How to turn your big dreams and personal life goals into reality by practicing intentional goal setting! Don’t miss these tips or the free intentional action printable goal setting worksheet at the end of the post!
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Do you ever reflect on your life and wonder where the last week, month, or year went? All the things you hoped to accomplish, did you achieve them? Or did that time pass without getting you any closer to the things you want out of life?
I recently heard a quote that really stood out to me: “Ideas don’t work if you don’t execute on them.”
It’s worth repeating, so really let it sink in this time. Ideas don’t work if you don’t execute on them.
There’s this idea of intentional action that underlies that statement. And what I took away from that quote is that the only way to achieve the big dreams you have in your heart is to practice intentional action.
Which brings me to the topic of this blog post! The central idea or key takeaway I want you to remember is that being intentional allows you to achieve the things you want in life.
The reality is that unstated goals without a plan or effort behind them are really just nice sentiments. But being intentional by writing down the specific goals you want to achieve, planning the ways you’ll achieve them, and putting forth the effort into achieving them are what turn a nice sentiment into a fulfilled reality.
Note: My free intentional action printable goal setting worksheet will help you with these tasks. You can get it at the end of this post!
So now you know the “what” behind this post. It’s being intentional with your life so you can do the things you want to do, achieve the things you want to achieve, and be the person you want to be.
Now let’s switch gears and explore the “why” behind it.
Why Bother With Intentional Goal Setting?
Why should you be intentional with your life? Why should you take the time to write down your specific goals, plan ways to achieve them, and actually put forth the effort into achieving them?
Well, without intentional action, life will dictate where your path goes. And unfortunately, that’s usually nowhere near where you’d like to be.
Let’s revisit the questions I asked a second ago. Do you ever look back and wonder where the last week, month, or year went? Did that time pass without getting you any closer to your big dreams?
If your answer is “yes,” then that’s life happening. See, life has this annoying habit of pulling us in a million different directions—work, laundry, school, family obligations, church activities, chasing kids around the house—and before we know it, we’re just reacting over and over, day after day, to those everyday little things that vie for our attention.
But we never get any closer to achieving our big dreams.
It’s easier to just be reactive, to just react to the things, events, and circumstances around us and to passively let life happen to us. But being proactive prevents life from dictating your schedule and instead puts you in the driver’s seat so you can achieve the things that are important to you.
So again, why should you be intentional with your life? Why should you take the time to write down your specific goals, plan ways to achieve them, and actually put forth the effort into achieving them? Well, it’s because you need those specific, written goals so you know what you’re working toward, and you need an action plan to make those goals a reality, and you need the drive and determination to see your goals through.
Without this intentional action, days, weeks, months, and years will pass without getting you any closer to your big dreams. All because life happens, and because it’s easier to be reactive than proactive.
So we know the “what” and the “why.” We’ve laid a solid foundation, but now we need some actionable advice to put it into practice. We need to nail down the “how” so we know exactly what to do.
How to Practice Intentional Goal Setting
Now, it does take a little bit of effort on the front end to make your big dreams a reality. But once you write down your specific goals and plan ways to achieve them, your big dreams just hinge on your ability to execute, or follow through with, your plans.
Remember that quote I mentioned earlier? “Ideas don’t work if you don’t execute on them.” All the planning in the world won’t amount to anything if you don’t put action behind it.
So the big question of “How do we implement intentional action to make our big dreams a reality?” has a pretty straightforward answer that consists of three steps.
- Write down your specific goals so you have something tangible to work toward.
- Plan ways to achieve those specific goals.
- Follow through with your action plan.
Let’s explore each of them in detail.
Step 1: Write down your specific goals
The first step is to write down your specific goals so you have something tangible to work toward. When setting goals, there are seven generally-accepted categories that people often use as a guide. They include
- Career goals
- Financial goals
- Personal development goals
- Spiritual goals
- Educational goals
- Relationship goals, and
- Health goals
Within these categories, you can have all sorts of goals, big and small. All you have to do is think of some goals that are important to you using these broad categories as a guide. Now, if you don’t have any important goals in a particular category, that’s fine. Just focus on the areas that are important to you.
For example, maybe you’d really like to get your health on track, and that’s the only category you want to focus on right now. Or maybe you have an overarching goal to improve yourself as a whole, so you have small goals you’d like to achieve in all seven categories.
There’s really no right or wrong way to set your goals. The point is that you write down your specific goals so you have something to work toward.
And while it’s okay to have several goals, you do want to be realistic given the time and financial commitments of each one. If you’re ambitious and have several goals, maybe you could pick 1-3 big ones and rank them in order of importance. Then you can list your smaller goals after that as sort of a bonus once you reach your most important goals.
Step 2: Plan ways to achieve those goals
Once you have your goals written down, the next step is to plan ways to achieve those specific goals. This is where you can brainstorm lots of different ideas and then nail down your action plan.
For example, if your goal is to move into your dream career, then your action plan may include taking some classes to develop your professional skills, getting a valuable certification, networking, and filling out 5 job applications per week.
Step 3: Follow through with your action plan
After you’ve written down your specific goals and developed a solid action plan to make them a reality, it’s time to follow through. This is where you’ll need drive, determination, and a winner’s attitude.
This step is really all dependent on you, since no one else can execute your plan for you. But there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success. You can
- Tell a friend or family member about your goals and action plan and ask them to hold you accountable
- Post your goals in a prominent spot in your home as a reminder of what you want to achieve
- Schedule in your action steps on your calendar so you have a set day and time to work on them
- Set deadlines and reward yourself once you meet those deadlines
The idea is to figure out what works for you and what motivates you so you can use them to your advantage.
So that’s how you’d complete those three steps with intentional action. The whole concept sounds good, but sometimes it’s helpful to see a real-life example to cement the idea in your mind.
Personal Example of Intentional Goal Setting
Let me share with you some examples of intentional action in my own life so you can get a better idea of how I use intentional goal setting to make my big dreams a reality.
I have four big dreams that are very important to me that I’m actively working toward right now. They are
- To achieve financial freedom
- To build a profitable business that can fund the things Josh and I truly want to do
- To foster a positive home environment that’s a welcome retreat from the outside world, a haven, so to speak
- To achieve long-term health so I can enjoy life to the fullest for my entire lifetime
Those things sound good, but without any action behind them, they’re just nice sentiments. So what am I doing to achieve them?
Goal #1: Financial Freedom
For my first goal of achieving financial freedom, I learned everything I could from Dave Ramsey, I create a budget each and every month, I use cash to control my spending rather than using a debit or credit card, Josh and I built an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, and now we’re over halfway through the process of paying off Josh’s $80,000 student loan debt.
So that’s my action plan for achieving financial freedom. It’s a lot of work, but I do it so I can achieve my big dreams.
Goal #2: Profitable Business
For my second goal of building a profitable business, I work on my blog about 30 hours each week, I invest in blogging courses so I can learn the best way to build a successful blogging business from people who have actually done it themselves, and then I take the information and strategies I learn in those courses and apply them to my own blog.
That’s my action plan for building a profitable business.
Goal #3: Positive Home Environment
For my third goal of creating a haven at home, I have a cleaning schedule that keeps my home tidy and running smoothly, and I declutter regularly so my home is only filled with the things Josh and I love and that make us happy.
These two things seem small, but they work together to help me achieve a happy haven at home.
Goal #4: Long-term Health
For my fourth goal of achieving long-term health, I invest time in learning about which foods promote long-term health and which ones negatively affect long-term health, I create a meal plan every Sunday filled with healthy (yet super tasty!) meals that keep my eating aligned with my health goals, I schedule my workouts on my calendar, and I get 8 hours of sleep most nights.
Yes, it’s a lot. This particular action plan is one I’ll have to execute every day, every week, every month, and every year for the rest of my life, but it’s essential if I want to achieve my big goal of having long-term health.
Additional Tips for Intentional Goal Setting
So, I know all of the steps in my various action plans seem like a lot. And they are. But I want you to know two things.
The first thing I want you to know is that I didn’t set out to achieve these goals all at once. That would have been a disaster! Instead, I started working on my financial freedom goal about seven or eight years ago, my positive home environment goal when I got married four years ago, my long-term health goal two years ago, and my profitable business goal one year ago.
So don’t feel like you have to do all the things all at once. In fact, don’t do that! You’ll probably get burned out, and the last thing I want you to do is quit on your big dreams.
I gave you my goals and action plans as an example, not as a measuring stick. Your goals are likely very different from mine, and if you’re new to goal setting, then it’s important that you start small and build up from there.
Choose Action Every Day
The second thing I want you to know, or rather to recognize, is that my action plans are filled with intentional action steps. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it thing. Every day, week, and month, I have to make the decision to execute the steps in my action plans.
And I’ll be honest, sometimes I just don’t want to. But, I know that if I truly want to achieve my big dreams, I have to be proactive and practice intentional action, even when I don’t particularly want to.
Yes, these steps do require planning, time, effort, discipline, and a proactive attitude on the front end, but I can clearly see them propelling me forward toward my goals.
And that’s what I want for you too. I want you to reach your big goals, achieve the things you want to achieve, and be the person you want to be. I want you to devise a plan full of actionable steps and then actually do it.
It’s easy to just let life pass you by, but it’s so much more rewarding and fulfilling when you feel like you’re making progress toward something that’s important to you.
Free Intentional Action Goal Setting Worksheet
Now let’s get to your homework assignment!
Wrapping It Up
Remember my key takeaway: being intentional allows you to achieve the things you want in life.
Unstated goals without a plan or effort behind them are really just nice sentiments. But being intentional by writing down the specific goals you want to achieve, planning the ways you’ll achieve them, and putting forth the effort into achieving them are what turn a nice sentiment into a fulfilled reality.
To help you map out an action plan for your goals, don’t forget to grab my free intentional action goal setting worksheet.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to take action and get to work!
Other Posts You May Enjoy
- How to Afford a Healthy Lifestyle on a Budget
- 29 Ways to De-stress Right Now
- What to Do When You Feel Discouraged by Slow Progress
- Cheap Healthy Food: Affordable Options for the Savvy Budgeter
- 30 Ways to Save Money So You Can Reach Your Financial Goals
What about you? Do you have any goal setting tips that I forgot to include?
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