clear light bulb placed on chalkboard

How many of your great ideas have gone unrealized? It might have been a great idea for an invention, book, or unique business proposal.

clap board roadside Jakob and RyanIf there’s one self-criticism that most people have, it’s the inability to act with any consistency. For example, you might be motivated to finally lose weight and get in great shape. But then life gets in the way, and you’re unable to get started on your exercise routine.

Common excuses include being too tired or busy. Things just seem to get in the way, and it can feel like the entire world is conspiring against you.

Follow these simple, but powerful steps, and you’ll be tackling those goals before you know it:

1. Create the necessary space in your life.

How much time do you need each day to accomplish your objective? If you’re training for a marathon, you ought to be spending an hour a day, a few days a week, and a 2–3-hour block once a week on your routine. Make this time part of your focus and your journey and make it a priority.

2. Begin with baby in red and black plaid dress shirt carrying girl in white dress

Immediately jumping into recent new, unfamiliar activity – like increased physical exercise or training – for 30 minutes can be overwhelming. Start with 5 minutes and add a little time each week as your strength and endurance increase.

* Getting started is frequently the most arduous task on your journey toward lasting change and self-improvement.

3. Avoid letting yourself off the hook.

On those inevitable days when you don’t want to act, just stop. It only takes a split second to convince yourself you have a good reason for avoiding a task.

* If you freeze and don’t do anything else for a minute, you might be able to get yourself back on track. But if you let yourself turn on the TV or get on Facebook, all is lost until the next time. You can even try setting a timer for 60 seconds and then trying again to get back into your chosen activity.

4. Generate reminders until you develop a habit.

white and yellow daisy in bloomEven with the purest of intentions, it’s easy to forget something for a few days. After some time off, it’s easy to lose momentum and enthusiasm.

* Leave notes, signs, and any other type of reminder to ensure you remember to act each day, for at least 21 to 28 days. That’s the amount of time you’ll need to create a new, positive habit and make satisfactory progress. The positive progress will motivate you to keep going.

5. Consider where your discipline is lacking.

Are you distracted by the TV or the internet? If so, do your work where these distractions aren’t present. Are you less likely to be compliant in the evenings? Then, get your work done in the morning.

* Add in the necessary structure to maintain discipline. When you know your challenges and triggers, you can plan to prevent them from derailing your progress.

6. Measure your progress.

green cactus in back pot beside tape measureQuality experts are fond of saying, “When you measure something, the thing you measure changes.” Just by tracking your progress, you’re likely to make more headway.

* Measuring your progress also provides proof that the activity is important to you. Paying attention to the incremental steps on the way to your goal ensures that your goal remains top-of-mind and helps focus your energy and intention.

7. Focus on the payoff at the of bulb artwork

If you think about how miserable it will be to ride your bike for 100 miles, it’s tough to get out the door. But if you focus on the feeling of crossing the finish line in the big race, training is a lot easier.

* Create a vivid mental picture of you reaching your goal. Then you can call on it to provide motivation at a moment’s notice.

8. Realize that conditions may not be perfect.

If you wait until all the stars align in the universe, you’ll rarely accomplish anything. Learn to work through less-than-perfect conditions and situations. There’s a saying, “The best time to plant a tree was last year. The second-best time is right now.”

Avoid being someone that spends an excessive amount of time learning, planning, and thinking. Simply produce a decent plan and work it with enthusiasm. Learning to act is one of the most valuable skills to have in life. Think about the most successful people you know. Are they thinkers or doers?

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About the Author Dianne Daniels

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, and currently residing in Norwich, Connecticut, Dianne M. Daniels' mission is to empower women 50+ to Amplify their Self-Confidence, Deepen their Self-Knowledge, Inspire Creativity, and Glide into the next phase of their lives with the Power of Journaling, Affirmations, and Assessments.

You can learn how to use these time-tested, proven practices to create and manifest the life you want (and deserve) to live.

Dianne is an ordained Unitarian Universalist Minister with a Master of Divinity degree from Starr King School for the Ministry. She's an avid reader, a lover of old houses (she renovated an 1850s vintage Greek Revival home with her family) and has been journaling since the age of 9.

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