How to Turn Hopes into Actions

Base your plans on actions to bring your dreams into reality.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #451

Put consequences in place

Now it’s time for the carrot and the stick, rewards and punishments. The celebrations you have planned are the carrot. Reach your deadline, get a carrot. Easy-peasy. For goal-oriented people, all you need is carrots. Lots and lots of carrots. All that Vitamin A gives goal-oriented people great eyesight.

But if you’re like me, you occasionally need a bit of stick-based motivation, too. Put consequences in place for not taking the action you’ve identified.

If you’ve decided to create a test wall out of toothpicks as a first step in building your dream house, make sure there are consequences to not taking the action. Put $100 in a jar for your shmoopie. In the unlikely event that you don’t take action to build your toothpick wall, Shmoopie has permission to use the $100 to buy a polyester pants suit that matches your fuschia wallpaper. Then you have to wear the pants suit to work. With consequences like that, who needs the threat of secret military courts, mass surveillance, and “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Trust me. You’ll have those toothpicks in action lickity split. 

You’ve sprinkled your seeds through brainstorming. You’ve watered them with deadlines. 

You’ve sprinkled your seeds through brainstorming. You’ve watered them with deadlines. And consequences are the sweet, sweet fertilizer to help make sure they grow. 

Don’t measure success based on outcome

One important subtlety: When you’re putting in place your celebrations and your consequences, don’t base them on your outcomes; base them on your effort. The point isn’t to have a toothpick wall completed. Heck, you might discover a toothpick wall isn’t even feasible for building your dream house (hint: it isn’t). Instead, success means taking action on Dream Home Hope. You only have to wear the pants suit—excuse me, get to wear the pants suit—if you fail to buy the toothpicks. And you’ve earned your celebration as long as you end up covered with toothpick splinters and glue and decide that next week, calling a realtor might be easier.

Turn your Hopes into Do's by brainstorming actions that will move you closer to your hopes. Give your actions deadlines, and give your deadlines consequences. Reward yourself for taking action, as long as that action is genuinely in pursuit of your hope. Soon, the garden of your hopes will grow big and strong. And with luck, you’ll make your dreams come true, even if none of your plants are Audrey IIs.

This is Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. I run programs to help people have Extraordinary Lives and extraordinary careers. If you want to know more, visit http://SteverRobbins.com

Work Less, Do More, and have a Great Life!


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.