“I’m living in a real-life groundhogs day?” is my first thought as I begin another bleary-eyed morning, puttering around trying to muster up the energy to do something. The ideas fly around in my head like busy cars through a spaghetti junction; it feels crowded and chaotic. My attempts to grab onto an idea and hold it long enough to do something are futile.
Before I knew what hit me, I’ve thrown on my Sweatpants, turned on the TV, become mentally exhausted, and have started battling the waves of remorse—all before noon. Sounds familiar?
Everyone gets stuck in a rut from time to time. While it looks different for each of us, it can manifest in our thoughts like this: “Man I have so much stuff to do right now….but I really don’t know where to start,” or “Gosh I really need to get to work on these projects, but I really don’t have the juice to get going.”
The combined self-doubt and guilt that results from knowing that you should be taking action but aren’t can be paralyzing. The only way to climb out of your rut is to start taking action towards your goals right now.
But how to take action towards your goals?
Here are 6 steps to help you climb out of that rut and take action on your goals right now.
1. Reconnect With Your Goal
What are you actually trying to accomplish? Be specific.
Are you trying to get a raise, promotion, new job offer, create a new product, change your diet, expand your business, or establish a new habit?
It can be difficult to get focused enough to take action if you have forgotten exactly what it is that you are trying to do.
Take a moment and visualize your goal:
See yourself accomplishing it—what is the experience like, how do you feel as you are working towards it, what obstacles do you see coming up?
Think about how it will feel once you accomplish it—remind yourself what you have to gain from accomplishing this goal as well as what’s at stake if you don’t accomplish it.
Taking a moment to reflect on these important questions will help to reorient and ground you.
2. Identify Your Why
What is the reason you want to achieve this goal? You will often hear this referred to as your “Big Why.” Identifying your WHY is the key to getting out of the rut and unlocking your ability to take action towards your goals.((PsychologyToday: How To Take Action When You Don’t Wanna))
You need a deep understanding of your WHY to do what it takes to reach the finish line. It is the reason that you are able to commit your time, effort, and resources to accomplish this goal even when things are not going as planned.
Not sure what your “WHY” is? Take some time to brainstorm all the reasons you want to accomplish the goal. You may come across some that are obvious but superficial reasons, like making money or buying that house you always wanted. Those reasons are not your “WHY”.
Instead, think about why you want to make money or buy that house: Is it because you want to provide a strong future for your family? Are you someone who wants to give back to the community? Are you deeply connected to helping other people succeed? Do you want to effect change in the world? The deeper reason is your “WHY”.
Once you identify your “WHY”, it is easier to find the energy to get motivated and take necessary action.
3. Make It Real, Write It Down
When you write your goals down, you are 42% more likely to achieve them.((Inc.: This Is the Way You Need to Write Down Your Goals for Faster Success)) When you write things down, you’re forced to think about them. The visual representation of your goal serves as a reminder whenever you lose focus and a point of orientation when you feel lost.
Lastly from a learning perspective, your brain may respond better to the physical activity of writing the goal than the abstract activity of contemplating the goal.
Take the time to write down your goals. Here’s how:
Decide if you want to focus on quarterly or monthly goals.
Identify the projects and resources necessary to accomplish that goal.
Break those projects up into a chronology of tasks.
Allow those tasks to become your weekly goals. Write them down at the beginning of each week.
Use your weekly goals to inform your daily goals. Each morning, check in with your daily goals.
At first, it can take a while because you’re not used to putting them down on paper. Be patient and keep at it. Over time, these practices will become much easier, and you’ll eventually learn to take action toward your goals.
4. Tell a Friend
Sometimes the best thing you can do is tell on yourself. When you share your goals with others, it allows you to hold yourself accountable in a new way. You are more likely to take action toward your goal if you know that your friend will be following up with you about it.
One way to do this is to recruit an accountability partner. Someone who you know is also working on achieving goals that might be similar to yours or facing similar challenges on their success journey. You can set up a time once a week or once every other week to check-in and share your progress.
You would be surprised how much insight, inspiration, and motivation comes from partnering up with someone else who is hard at work trying to accomplish their goals, too. Not only will you get the benefit of being held accountable, but you will also get the opportunity to exercise your active listening and problem-solving skills as you help to hold your friend accountable.
5. Anticipate the Internal Push Back
It’s not easy to leave your comfort zone. It’s cozy and safe. But nothing great ever came from playing it safe. Our species has evolved by taking risks.
So, what happens when you want to take new action but you’re already in the comfort zone of inaction? There is a total internal freakout.
Yet, if you know it’s going to happen, it’s less unsettling. It’s like when you get a tattoo or a piercing, you know it’s going to hurt so you mentally prepare yourself to push through it anyway.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to handle the internal push back you will experience.
Meditation, Yoga, Mantra, and Mindfulness practices are great ways to start to tune-in to yourself. YogaGlo, Insight Timer, Headspace, The Chopra Centers Website, and IanBoccio.com are great places to explore these concepts more.
Ultimately, the more connected you are with yourself the better equipped you will be to bravely step beyond your comfort zone.
6. One Small Step Starts an Avalanche
Planning, writing, talking, and reflecting are important, but nothing beats action. After all, you are reading this article because you want to take steps to take action toward your goals right now. Now, it’s time to take one small intentional step towards your goal.
You have already broken your goals down into smaller projects and turn broken those into a chronology of tasks. Now, it’s time to get strategic and start planning your action.
Luckily, you’ve already identified what tasks need to happen first. Grab your calendar, scheduling app, and make an appointment with yourself to complete the first task.
The completion of that task is a small step that will start an avalanche momentum. Keep setting time aside each day to work on your goal-related tasks. Before you know it, you’ll be looking back reflecting on how far you’ve come.
Goals without action are just good ideas. It can be difficult to take action if you are in a rut, especially if it feels like the entire planet is in the rut too.
Luckily, there are things you can do to get out of your rut: remember to reconnect with your specific goal, identify your big “WHY”—the deep reason that motivates you to pursue the goal, write your goals down, share your goals with your friends, and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of an accountability partner.
Don’t be afraid of the internal resistance—it’s inevitable. Be brave and face it head-on. Lastly, get strategic and plan to take action. One small step can lead to an avalanche of progress.
More Tips About Achieving Goals
How to Get Yourself to Take Action Towards Your Goal
Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit Today
How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals