Good intentions are wonderful. They’re very important. But, as human beings, we are measured by our actions. Who we are is measured by our actions. Actions are visible and discernible behavior—and while it may be frustrating that people often can’t see all the hard work we are doing internally, our actions are the only thing they can quantify. Also, action implies movement. Intention can point us in the right direction, and lay a foundation for good action, but movement will not take place without the action.
A simple and practical first step for inciting action is by keeping your word. By this, I mean following through on your claims and commitments both to yourself and others. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. No matter what. No excuses. This isn’t going to happen overnight. This is a very difficult practice to adhere to. Personally, this is something I struggle with on a daily basis. Expect yourself to struggle with this. Expect yourself to make mistakes. The real trick is to accept those mistakes and try not to judge them or yourself. You’re only human.
An important thing to realize is that just as action creates movement, that movement will create more action. It’s a chain reaction. For example, if you struggle with isolating yourself, the more you make the effort to go out and see friends, the more you will find yourself going out to see friends, organically. The more you push yourself to do it, the more you will find yourself motivated to do it. And eventually, you will have a desire to do it more often.
Setting goals can be extremely overwhelming. For me, there can be this disconnect between my strong to desire to do certain things, and then actually being able to follow through on them. The moment of difficulty comes for me when I try to plan my goals, and look at the big picture. When I try to figure everything all at once, I freeze up, and end up walking away from it and doing nothing. Sound familiar? A strategy to reduce the inevitable anxiety involved in planning is breaking your goals down into small, doable actions; baby steps. Really, as minute as possible. So small that it seems silly. For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, and you want to go about it by walking at least 30 minutes each day, start by committing to walk at least 1 minute a day. If that still feels too daunting, try 1 minute, once a week. I am dead serious about this. This is why this works: if you try to tell yourself that you’re going to walk 30 minutes every day starting tomorrow, when it’s something you don’t do regularly, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of having to do 30 minutes every day for the whole week. If you make a commitment to yourself to do 1 minute every day, it won’t seem too daunting, and you may find yourself accidentally walking for longer. The thing is, we feel good when we set a goal and honor it. It’s a great feeling. So, the secret of this strategy is making that good feeling, that feeling of accomplishment, easier to acquire. You’ll do your 1 minute of walking, which you committed to do, and feel accomplished that you honored the commitment—and that feeling will encourage and propel you to do more.