Creating an Action Plan for Your Life

By Grace Tan|13-07-2021 | 1 Min Read
Source: Photo from https://www.freepik.com/
What is holding you back from achieving that dream?

Dreaming Your Way to Success

Within each of us, lies a dormant dream. Sometimes, we talk ourselves out of that dream, saying that it’s too big to be achieved, or we don’t have what it takes to succeed. Before we can even give ourselves a chance at success, our own limited thinking hinders our actions. And we allow our fears and rational thinking to rule. In the end, we stand in the way of our own life.

When I first toyed with the idea of starting my own photography business back in 2005, I didn’t even know how to hold a camera properly. I was drawn to impactful images I saw on the internet… it was mostly photojournalistic National Geographic style images that caught my attention. But a dream without an action plan remains a dream.

In 1901, a man was born in Chicago, Illinois. From a very young age, he had an interest in art and drawing. Even when he was 7 years of age, he could be seen selling small sketches and drawings to neighbours. When he grew up, he pursued his dream and ventured into a business that eventually failed. At the age of 22, he went to Hollywood with just $40 and an unfinished cartoon. In 1923, he met with an opportunity and this was the formal start to The Walt Disney Company. A small cartoon studio has since turned into one of the most influential corporations in the world, all due to one man’s dream.

You can read more about his inspiring story here.

I don’t think Walt Disney ever knew the impact he would have on millions of lives all over the world when he was sketching animal drawings as a young child. His story inspires me, because it reminds me that every big corporation starts with a simple dream. And everyone has humble beginnings.

Read More: The Wonderful World of Disney & His 3 Chairs

If you are in that space where you are dreaming of a future reality, the best time to take action is now. Even if taking action looks like writing your dreams down on paper. But there is a strategy in moving forward, and Walt Disney was talented at recognising the 3 Walts in his life… the Dreamer, the Realist and the Critic. The dreamer will think about the possibilities, but the realist asks, how can it be done? And the critic will ask, why should it be done? We need to wear all 3 hats so that we can move forward.

You can put your dreams to paper by just asking yourself some of these questions:

The Dreamer – no restrictions or criticism

1. What do I really want with this dream?
2. What if there are no limitations?
3. What innovative ideas could I create in relation to this dream?
4. How would I imagine the solutions to be?
5. What are the benefits of applying these solutions to me or my world?

The Realist – creating real, manageable action plans

Once the dreams are solid, it’s time to put on the Realist hat. This role is not meant to shoot down your dreams, but it’s meant to be constructive to turn dreams into real, workable plans.

1. How can I apply these ideas into my current reality?
2. What is the big picture plan to execute these ideas?
3. What are 3 possible steps to get me closer to my outcome?
4. What is the timeline?
5. How will I evaluate my idea in relation to the outcome? Will it need more time for execution?

The Critic – discover barriers and how to overcome it

Lately, I’ve been seesaw-ing between two extremes, feeling motivated about my dreams, and then feeling demotivated about it the next. Lethargy sets in when I am not moving. I allow my emotions to overwhelm me, and everything seems so huge and unattainable. I realised that this was my own barrier. My brain is giving me a red stop sign so I stop moving. But this thought came to me recently, if I never fulfil my dream, I will not only be robbing myself, but all the others who would benefit from this dream in the future. Keep moving, Grace.

By focusing on what we can control, and not just the problems, it provides space for us to move forward.

1. What could be missing from the idea?
2. What could go wrong?
3. What could be the weaknesses of the plan?
4. What could be the threats standing in my way?
5. What is really within my control?

I began in 2008 with the most basic camera and lens, with very little knowledge, but with a heart yearning to learn. Now, I lead a team of photographers and videographers who care about creating beautiful, impactful images and videos that make a difference in society. My journey has not ended and my dreams continue to evolve and grow. Pursuing your dreams will never be easy but it is completely fulfilling when your heart, mind and will is aligned. May you discover and realise the dreams in your heart!

This article may interest you: Six Tools For Turning Your Ideas Into Reality

Creating An Action Plan For Your Life

One of the areas I am extremely talented in is the area of procrastination. There’s always that article that needed to be written, that chore that needs to be done at home, or that doctor’s appointment that was ‘conveniently’ forgotten about.

If I was truly honest with myself, it wasn’t that I didn’t have the time to do these tasks, I procrastinated because I disliked doing chores or activities that took me out of my comfort zone. This BBC article sums it up really well and states that procrastination is an emotional regulation issue.

Psychologists like Tim Pychyl at Carleton University in Canada and his collaborator Fuschia Sirois at the University of Sheffield in the UK have proposed that procrastination is an issue with managing our emotions, not our time. The task we’re putting off is making us feel bad – perhaps it’s boring, too difficult or we’re worried about failing – and to make ourselves feel better in the moment, we start doing something else, like watching videos.

So, interestingly, the article suggested a method of overcoming procrastination… just get started.

It’s never easy to take action especially when humankind is so resistant towards pain and we only gravitate towards activities that give us pleasure. Though we might know the benefits of taking action (like exercising), the mind can certainly decide in a few seconds that it’s just too much effort and perhaps exercise could wait another day.

As entrepreneurs, we need to take action on a million and one things on a daily basis. If we procrastinate on some of the hard tasks at work, it may never get done. The very person holding the business back could be us. Thinking and talking about taking action is not enough. We need to be intentional and take baby steps to actually do something about it.

Here are 7 common reasons we fail to take action in life:

  1. We are afraid to change – Change is never easy, but in life, we are either growing or dying. Change requires us to move out of our comfort zone.
  2. We don’t want to fail or lose – We usually do things that we are good at, and fear doing things that we are not good at.
  3. We value pleasure over pain – It is much easier to give in than to work through challenges and difficulties.
  4. We choose distractions over destiny – We choose short term gains or goals. A lot of people cannot focus on what is the most important thing to do first. So we just drift along, allowing whatever calls our attention today to take over our long term priorities.
  5. We over plan and under commit – It’s so easy to keep overthinking a situation and never move because you can’t get clarity on a situation.
  6. We don’t want it (bad) enough – There’s not enough motivation and conviction to move forward.
  7. We are not aligned to our identity, values, beliefs, motivations, attitudes, behaviours or actions – Self-awareness is a key to unlock the door towards action.

Just Get Started.

Mel Robbins, best-selling author of the 5 Second Rule says that the 5 Second Rule closes the gap between thinking about what needs to be done and actually doing it.

The rule is pretty simple. If you have a thought about wanting to take action towards a goal, all you need to do is count 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 backwards and get to it. Don’t allow your brain time to dispute your instinct with reasons why you should only work on it later. Read more about this amazing concept here.

So what happens after we start taking baby steps? Starting is just one aspect of it. In my early years of business, after I implemented goal planning for the team, I realised I still failed to reach my goals. What went wrong? We wrote everything we wanted to achieve, started working on some areas, and yet, after some months, I realised I never achieved everything I wrote down. I believe the failure came because we lacked accountability, and we didn’t have a proper action plan for those goals.

Creating goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) can help us in this journey. If you need someone to keep you accountable, having a coach walk alongside you will set you up for success.

Ultimately, the responsibility to take action in life is yours alone but you do not need to feel alone.
This article is courtesy of stories.my

Hey! before you go, catch this Leaderonomics video interview where ActionCoach Jeevan speaks of strategies a business owner can adopt.


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Grace Tan is a visual content creator, lifestyle photographer and ICF certified life coach. She is the founder of Comma: Rethink Life, a community based platform that provides support for marriages to thrive and to encourage purposeful parenting among families in Malaysia. She is happily married to a supportive, equally entrepreneurial husband and a mother to 2 young, active children aged 6 and 8.

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