Take Action in Small Steps on the Right Things to Achieve Your JOYs (aka goals)

Habit 5: Take Action from The “Habits for Well-Being” Series

It sounds simple, right? Captain Obvious is back again! Of course, you have to take action to reach your goals. They aren’t going to magically materialize without some effort on your part. Luck will certainly play a role in your success. More than most would like to admit but you have to take action on that luck.

Why is it so hard for so many to take that first action? That first step? Why do so many get “stuck” in procrastination, naysaying, analysis paralysis, second-guessing, imposter syndrome, on and on and on? The answers are exactly all of these and more.

Are you taking action toward your JOYs?

Honestly? Think about it a little more.

If your answer is still “yes” then I would ask – are you taking action on the right things? Busy does not equal productive!

I’ll ask again – Are you taking action….on the right things?

Identifying the Right Things

Identifying the right things to take action on can be challenging, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer that works for everyone. It requires an individualized approach and honest introspection of your values and goals. What matters to you? What do you care about most? Your answers to these questions will help guide you when identifying the right things to take action on. Going a little deeper I would even challenge your answers to those questions. Are those really the best things for you to focus on or are your strings being pulled by ego, bias, and social media? But that’s a discussion of its own.

If you start at the highest level, I propose that you can break “the right things” down into four main focus buckets:

  • Body & MindPhysical, mental, and emotional health. Not to be confused with Ego.
  • Learning & Career – Lifelong learning and personal growth.
  • Family & Social – Connect with your loved ones and #LiveLifeWell!
  • Finances & Giving – Build wealth for yourself but more importantly – give it away!

Each of these areas needs your attention and action but let us start small and identify the one that is the most out of balance in your life. I have created a simple worksheet you can download and print for FREE at this link.

I believe you can look at each area of these buckets and every challenge or conflict in your life in the form of a pendulum. The pendulum often swings too far in one direction or another. It’s important to recognize when we’ve swung too far either way and take action to bring ourselves back into balance.

Take a few minutes and reflect on each area. Where has your pendulum swung for that area?

Too little, too much, balanced, or somewhere in between? Be honest with yourself and color in the circle that represents your current state in each area. They are interrelated. One I have struggled with most of my life is putting too much towards Learning & Career which results in too little in most other areas. Being a workaholic has negative impacts on other areas of your life. There are only so many hours in the day. How are you allocating those hours? Is it balanced? Probably not.

Write Down the Why

Now that you have identified your current status – write the why behind that status.

  • Body & Mind – Are you ignoring your body and mind by spending too much time in other areas? Are you getting enough exercise? Are you practicing self-care? Are you taking breaks during the work day and possibly meditating to bring yourself back to mindfulness? Or maybe you are a “workout junky” spending too much time in the gym because social media has you convinced that you should look like the airbrushed and filtered images everyone is posting. Write the “why” behind your current status in Body & Mind.
  • Learning & Career – Are you a workaholic spending 10+ hours a day working and thereby ignoring the other areas of your life? Are you in a dead-end job not taking the action to grow and move on to a more fulfilling career? Do you have an idea for a business or book but are too afraid of failure to take the first step? Write the “why” behind your current status in Learning & Career.
  • Family & Social – Are you becoming a hermit and avoiding social gatherings? Are you giving your spouse, significant other, and other family members enough time or are you taking them for granted? Or is it reverse and you are spending way too much money and time hanging out with friends and acquaintances at the bar every night ignoring all the other areas of your life? Write the “why” behind your current status in Family & Social.
  • Finances & Giving – Are you clinging to “stuff” that you should give away and get more organized? Do you have a budget? Do you adhere to your budget and manage it regularly? Do you have a plan for your retirement? ARE YOU GIVING ENOUGH TO OTHERS LESS FORTUNATE THAN YOU? You can give your time as well as your money! Are you taking the steps in “Learning and Career” in order to increase your wealth so that you have more to give away? Write the “why” behind your current status in Finances & Giving.

Identify the Best Next Step

Once you have identified “why” an area is out of balance now you can determine what the “Best Next Step” is to move towards balance in that area.

Breaking big, daunting goals into smaller, more manageable tasks can make them feel more attainable and take some of the pressure off. This will encourage you to take action and take ownership of the task from beginning to end.

Start small and write down the next step you need to take to move the pendulum closer to the “balanced” position. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Exercise 7 minutes a day, 5 days a week for the next 5 weeks.
  • Meditate 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week for the next 5 weeks.
  • Sign up for a class on a subject you have been wanting to learn. Then finish the class!
  • Schedule date night or family night on a specific day every other week.
  • Create a monthly budget including an amount to be donated to a charity of your choice.

Pick One!

You read that right. Pick the ONE that is the most out of balance. If you are using the worksheet, color in the circle next to the area you have chosen. This is the ONE area you should stay focused on and take action on. You may be able to take action on the other next steps in parallel but first and foremost – every day – you should stay focused on that one until it is no longer the most out of balance.

Look at your sheet every morning to remind yourself of your focus. As you progress, revise it with your current balance and add the Next Best Step as you complete the last or build the habit you desire. When and only when that area is no longer the most out of balance – you can identify a new area as your ONE area of focus. Again, you can certainly work on the other areas in parallel as long as you keep your focus and priority in the one that is most out of balance.

If “Body & Mind” is your chosen most out of balance and you are starting an exercise routine with a 7-minute daily routine but also need to build a budget then, of course, you can work on that budget AFTER you finished your 7-minute routine for the day.

You can find my completed worksheet as of the date of this post HERE. If you would like an accountability partner(s), let’s connect on the Joysetting Facebook Group. Let’s keep each other taking action together.

Now Take Action!

Taking action not only helps us take advantage of opportunities that arise – it also plants the seeds for future actions, builds positive habits, and sets us up for success.

When taking action, keep in mind that small steps can have a lasting impact. Small steps help build momentum and lay the foundation for future successes to achieve your JOYs. That JOY may be completely different than the original destination you set your sights on initially. Focus on the process and the journey rather than the destination. You might be surprised where the universe takes you as you take those small incremental actions.

Celebrate Success and Learn from Mistakes

Celebrating success is an important part of the journey including celebrating the journey itself that will guide you toward achieving your JOYs. Identifying your area of focus and the next best step is taking action. Celebrate that achievement! It helps to take a moment to acknowledge your progress and take pride in your accomplishments, no matter how small they may be.

Celebrating success helps you stay motivated and keeps you on track. But it’s also important to take time to learn from mistakes, take stock of your progress, and adjust your destination if necessary. Taking time to reflect on what went right and wrong helps you take action more thoughtfully and take small steps towards reaching your JOYs. I have an amazingly long list of failures and mistakes and I would not trade them for anything!

Taking action is the key to achieving your goals and well-being. Start small, take ownership of each task from beginning to end, and focus on one area at a time until it’s no longer out of balance. Celebrate successes along the way, take stock of progress, learn from mistakes, and adjust as necessary. With these principles in mind, you will be well on your way to creating positive habits that can help lead you toward achieving joy!

So take a few moments, take a deep breath, and take action today – small steps can lead to big rewards!

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