know what your dream looks like, how can you make it come true?
Once again, I’d invite you to connect to the optimism and playfulness of your childhood self. Go back to thinking about what your dreams involved at age seven or eight. Some of those may still be what you want today.
Now, write down what it is that you want and when you want to achieve it. Note down how you’ll know when you’ve got there and made this dream come true. How will you measure your success? Be as specific about your goals as you can.
A study at the Dominican University in California proved that writing down your goals, accountability, and commitment are three key ingredients to successfully achieving our goals and learning how to take action.
2. Picture Your Dream Coming True
Think about exactly how it will feel when you start taking action and ultimately achieve your dream, the sense of freedom and excitement. Imagine it in as much detail as you can with all five senses. If you’re finding it hard to imagine a different life, imagine a childhood memory with all its sensations.
As a little girl, I loved to ice-skate, making huge swirly patterns across clean expanses of beautiful glistening ice. The feeling of freedom, of trust in myself to balance, of speed. It felt very immersive, the coldness and my breath turning into little clouds in front of my face.
Imagine a childhood memory like this, and then imagine the future you want, with as much detail and attention paid to how it looks, feels, tastes, smells, and sounds.
Draw, paint, speak, or write your future story.
If you loved to create pictures like I did as a child, or write stories, or play on the computer, use your natural creative skills and what you love doing to map out your exciting future. You could create a picture, vision board, written story, or audio file.
Then, let’s put that future story somewhere you can easily access it. Make sure that you include a timescale for when you want to achieve this dream by, how you will measure your success, and what you need to get there. If possible, start breaking your dream down into small, manageable steps.
3. Ensure Your Dream Is Realistic
Maybe the dream you’ve outlined just feels impossible. It costs too much or will take too much time to achieve. Instead of telling yourself “no, but,” try the “yes, and” approach. This is much more representative of how a child’s mind works.
When we were little, we weren’t scared to fail, as failing was not a concept to us back then. Let’s harness some of that kid energy and see how “yes, and” can move us forward when our dream feels unrealistic.
Let’s look at an example: maybe your dream is to have a hit record, and you think you can’t sing, or you don’t believe you have any musical talent. Instead of closing that down, if we “yes, and” it, we can say: “I want to have a hit record. Yes, and there are so many ways to achieve that. Some people have a hit record by working for a music business, and others might design the cover art. Some people speak on records instead of singing… yes, and someone has to write the lyrics or have the idea for the song. Yes, and I know someone who organizes a choir every Christmas at their local bar, and everyone in the bar is on the record. That amateur choir even got on TV as it was so much fun and all the money went to charity.”
So, before you decide your idea is unrealistic, try “yes, and-ing” it to see how you can start taking action on your dreams, even if you think it sounds impossible!
What Part Do You Play?
You can’t control everything, so you need to be realistic about your role in taking action and making your future dreams come true. Think about where you need help. During childhood, we were not afraid to ask for help from a parent, friend, or sibling to realize our dreams and plans.
Whatever we needed, our eager and enthusiastic childhood selves would reach out for support. We’d be resourceful with whatever we had to make our creative ideas a reality.
As adults we also need to ask for support and help, and at the same time to notice what is in our control and what we can do to take action today towards our dreams.
Who Can Support You?
If you’ve noticed you need a bit of help, then get your tribe together. Which friends can cheer you on, and which can connect you? Who in your family will indulge in your dreams with you? What about the pragmatic ones who might help you work out what you need to get there?
Whether you need someone to check in on you and see how you’re progressing, or need a buddy to brainstorm with to help the ideas flow, bring a few of your friends into the plan to help you move forward. Successful people know that the habit of taking action is best built with help.
4. Study Those Who Came Before You
A little motivation never hurt anybody right?
On top of that, studying the people who previously accomplished the goal that you’re looking to accomplish can save you a lot of headaches in the long-run.
From these practices, you can begin to determine what challenges the person faced when they started to take action towards their goals. Furthermore, you can also gather information about what strategies they used to overcome those challenges.
Though what worked for someone else may not work exactly the same way for you, it’s definitely a good starting point. From this point, you can then begin to create and tailor your strategy based on the path that you want to take.
Once you know what path you want to take, you can begin mentally preparing yourself to take action.
5. Mentally Prepare Yourself
There are a lot of traps we can fall into as we try to take action towards our goals. The first one is failing to mentally prepare ourselves for the journey.
Doing this means that you need to be able to visualize the obstacles and challenges that are going to confront you when you begin taking action and making progress. It also means that you can visualize yourself accomplishing the goal at the end of the journey.
Think about it this way, who do you think is more likely to overcome a challenge, the person who just dives into a task without any preparation or the person who has taken some to carefully consider the challenges and obstacles that they may face?
Obviously, the person who has taken the time to consider these challenges is more likely to succeed. But why?
Well, the answer to that question is that this individual has mentally prepared themselves for the challenges that they were likely to face. That way, when they begin to take action towards their goal, they have two crucial advantages in their back pocket.
First, these individuals know that these challenges are likely going to present themselves and that they will need to overcome them to achieve their goals. This means that they won’t be surprised or get negative when the obstacle presents itself because they already mentally prepared for it. They can continue taking action without being phased by the obstacle.
Second, because they knew this challenge was something that they were going to have to face, they will have been able to make a plan to cope with and overcome the challenge. This goes a long way to helping someone continually take action towards their goals.
6. Make a Plan
After you’ve studied what other people have done before you, figured out what works and what does, decided what’s likely to work for you, and then finally mentally prepared yourself for the journey, it’s time to make a plan.
This is the plan that you will follow as you begin to take action towards your goals. It’s often best to write these plans out in areas that are easy for you to view and access. This keeps your plan at the forefront of your mind and reminds you to keep your priorities at the top of your priority list.
In this phase of your journey, you are going to create a step-by-step progression that you can follow. You’ll set the mini accomplishments throughout the journey as well as the milestones that you’ll achieve and surpass along the way.
You’ll also write down the challenges and obstacles that you mentally prepared yourself for in the previous steps and what your plan is to overcome them.
This can get overwhelming when it’s all done at once, so break your plan down into sections. Start with a section outlining the steps you’re going to take action on to accomplish your goals, and include the milestone you’ll pass in this process. Then, create a separate section where you outline the barriers and challenges you’ll face and how to overcome them.
Overall, just make sure that the plan makes sense for you personally.
Once you’ve created a plan, your next step is to figure out how you can begin tracking your progress as you begin to take action.
If you want more help with this check out this article.
7. Track Yourself and Your Progress
Once you’ve created your personalized plan that you can use to take action, you should try to find ways to track your progress.
How you do this doesn’t really matter. You could create a habit tracker where you track the habits that you need to implement to achieve your goal. You could create a map of your milestones that you check off as you accomplish each of them. You could also even download an app that could enable you to track your progress with ease.
Just do something that makes sense to you.
This allows you to figure out what’s working best for you and what isn’t working, and make adjustments accordingly. This is the crucial reason why we track our progress as we take action towards our goals.
Because it’s highly unlikely, regardless of how well you prepare, that the initial plan you create will get everything right. There will be things you didn’t think about and you will have to remain adaptable. Tracking your progress will enable you to do just that.
You’ll be able to take action and identify what habits allow you to make the most progress.
They say 20% of the things we dedicate our time to bring about approximately 80% of our results. If that’s the case, tracking your progress like this will help you figure out what moves that needle you and then adjust your plan accordingly.
If you want additional tips on staying motivated check out this article.
8. Make it Fun and Stay Motivated
This is one of the more fun parts of learning how to take action towards your goals. If you want to make real progress, you have to make achieving the goal fun. Find ways that make it appealing to you.
For example, a reward system is often a good way to make taking action fun, and it’s a great way for us to remain motivated. This could be a small and fun reward after accomplishing a particular habit, such as going for a walk after writing a few pages of that book you’ve been working on forever.
You can very easily apply this to your goals as you take action.
Make a particular habit that you’re implementing as you work towards a goal something that you regularly reward yourself for. If your goal is to jog, maybe reward yourself with some relaxation time post-run. If your goal is to eat healthier, maybe go out for a fun activity after a week of healthy eating.
Get creative and make it fun for you.
Doing this will help you stick with it through the tough times because there will be tough times. You’re going to be challenged on this journey, and that is the only thing that you can be sure of.
So, finding ways to stay motivated while you take action will go a long way to helping you continually take action towards your goals.
So there you have it. Used effectively, these strategies will help you to take action towards some of your massive goals.
To sum things up, you’re going to study what people before you have done to accomplish similar goals and learn about their journey. Then, you’re going to mentally prepare yourself for the journey that is going to lay ahead of you as well as the challenges and barriers that you’re likely going to have to face, confront, and overcome.
Following that, you will have to create the plan you will follow as you take action. The important part of this is to remember that your plan has to be uniquely tailored to you and what you want to accomplish.
Find a way that works for you to track your progress so that you can figure out what works and what doesn’t, and invest more of your time and energy into the things that are working for you as you take action.
Then finally, make it fun for yourself so that you stay motivated to continue working even through the tough times.
Featured photo credit: Brad Neathery via unsplash.com
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