From Idea to Action: 7 Steps to Getting Unstuck

| | Personal Leadership

Law of InertiaHave you ever had a really great idea, something you just knew you should do, yet somehow you did not act on it?

Perhaps you even wrote it down while sincerely thinking to yourself, “I am going to do this.” It may have been sparked while you were in a meeting, attending a seminar, reading a book or article, or during great conversation with a colleague or coach. At the time you were excited by having had one of those “aha” moments, or the feeling that you just had a spark of brilliance.

Then, somehow, what seemed so significant in that moment fades away. Perhaps it got buried in a mountain of paperwork and was forgotten until you come across it while clearing your desk months later. The idea may even continue to cross your mind once in a while. Only now, instead of excitement, that same idea evokes irritation because you let the idea and the inspiration to do it fade away.

I’d venture to say it happens to all of us on occasion. If you are a bit of an “idea junkie,” it probably happens more often than you would like to admit. The crazy thing is, letting a great idea fall by the wayside seems to happen even more often when you are feeling stuck. It can be embarrassing and even cost your self-confidence when you know what to do, but can’t seem to figure out why you are not doing it.

You may have heard of Law of Motion which is: An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. This law can also be applied to our progress in any endeavor.

When you are caught in a cycle of inaction, the tendency is to remain “at rest.” It takes a lot more energy to take that first action to get moving again than it does to continue a consistent course of action. On the other hand, once you are in action, with each action you take toward your goals, you gain momentum.

Breaking through the inertia of inaction and finally getting into action requires 2 things: choosing you will break through now, no matter what, and significantly narrowing your focus.

Are you ready to choose to break through now, or help someone else make that choice and get into action?

Here are 7 simple steps to break through the cycle of inaction, and put the Law of Motion to work in your favor.

1. Narrow your focus to one very specific big goal that you have.

This doesn’t mean scrap all of your other goals. Yet the more you narrow your focus, the easier it will be to choose something to start taking action on. Clarity and simplicity are critical.

2. List the first 5 ideas that come to mind – the things you have already been thinking about doing that could help you achieve that goal.

Stick to the ones you can remember. Do not turn this into a month long research project to sift through all of your notes. Chances are there are one or two things you have been thinking about doing for a while. There is no time like the present to get started.

3. Choose ONE idea and set a date BY WHEN you will have completed implementing that idea.

Do not worry about choosing the “right “ idea or even the right due date. Anything you choose will be perfect. Just make sure you choose something specific.

4. List the first 3 things you must do to execute that idea.

Planning can create the illusion of action. It can also create a sense of overwhelm. If it’s a really big idea, you will likely need to do more planning. However, the point of this step is to identify enough to get you started, not create a complete project plan.

5. Write your big goal (from step 1), the idea you are implementing by when (from step 3), and the first 3 things you must do to execute the idea (from step 4) neatly on a clean sheet of paper.

Do not skip this step. This is an important part of the process of ensuring you follow through.

6. Tell someone you can count on what you are doing and by when, and why it is so important for you to do this and actually follow through on it.

Give them a copy of your one page summary from step 5 and ask them to relentlessly hold you accountable.

7. Get started with the first step NOW.

Don’t pat yourself on the back that you did steps 1-6. Get into action by taking at least the first step right away. DO NOT WAIT!

Keep that one page in front of you every day until you are done. After you complete the first 3 tasks, add the next 3 and do them.

It takes 21 days to instill a new habit. Do this for 21 days so the habit of action has a chance to stick. Keep going until you are done and the Law of Motion will fuel whatever is next.

Ready. Set. GO!



Image credit: gl0ck33 / 123RF Stock Photo


Enter A Comment

Joy Guthrie   |   14 November 2013   |   Reply

Great post Susan. Research backs you up. If you can really envision a successful goal, you can achieve it. Thanks for sharing the steps.

Susan Mazza   |   14 November 2013   |   Reply

Thank you Joy! I actually created these steps originally to help myself. It is amazing how we can resist putting those clear and specific goals on paper. I find even though I am a coach, I too need support in this, especially in ensuring I stay focused and follow through and don’t get distracted as I am a self proclaimed idea-junkie!

Jon Mertz   |   15 November 2013   |   Reply


Great steps to get unstuck. Telling others about what you are doing will help provide the incentive and accountability to the steps forward. When they hold us accountable, we need to be open to the feedback and the challenge to get back on track. Getting the consistency of action toward a new objective is so vital. We need to have the strength of will to do the work.



Susan Mazza   |   15 November 2013   |   Reply

Yes Jon, accountability is indeed vital to sustaining the will to follow through. For many (myself included) it is easier to keep a commitment to others than to themselves. Personally I find by inviting someone into the role of holding me to my commitments to myself it somehow shifts the context from mustering willpower to being compelled forward to keep my commitment. Yet like you suggest, you truly must be willing to be held accountable!

Amber-Lee Dibble   |   15 November 2013   |   Reply

I haven’t been over in quite awhile… I am really enjoying having these posts come straight to me! But I had to come over and say this is wonderful. We all do it, that’s true. But you know, I hadn’t really thought of it in these words before..

Dealing with the Winter-Blues and the depression that comes with the dark, it is even more difficult to get moving again if I allow myself to come to a stop. What I have found since understanding how much accomplishing helped me to stay focused is that “pushing through” (I wrote a post about it recently) not only gets the job done, it smooths the way for more creative ideas and flow.

Thank you for this.

Susan Mazza   |   16 November 2013   |   Reply

Thanks so much Amber-Lee. It’s always great to see you here!

I cannot even imagine living in so much darkness. Here’s to staying in the flow so your inner light can continue to shine it way through the darkness!

Tom Wilson   |   17 November 2013   |   Reply

Before you can think outside the box, you need to understand the nature of the box you are in. Here is a practical method for punching a hole through the box of inaction for peek at the territory beyond.

Susan Mazza   |   19 November 2013   |   Reply

So true Tom! We all need a clear path to get outside of our own box at times. As you point out the first step is often recognizing that you are stuck in a box!

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  • From Idea to Action: 7 Steps to Getting Unstuck... 14 November 2013, 14 November 2013

    […] Have you ever had a really great idea, something you just knew you should do, yet somehow you did not act on it? Perhaps you even wrote it down while sincerely thinking to yourself, "I am going to …  […]