Putting decisions into action

Putting decisions into action

Making the decision to change some aspects in your life can be difficult enough, but once you have made the decision to change, how can you then begin to put it into action? So often, people have formed the decision to bring about change in their lives, and that’s as far as it gets! For various reasons, there is no follow-through, and the change that they had hoped for, and even decided upon, just doesn’t happen. So how does the decision to change progress from existing in the head to the arena of reality?

The following are some important steps that can assist us in putting our decisions into motion:

1. Tell someone about your decision to change

Words are powerful, and become more so when spoken aloud, or written, to another person. The more detail you can discuss about your decision to change, the more powerful it is and the more likely it will be to becoming a reality.

2. Write about your decision

Write your decision and some key words of the positive aspects for change, and put it in a prominent place where you will be reminded of it. Your goals do not have to be broadcast to the whole world, but being reminded about them on a regular basis can help to keep you focused.

3.  Develop an Action Plan consisting of i) small achievable goals , and ii) a time frame

i) Break down the actions required for accomplishing your decision into smaller achievable segments. For example, my decision to become a calmer person by meditating every day may not be achievable straight up, but I may be able to manage once a week to begin with. So for the next month, I will meditate every Sunday, after which time I will increase my meditation to twice a week.

ii) Set time lines for implementing your decision. Be realistic! Time lines are critical in setting achievement points. If no time lines are put in place, your good intentions and decision to change generally remain in the ‘gunna do’ or ’round tuit’ bucket.

4. Be Accountable

Develop some form of accountability to ensure that you are achieving your smaller goals along the way. Accountability goes hand in hand with commitment and action. Having a good friend or mentor or some online networks who can check in with you or offer you feedback on a regular basis about your achievements can be a great incentive to keep you on track. Just knowing that someone will be enquiring about your progress can prompt you into action when you otherwise might be lagging behind.

5. Reward yourself

Reward yourself for the small achievement markers along the way. The reward honours your work so far, and helps to reinforce your commitment to your decision to change. Ultimately, through all the smaller progress achievements, the changed behaviour or situation is achieved, which will be the greatest reward.

6. Go easy on yourself and pick yourself up again

There are likely be times when you are not able to achieve the smaller (or bigger) goals you have set for yourself. Many people, at these times, chuck in the towel completely, and that’s the end of the change story! It seems that they believe they are failures if they cannot achieve their goals exactly as they set them, and so they might as well give up! At times of feeling let down by yourself, check in with a good friend or mentor, as you are in need of a good dose of reassurance. We all trip up along the way, and we may need reminding about why we were on the path of change in the first place. This is the time also to revisit  your Decision and Goal sheet and review its validity. If your initial decision to change is still valid, then there is no need to give up completely just because you slipped up along the way. Recognise that we all slip up and that it’s OK (people fall off bikes too and it’s OK!).  It could be that you set difficult goals or unrealistic timelines for yourself and these may need revising into a plan that is more manageable.

7. Revisit your decision

It is a good idea to revisit your decision regularly, to keep focused and to make any revisions or amendments to the goals you have set. Decisions and goals are not set in concrete, and as you move through the stages of achievements along the way, you may find that the original decision needs to be adjusted. Beware of any tendency of backing down simply because you are feeling the pressure of being accountable! Discuss with your mentor or a professional therapist if you begin to feel that you cannot continue with your original decision. It may be that you are sabotaging your efforts to achieve your goals, or perhaps some other significant issue is getting in the way.

 Each article in the Change series looks at various factors of initiating, implementing and managing change.

About Margaret Lambert

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  1. I’m too reliant on outcomes as a motivator to continue with practicing a new habit or decision. Do you have any advice please share your thought.

    • Margaret Lambert says:

      I guess it depends on whether the outcome is immediately achievable, in which case you have your motivation straight up and don’t need any ‘practising’ as such. If the desired outcome is more distant, then finding a way to reach it is important, and would require ‘motivating practices’ with the end goal in mind. Does that sound reasonable or more importantly, doable?

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