Step 3 is where “rubber meets the road”.
In the context of this series and the 5 Step System overall, it means taking the first step of your plan. It's where you set yourself up for success by laying the foundations of your plan.
This step can be difficult for some people because it's when shit gets real! Up until now, it's all just been talking (and thinking) but from this step onwards it's time to walk the walk.
Many people struggle here because they have to make some (big) changes to their situation and lifestyle in order to start and see their plan through. For the motivated and committed, this step is simple. But for some others it can be tough. If you've completed the steps prior to this step successfully, than taking action shouldn't be too difficult for you because your personal connection to the plan should create enough excitement and motivation to put it into action.
If you're lacking a desire to take action, you may be missing something important within your plan that makes it internally motivating. Without that, getting started and sticking at it will always be a struggle.
The reason I say this is because I've met many people who had a good plan for themselves but never executed on it and therefore never achieved the results they desired. To understand what I mean here, answer the following questions;
How many books have you read where you said you would implement a new idea/principle/action into your life but never did it?
How many new year’s resolutions have you (or people you know) made where you put together a plan of attack but never got started?
And keeping with the fitness analogies from other posts, how many fancy diet or exercise programs have you considered starting but then didn’t do it because it was just too hard to kick it off?
If you’re anything like most people (myself and my clients included) then you’ll likely see from answering those questions, that taking action is hard. And having a plan alone is not enough for getting the results you want.
If you've read the blog posts on the earlier steps, hopefully by now, you’re starting to see how each step relates to one another. Awareness leads to good Planning. And good Planning helps make taking Action much easier because it includes Awareness within it.
So going back to what I mentioned above, a big reason why people don’t take action on their plans is because they skipped the Awareness step altogether. The plan they made (or got from another person – ie Google, a friend, etc) is not aligned to them personally. There is a disconnect. There is a lack of motivation to take action because the action they need to take is generic or designed for someone else who has different goals, values, desires, personality, etc.
The ironic thing about this problem is that it is the opposite to the problem I highlighted in the Planning blog post. Back at that step, I said the biggest problem I saw was people jumping into action with no plan and getting nowhere because it lacks direction or connection. In this step I see the biggest problem being people not taking action despite having a plan because they lack motivation. Part of this could be because mentally they feel they've "ticked" the box by just creating a plan. This of course does not tick any boxes because a plan is not the result (a plan unactioned is a wasted plan).
But as I've mentioned throughout, the main reason I feel people don't put their plan into action is because their plan lacks personal connection which leads to a lack of personal motivation for action. So the key takeaway here is don't skip the first 2 steps and if you are lacking a desire to take action, go back to the previous steps to get things right until you are excited to get started.
Once you have completed the Awareness step and then the Planning step correctly, you'll have a clear picture of what action you need to take to get started as well as the behaviours required along the journey. But most importantly, you'll have a strong sense of WHY you’re doing it. This level of motivation cannot be understated. The Action step is all about making those initial changes and/or setting up the foundations of your plan which will help support your efforts and behaviours over time to make real progress and achieve results.
When I worked with Personal Training clients, this involved doing things like setting up calorie tracking apps, scheduling PT sessions months in advance, creating a templated shopping list, etc. For Financial Planning clients, this includes doing things like setting up their new banking and cashflow system, consolidating debts, setting up cashflow tracking software, establishing appropriate insurance policies, getting their Superannuation and Investments put in the right place and organising their Wills.
It’s about getting everything set up in the right way so that it fits with the plan and makes sticking to the plan as easy as possible going forward.
Speaking of sticking to the plan, the only way to turn your dreams into a reality is to turn your dreaming into doing. So, let’s look at how you can do just that with – Step 4) Consistency