Taking action doesn’t come naturally to most people as Earl Nightingale learnt as a young child. Earl was brought up in a poor family and there was no way for him to become rich (or so people thought). He also grew up believing that rich people weren’t happy.

This belief worked until he was seven years old when he observed rich people having a great time. Until that time, it had never occurred to him that grownups could be wrong.

Observing rich people having fun shifted his thinking. In the process, he realized that another family belief – that one day his ship would sail in and bring them a better life – was not physically possible.

That was his AHA moment! And so he made a lifelong quest to find out what makes people succeed. He implemented what he learnt and changed his thoughts and actions to suit what he wanted to achieve.

By taking action on his dreams, Earl becomes a very successful motivational speaker, bestselling author, and entrepreneur. He won awards from the Napoleon Hill Foundation and the International Speakers Hall of Fame among others.

His audio The Strangest Secret became the first non-music audio to sell a million LPs (that was before CDs and MP3s).

Earl later teamed up with Lloyd Conant and formed Nightingale-Conant Corporation, the world’s greatest collection of personal development materials.

The foundation of Earl’s work is two-found: you become what you think about and taking action on your goals and dreams.

Are you taking action on your dreams?

Many people today wait for their ‘ships’ to sail in. They have desires and maybe even goals, but never work on them.

One thing I’ve discovered in my personal life and when working with clients is that it’s not easy to take consistent action on the things you want.

You may be very motivated and even have a clear action plan, but life always seems to get in the way of what we want.

How then do you stay motivated and keep moving forward?

1. Before you start…

The first thing you need to do is make sure that you set the stage right. So before you start, take time to write all the things you want to achieve within a certain period (e.g. a year).

Next, prioritize your list with #1 being what you want the most. This is also something that will have the biggest positive impact on your life when you achieve it.

Finally, take the #1 desire and make it into a SMART goal.

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2. Break your goal into small steps

Having a SMART goal is not the end. In fact, the goal may seem so huge that you give up on it even before you start.

The next step is to break this goal down into actionable steps. Think through and write down all the steps you need to complete to achieve this goal.

Again, prioritize these steps in terms of sequence and time.

3. Commit to taking action daily

The first thing to do here is to create space in your calendar for working on your goals. Ideally, you should work on your #1 goal every day – for at least an hour a day if possible.

So pull out your calendar and plug-in your top 3 action steps as identified previously. Make these into appointments and commit to keeping these commitments daily.

When you schedule your goals as appointments, it’s easy to say No to other commitments by saying, “I’m sorry, I have an appointment at that time.” You don’t have to tell the person what this appointment is…you simply let them know that the time is taken.

4. Grow and learn

In the process of working on your goals, you will identify areas where you need to improve. Find ways of becoming better by:

  • taking classes,
  • reading books,
  • getting e-courses,
  • attending seminars and workshops,
  • networking,
  • working with a mentor,
  • participating in online or offline masterminds, or
  • working with a coach.

The internet has opened up the world and provided free and low-cost learning and growth opportunities. Take advantage of them and become a master goal-achiever.

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5. Review constantly

When a ship sets off, it has a specific destination. When it’s sailing, it goes off-course many times. However, the captain is always aware of this and uses navigational instruments to keep the ship moving towards its destination.

You need to do something similar with your goals.

Review your progress each day, week, month, quarter and year so that you know whether you are on-course or off-course. When your quarterly or half-yearly reviews show that you need to shift your direction, take time to evaluate that information and make the necessary changes.

My mid-year review this year helped me get crystal clear focus on what is working for my business. By dropping what was not working, I’ve saved time and reduced the amount of work I’m doing.

Create a system for reviewing your goals so that you don’t get off track or lose motivation. Use your reviews to guide your ship safely to its destination.

Over to you…

Are you taking action on your goals or waiting for your ship to sail in? Share your experience in the Comments below and let me know what’s working or not working for you

(Photo credit: Caroline Gikonyo)  

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