Taking action is one of the most necessary steps in effectuating life changes. However, as most of us know, sometimes it is very difficult to take that first step and commit to a desired achievement.
So what do you need to do in order to take action?
Motivation, you might say.
But, not so fast! There is a misconception that motivation is the reason for taking action. The truth of the matter is that motivation is the result of action, not its cause. Thus, you don’t need to wait to feel inspired before you implement a new behavior. You can immediately begin by gathering your willpower (a strong self-control determination that allows you to do something difficult) and stop procrastinating.
No doubt, you already know well how to schedule actions, including the ones you have been procrastinating about. The question is, what’s holding you back from scheduling a time to start your action?
The key is to think about motivation as the desired outcome for completing a procrastinated action. In other words, motivation is the last step, not the first.
Asking yourself the following three questions may help you analyze your motivation in order to achieve a desired outcome:
- What is my main reason for completing the task?
- How will it make me feel when it’s finally done?
- How will it improve my life?
Or, you might choose to look at it like this:
Desired Goal > Positive Change > Clear Plan > Committed Action > Desired Outcome.
In my previous article, I talked about the difference between making a choice and making a decision. If you make a decision from a place of choice, you can create a positive change that’s aligned with your life priorities while making a clear commitment to accomplishing a desired goal. When you have the desire to make a change, it becomes a goal. The next challenge is to follow through and complete this goal.
How often do you hear someone say they’ve been wanting to change their career for years, but haven’t done anything about it? Why have they been unable to convert this desired change into a goal? There is one obvious reason and one hidden one. Those reasons are:
- A lack of self-discipline to stay persistent in achieving a goal.
- Low-self-efficacy, which is the hidden disbelief that you can complete a goal before you even start making baby steps toward it.
First, let’s talk about self-discipline: the initial obstacle in not converting a desired change into a goal.
Time management and persistence are two types of fuel for cultivating self-discipline. If you waste time and allow yourself to get distracted in progressing toward your desired goal, you welcome unsuccessful habits instead of successful ones and instill those bad habits in your modus operandi. You change your modus operandi and sustain your perseverance by willfully and methodically focusing your thoughts and energy on the goal at hand.
Your choice is whether to demonstrate excellent or mediocre behavior. Are you going to have a successful or an average life? If you choose excellence, you have to fight mediocrity and commit yourself to excellence. Sometimes, being aware of what you don’t want in life makes your self-discipline sustainable over the long haul.
Second, let’s talk about low self-efficacy, which is another obstacle in converting your desired change into a goal.
Self-efficacy is the strength of your belief in your ability to achieve goals. In its negative form, it is a dark, hidden, normalizing behavioral pattern of giving up on your desired goals before you even start. The beliefs that you have about your abilities shape your entire life. If you have low self-efficacy, you don’t believe that you can achieve your dreams, and you have probably led yourself to live a humdrum life instead of realizing your full potential.
People with high self-efficacy approach challenging tasks as things they can master. People with low self-efficacy avoid challenges and rarely commit to their life goals. They are reluctant to take the necessary actions toward a desired change. They don’t believe that change is even possible, so they give up before they even start. They go round and round the goal with their eyes fixated on the ground without even looking up to all that could be, high above them. The antidote for low self-efficacy is to identify the disempowering self-limiting belief that keeps you far away from a desired outcome.
Thus, here is a committed action plan that successful people practice weekly:
- Identify a clear reason for a desired goal.
- See this desired outcome as a positive change.
- Develop a routine of self-discipline, very consciously focusing on progressing toward your desired goal and not regressing.
- Use time management; prioritize your goal progression daily by staying persistent in choosing your desired outcome again and again.
- Increase your self-efficacy by:
- Recognizing that it is your limiting beliefs that are slowing you down and impeding your progress toward your desired goals.
- Replacing your limiting beliefs with a new, powerful belief.
- Assess the clarity of your plan to achieve a desired action, and write down the action plan with specifics and completion dates.
- Commit to your daily action plan progression by setting morning intentions with priorities to achieve the action steps and evening reflections analyzing the completion steps.
- Find a partner to share your daily goal’s progress with.
- Reward yourself weekly for staying on track.
- Repeat items 1-8.
Now you know the secret routine of successful people. It’s up to you to let your desired outcomes shine and infuse your life with actions. Remember, in order to win, you need to start and progress daily in life!
No race was ever won without a beginning!
This article was originally published in Forbes.
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