Here’s a paradox you may have felt before, but maybe haven’t untangled: You have goals, dreams and plans, but sometimes these objectives mix with indecision, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Independently, each one of these feelings can weigh you down and delay action. Taken together, these feelings can incapacitate you, drowning you in inaction and fear of consequences. And as a result, you haven’t taken a single step toward achieving your goals, dreams, and plans.
Why do so many people who have big dreams, practical goals and unrelenting hope often tread water?
First, we as humans are often afraid of change.
Second, we often don’t know how to make a decision, especially when there are so many options.
Third, fear. Fear of taking a risk, making a mistake, failing. That Gremlin voice rearing its head again.
Taking action can outweigh concerns about failure, and it can really be as simple as breaking your goals down into manageable steps. Once you have a plan in place you can start checking the boxes toward accomplishing your goal.
You just have to take a deep breath, and be ready to jump in and do some work. You ready?
Here are the three steps to take you from stagnation to action:
#1 Make a decision!:
It can be hard to pull the trigger. Maybe you’re weighing a job change, a change of location, a relationship change, or the destination for a long weekend. From major to minor choices, a decision-making delay reduces your options, and you might miss out. Plus, you won’t know if you’re going in the right direction until you take the first step.
Write/talk it out. I process verbally, so when faced with a big decision, my first step is to call those closest in my network to discuss the pros and cons of my decision. Ultimately, it’s my choice to make, but often my support system asks me questions I haven’t thought of or wanted to admit out loud. For some people, they prefer to write out the pros and cons. Making lists, writing down whether or not your decision aligns with your values, how it might make you feel etc. can help get you out of your own head and move you to action.
Learn to trust your gut and listen to your instincts. Easier said than done. Our gut is a guide - use it to figure out the best path. But you have to be tuned in for it to matter. Often, when you start to articulate decisions you want to make, you will feel your gut telling you what to do. It’s the clench of the stomach or the flutter of excitement. If you are struggling with listening and connecting with your gut, meditation can help tune you into your thoughts and feelings. More on the benefits of meditation to come….
Watch out for the ‘paralysis by analysis’ trap. Between a surplus of options, fear of consequences, and natural self-doubt, it can be easy to justify inaction. Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of the good. Once you’ve done your diligence, stop weighing options, looking for excuses or worrying about making a mistake. Even if you find yourself in a less than optimal situation, there are learnings to be had and options to adjust. You might just find a better opportunity through exploration and action!
Let go of guilt and regret. Getting caught up in the feelings of guilt and regret is unproductive. These feelings drain you of energy, opportunity and hold you back. Don’t create scenarios of regret before you even start living.
#2: Commit to the decision!
Once you’ve made your decision, it’s time to commit to making it a reality.
Take a concrete step. Get out the pen and paper. Buy a new planner. Set up a Google calendar. Create reminders on your phone. The best way to commit to making your decision a reality is to take some time to plan out your approach. Break your plan it into steps, write them out, and have someone hold you accountable for every step of the way. For example, if you want to switch careers but aren’t sure you’re qualified, figure out how to meet the qualifications. Don’t hesitate to take a certificate class to learn the basics of a new skill, or brush up on old ones! Or, if you’re committing to a new workout regime, you can join an online community, commit your schedule to your calendar and start taking classes with your friends. The buddy system works great for accountability!
Be patient. You have to work for your dreams and goals over time. As my friend’s dad used to say, “if it was easy, everyone would do it.” Learn to be patient. Break your goals into milestones to celebrate, so you feel the achievement even as you move toward your ultimate objective. Every every box you check is taking you one step closer. When you experience moments of doubt, look back at all of your progress. Take a breath. Celebrate the fact that you are making changes and making moves toward your future. It’s ok that it takes time.
Be open to compromise and flexibility. There’s always an unforeseen variable to pop up. You might feel like you’re thrown off track, when in reality this shift presents a different opportunity. Learn to be open to changes and embrace curve balls. Find the opportunities and gifts in them, and don't get bogged down if your plan misfires. Life is not constant, it is moving and changing at all times. Learn to compromise, be flexible and adapt to meet obstacles head on.
#3 Be open to the outcome, especially success!
You would be surprised by the number of people who are afraid to succeed. Learn to welcome the success you’ve worked to achieve!
Recognize the work you’ve done to make even small changes. It started out as a big decision weighing you down, thoughts stuck in your head, indecision leaving you paralyzed. Butttttt, you worked the decision out. Made a choice and created a plan. Stuck to the plan and step-by-step, worked your ass off to reach your goal. Now you’ve made it! You scored that new job, decided to start your own business, moved to a new city where you don't know anyone, left that relationship that was full of red flags, decided to travel to a foreign country where you didn’t speak the language…. Whatever the decision you made, you committed, planned and worked to get where you are now. Be proud.
Celebrate!!!! You did it! Even if the outcome is different than imagined, you still moved your life forward (and probably learned a lot about yourself in the process). Make sure to take a few moments and celebrate your successes.
Time to make a new decision…..dream up a new plan…..set out on a new adventure to achieve the next goal…..!
While these steps make sense as you read through them, it can still be hard to make them a reality. And I get it, I really do. I struggled debating whether or not becoming a life coach was the right path. Was it worth it to pursue a coaching certificate, juggling coursework and my day job, not to mention the financial burden when I had a stable career in my current field? After going through the steps above, it’s my chance to celebrate the fact that becoming a life coach represents one of the best decisions of my life. But it took a lot of research, talking to family, friends and coworkers, soul-searching and really, truly listening to my gut. Once I jumped in, I found a whole new world, mindset and career path worthy of my investment. And now here I am, building my own coaching business from the ground up. Admittedly, sometimes I experience moments of doubt, but never regret.
If you need help getting your life on track, finding purpose and meaning, getting your butt in gear to get moving again….I strongly suggest finding a coach to talk to. They will help you determine your values and strengths. Teach you have to listen to your instincts. Support you in making plans, and hold you accountable to action.