“Take Action to Get Going”
by Laura Worth, MSW
Encore Life Coach
When it comes to goals, all the preparation in the world is no substitute for action. Action requires commitment and willingness to take a reasonable risk. There is never a perfect moment in which preparation is complete and commitment is without risk.
Research suggests that it is helpful to understand that each stage of working on a goal needs a different focus. For example, in the last two months, I wrote about the “Get Ready! Get Set! Go!” model of goal achievement. Success requires a commitment to the unique tasks for each stage.
In the “Get Ready” phase, the focus is on exploring, self-awareness and discovery.
In the “Get Set” phase, the focus shifts to preparation and examination of our motivations and the personal meaning supporting the goal. This can lead to a decision to commit when it’s a goal worthy of our attention.
Last month, I wrote that one way to destroy a goal is to commit too early. The paradox is that another goal killer is not to commit at all.
I personally find it easy to get stuck in the “Get Set” phase, where preparation feels safe and self-discovery is its own reward. To bridge myself into action from preparation, I find that applying some of the same strengths I used in the earlier phases works like a charm.
Commitment and Curiosity
When I am actively working on a goal, I can start each day asking, “What will I discover today about myself and my relationship to my goal?”
It’s important to approach this question with openness to learning new meanings. This helps to reinforce the motivations that arise from my deeply held values.
It’s these values that help me find courage and commitment to keep going. I remind myself of the deeper personal meaning that can motivate me when the day is difficult.
Commitment and Preparation
In the action phase, I find that each day still requires a period of preparation where the planning processes offer the security of the familiar. I review or revise my plan for the week and set up my day’s new expectations.
I find that these mini-preparation periods are enjoyable because they are reminiscent of the creative vision that I enjoyed in the preparation phase.
Preparation, planning and new resource identification continues even as I fully focus on my goal in the commitment phase.
I also know I must generate enough creativity to change my plans based on real-life results. As they say, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans.”
I understand that each day requires new initiative from me. I often experience this need for initiative as procrastination.
Another way of seeing this need to start anew on a goal each day redefines daily “starting” as an opportunity to refresh myself, taking a look at the goal project with new eyes.
New Action Brings New Knowledge
In the action phase of goal work, I enjoy asking myself what character challenges will emerge in the day’s process: What gratitudes will I experience? What life lessons will be apparent if I apply curiosity in the midst of action?
What will I learn about the physical world? What social and relationship skills will I need to improve? What can I do to keep my energetic spirit up to the inevitable challenges?
Ultimately, action produces knowledge about my goal. Action, at its best, is also applied curiosity that teaches me about myself. It acquaints me with the realities of my goal.
Sometimes, when the next step toward a goal is not apparent, it’s helpful to remember that what seem to be problems can also become stepping stones that lead me forward. In the action phase, it’s time to tackle problems with enthusiasm. I try to encounter problems as opportunities to take action toward my goal.
Generating New Opportunities
The beauty of moving into the action phase is that commitment generates new opportunities that were not apparent during earlier preparation phases. I find that discovery and learning continues all through the action phase, as long as I remain curious and keep my plans flexible.
In the action phase, I like to define the goal in ways that let me experience curiosity, make discoveries and find life lessons in the process. This helps me move from the discovery and preparation phases into action. This process helps me express my strengths, manifest my values and satisfies me in deeply personal ways that strengthen my commitment to the goal.
These underlying goals for discovery, personal growth and new knowledge can help to ensure that the action phase is sustainable through the life of working on the goal.
Laura Worth, MSW is a Life and Business Coach, specializing in helping clients creatively plan and develop their next meaningful life changes. Emerging opportunities for transformational encores resonate with personal continuities of purpose, core values, and character strengths through encore life coaching. For more than 20 years Laura has offered individual and group-based coaching, workshops, book groups, and topical classes. She coaches in-person, by phone, and by e-mail.