We all know the tried and true method of setting goals and reviewing them often. It has an enormous amount of benefits and helps you build momentum.
But, for me, it was not enough.
I used to create a lot of lists and notes with different project ideas, goals and habits I wanted to build. Most of them just collected dust as I never took any action.
It’s easy for me to get excited about a topic, create a project or plan around it, then just forget about it.
One day, I saw all the lists and asked myself: Why did I fail to start or complete these projects?
I always thought there was something more important or urgent, so all of those projects and habits went to the back burner.
I set my course on finding a way to solve this problem, and I found the complement to goal setting: what I call “the cost of not taking action”.
Most of the time we only focus on the benefits a particular action will bring into our lives, and we never consider what would happen if we don’t take that action.
For example, let’s look at the time before I started practicing yoga.
I knew the benefits that practicing yoga would bring me. However, I still failed to prioritize it. Instead of exercising, I would jump straight into work or any other perceived “emergencies.”
Once I looked into the cost of not taking action, I promptly prioritized a yoga session the next morning. But how did that happened?
I just asked myself one simple question: What will happen if I don’t take this action?
It was an eye-opening experience.
I was already suffering from mild back pains, and I had some challenges reaching the top shelf in my kitchen. My joints were stiff and I got tired pretty quickly.
If I kept avoiding yoga, my problems would only worsen. Who knows, I could lose more mobility to the point where I might start depending on other people (which goes against my values).
That simple question outweighed the effort it took to wake up a little bit earlier and start following a couple of easy classes on youtube.
That very same question has allowed me to take control of my health, my finances and, my business in ways that I have not experienced before.
You can do the same thing for yourself.
Choose a goal, something that would bring a benefit to your life in some way.
Once you have the goal, list all the actions you need to accomplish to reach that goal. Set the bar low and easy to start, remember you can grow and evolve with time. For me, I decided that 5 to 10 minutes of yoga every morning would do the trick.
After listing the actions, take a deep breath and list all the consequences of not taking action. For me, this was a huge reality check; I decided to write down what could happen in six months, a year and five years.
You don’t have to research or google anything. Just list what you feel could happen and be honest. I wrote the following:
- In six months: I could feel more rigid and have more problems to keep moving, especially on my shoulders.
- In a year: My back pain problem could get worse, maybe I wouldn’t be able to work for more than a couple of hours.
- In five years: Pain could be intolerable, and I would need to use medication to keep it in check. I would have a limited range of mobility and probably would gain a lot of weight.
I took the idea a bit further and sat with these consequences for a few minutes. Feeling how terrible it would be to spend my days in bed all the time because of the pain.
That last step was crucial for me. It drove home the importance of developing my yoga practice as a habit for life.
The next morning, I had my first five-minute yoga session. For such a short class, it was harder than I imagined, but I knew it was helping me create a long-lasting investment in myself.
Fast forward to today, and now I enjoy my practice. I use it to relax and recharge my batteries, and I’m happy to say the back pain is completely gone.
I believe you can do this for yourself. You can create the life you want.
To tell you the truth, when I understood the consequences of not taking action I saw in myself the parts that I didn’t like and that I usually hide from the world. I bet this will happen to you too.
I have some advice for that too. If you feel guilty, sad or depressed because you have not taken the action you want just stop right there and forgive yourself.
Being hard on yourself and putting more pressure won’t help. Remember, you want to change and form habits not because you are broken, or there is something wrong with you, but to improve your life and become a happier person.
If you try this method, always start from self-love. It will be challenging at first, but soon you will develop your self-care muscle.
Now, take a pen and a piece of paper and start listing those consequences. I promise that once you open your eyes, you won’t go back.