If you’ve got a dream you’re hoping to bring to life or an idea that you want to manifest, hopefully, the tips below can help. If some of the steps don’t feel like a good fit for you, that’s OK. Feel free to take what’s helpful and ignore the rest.
SMART goals are Specific, Meaningful, Achievable, Realistic, and Trackable. If our goal is not SMART, it may be harder to take action. For example, if our goal is not specific enough, we might not know what to do to reach it. Or, if our goal is not meaningful enough, then we might have a hard time staying motivated enough to do it.
So, before taking action, ask yourself these “SMART” questions:
- What exactly is your goal?
- Why does this goal matter to you?
- Who is involved in this goal?
- How will you achieve this goal?
- What specific times will you work on this goal?
Once you know your goal, write down the steps you plan to take to reach it. The more detail you can include, the better. For example, if you want to write a book, make a plan for exactly how many pages you plan to write per hour, day, week, or month. Note any other related tasks that will need to be done as well so that you know what needs to be accomplished to reach your goal.
Once you have your action steps, schedule each of them in your calendar. Block out enough time for each action step. As you are getting started, you might not estimate quite right, so it’s OK to modify this at any point.
Another helpful tip is to try and schedule a blank time to catch up on things you missed or anything that took longer than expected. In time, you’ll be able to estimate task time more easily.
If you have a realistic plan with clear action steps, then you’re ready to commit to your goal. By making a commitment—either a written or verbal commitment will do—we actually make it more likely that we’ll do something. One way to do this can be to write up a statement of the efforts you agree to complete and then sign it. Post it somewhere where you’ll see it frequently.
Once you’ve gotten started taking actions to manifest your goal, you’ll eventually encounter challenges, even if just small ones. This is why it can be helpful to create implementation intentions (Gollwitzer, 1999). Implementation intentions are simple cause-and-effect: If problem situation X happens, then I will do Y.
Taking action on your goals should push you out of your comfort zone a bit. But if taking action towards your goals means that you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, then it is likely not sustainable. Here are some tips to avoid overwhelm:
Rather than trying to aim for 100 percent all the time, set a secondary goal to complete your action steps some percentage of the time. Eighty percent feels right to me. Missing your goals sometimes is totally normal, so being realistic about it can help you practice more self-compassion.
It can actually be helpful to let yourself off the hook every now and then. Especially for those perfectionists out there, a break will probably do you more good than you realize.
Sometimes we set goals that are too easy, too hard, or need to be changed to be effective moving forward. Remember, it’s OK to change your plan.
Taking action is an essential part of reaching any goal. But it is often the hardest part. Hopefully, these resources will help you feel more confident that you can successfully take action and reach your goals.
- Gollwitzer, P. M. (1999). Implementation intentions: strong effects of simple plans. American psychologist, 54(7), 493.