How to Actually Do What You’ve Been Talking About

One of the things I hear a lot from friends and clients is that they have good intentions when talking about the things they want to accomplish but have a really hard time with the follow-through when embarking on something new. As someone who is pretty goal-driven, I’m not immune to this either. While I certainly do plenty of things that I set out to do, there are still some outliers that I haven’t fully embraced too. 

Whenever I think of announcing something that I’m going to do I think of the famous quote-” Don’t talk about it, be about it.” Now to be honest I’d never tell a client or friend not to talk about a dream or a goal. I actually think that publicly or even privately sharing a goal is a very brave thing to do and there’s something to be said for it adding a level of accountability too. But I do agree that it’s really about the second part-the follow through. 

So how do we move from the idea, thought, or heartfelt announcement to actually being about it? Here are a few things that we can do. 

Figure out your why- there’s plenty of psychology out there to support the idea that when we don’t do what we say we’re going to it’s because we don’t really want to do it, but I believe there’s a little more to it than that. Maybe our why just isn’t compelling enough. Want to write a book, launch a website, or change jobs? Brainstorm (in writing) all the reasons why- not just the first one that pops in your head. I’d like a new job because I don’t like my current one. Why? I don’t feel I am compensated enough and I would like to earn more money. Why? Because my current salary does not allow me to live the way I want to. And what would that look like? Well, I would have more disposable income to travel and, and, and. Follow your why. When your reason becomes clearer and really resonates with you, you will be more prone to take action. You’ll have a little more “want to” in you.

Use Affirmative language– Now, I’m going to share one of my most used (in a cheeky way) quotes that I fire off all the time. “Do or do not. There is no try.” I’m not a big Starwars fan- though I live with a couple and therefore have seen all of the movies. But you don’t need to know anything about Star Wars, George Lucas, grownup yoda, or the baby one, for this to resonate. Many times we approach what we want to do with trepidation and it’s revealed in the language we use. “I’m going to try to learn French” is not as affirmative or definitive as ”I am going to learn French”. Using affirmative language actually helps create momentum and encourages real action.

Break it Up– Set up a timeline with smaller steps. The how to eat an elephant rule (one step at a time) applies here. Want to write a book? Great! However, writing a book is typically a longer-term goal that includes many smaller steps along the way. So start with the smaller steps in mind and give yourself a timeline to meet those smaller goals.

Give Yourself a Small Award-I know this sounds pretty basic. Maybe we shouldn’t need the treat to do what we really claim to want to do, but the reality is that we are still pretty basic beings when you really get down to it. Treats don’t just work for our four-legged friends, they work for us too. So while a big reward for learning French for example might be an actual trip to France, think about smaller rewards you could give yourself along the way. Downloaded an app and finished your first set of lessons? Box of macaroons maybe? Finished your first language class? A lovely french scarf might do. Work your way up to your trip to France but enjoy the journey. Your rewards don’t have to be monetary either. A visit to a museum to check out your favorite french artists might be something you’d enjoy too. Reward yourself in a way that feels true to you.

Visualize your success– I’m a big believer in visualization. Studies show that our brains actually interpret imagery as real-life action. It helps our bodies begin to act in the way that we have visualized. I know about the research, but if I’m being honest most of the time when I am visualizing I’m not trying to train or trick my brain, it’s just another way to practice mindfulness for me. There are so many benefits to quieting your mind and taking a quick break from all the daily things to just picture something pleasant and new. But how wonderful if that brain break actually leads to action too. Take a moment and think about what it will look like when you achieve your goal. Visualize that book signing, that TED talk, or that new business or book in detail. We often think of all the negative things that might go wrong with our new venture. Take a few minutes each day to picture it all going just right too!

So those are my tips for actually doing what you’ve been talking about. I’m planning to take my own advice too. I’d love to hear any others you might have used that worked for you. 

Until Next Post, 

Xo Tonya Parker

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Tonya Parker is a counselor, author and certified life coach who believes in helping women look and feel their best! Ambassador for O, The Oprah Magazine and author of Single Mom Chic

7 thoughts on “How to Actually Do What You’ve Been Talking About

  1. These are such helpful tips. I definitely need to do more visualization and write down my “why”. I’ve been thinking a lot about goals lately, too, what has helped me is having a theme for the year. This year my theme is change: letting go of what I can’t change, changing negative patterns, and taking risks. XO Nipa

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