How to Accomplish Any Goal with an Action Plan

Nicole Goss, trainer at the JBER-Elmendorf Fitness Center, offers tips on setting SMART fitness goals and staying motivated (Photo by: Nicole Goss).

If anyone has the answer to the age-old question, “how do I motivate myself to achieve my goals,” please share it as it seems effortless for some, but near impossible for others.  

Maybe it is not an issue of motivation at all but one of action. Sometimes waiting for motivation (or inspiration) is a mistake. The best course of action is often “fake it till you make it.”  To take any motivation to the next level requires a series of making decisions to take action, then taking action – repeatedly even when you do not feel like it.

Decisions Start Actions – Actions Build Habits

You are one decision and one habit away from reaching your goal:  a decision to start a new habit and the action of breaking an old habit. Typically, success comes down to two habits: one you have to start and one you have to stop. The decision of doing so and the action to begin is where the magic happens.

Below are some common challenges and goals many people seek to accomplish with some helpful solutions and strategies to take action and build a new good habit and break an old habit:

Junk Food / Over Eating – Making the decision to stop eating too much and the daily action of breaking the bad habit of eating junk food is very common. In fact, many people say they are going to start a more disciplined eating routine every day, fail, and try again the next day. Never really making any strides in the process. Keeping from failing on this journey is to make the decision just like every other time, but add the new habit of writing down everything you eat or drink. You will find that the added step of having to write it down will not only produce a form of discipline and help you not eat the craving, but will also allow for you to find the holes in your diet.  This action of writing down the food and drink calories during meals, snacks, and drinks will help you in more ways than one:  make you more disciplined and make you smarter with your food choices at the very moment of the decision to eat or not eat a particular food / drink that is hurting your success with healthful eating or weight loss.

The decision to start “watching what you eat” and reducing large portions consistently is a habit most of us find challenging, but the successful side of stopping this bad habit will yield results in health, fitness performance, and aesthetics.

School or Work Goals – Depending on your future education or work goals, it will likely require a significant amount of time and effort training, studying, attending classes, and performing at a level that is satisfactory or competitive.  Daily action is required.  Deciding to get up every day and be one step closer to graduating or getting into a challenging program requires consistent action. However, you have to be smart and recognize that your mental and physical well-being during what can be a highly stressful training process is reliant on your ability to recover.  Eating well, sleeping well, exercising to reduce stress, and learning recovery techniques will benefit you when the days are long and the to-do list is even longer.  Time management and habit-forming have to take place early in the process in order to not fall too far behind the power curve.  Training On a Busy Schedule - Balance

Starting a Fitness Plan – Set a time in each day to do some form of activity.  Even if this activity is walking for 10-15 minutes – do it. Build the habit of taking time for yourself and moving more.  This will progress into more activity, feeling better, weight loss, and will likely evolve into actually working out. But to decide to move more has to be put into action on a consistent level in order to build the habit.  Once you do this for 3-4 weeks, you will find that you have created a new habit, feel better, maybe lose some inches and pounds. Depending upon your fitness level and goals, the movement can vary significantly, but the process of starting at a regular time for a particular amount of time will build the habit.  Missing these activities/workouts – also builds a habit (not a good one).

About Consistent Action – The Path Toward Success or Mediocrity

You making strides toward your goal will actually require daily decisions.  In fact, the daily struggle of hundreds of decisions is required to take action each day.  You will decide to take action or not and build the habit on the journey of success.  Or you will build the habit of missing the activity that is going to get you to your goal. Regardless – it is your decision to take action or not.  This is an execution at the most basic level – building persistence and discipline. Once you accept the idea that you will NOT give in to missing an action day, you will avoid failure and the path towards mediocrity.

Time Will Tell

The days, months, and years will eventually reveal how important the decision made today will shape our lives. Deciding to do something is different than taking the action and making yourself better through persistent efforts to accomplish that goal, but it is the first step.  If you start today, in one year, you will be a different person and maybe have created a better life for yourself.

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