Skip to Content

How To Develop an Action Plan When You Have No Goals

Have you ever felt lost in life? Like you’re not sure what your next move is, what you want, or where to start? If you lack goals, ambition, and motivation, listen up — you’re not a lost cause.

Everyone (seriously, everyone) goes through ups and downs. Some days we know what we want, other days we rethink every single detail. Life is full of seasons. You might find that years ago you were on a very particular path, but over the years your wants and needs completely shifted.

Hey — it’s okay! We promise.

When you seem to be lacking direction, it’s time to rethink your goals. We all need to set goals so we have something to work toward. You’re not excused from this practical life skill! If you’re feeling a little lost and a touch goal-less, consider taking these next steps.

How To Get Focused When You Have No Goals

1. Make a master list of all the things you want in life.

Isn’t it totally motivating to look at your life on paper? We think so! Grab a blank pad and get to writing. Jot down all the things you want in life. Whatever it is, write it down!

No “want” is too big or too small. Get specific as you possibly can with your list. Here are some examples:

  • Don’t just say I want a pet. Write “I want to adopt an Australian shepherd.”
  • Want to buy a house? Be specific. Write: “I want to live in a small neighborhood in a four bedroom house with a yard big enough for a pool and my dog and great natural lighting.”
  • Trying to lose weight? Write: “I want to lose 20 pounds in the next 12 months.”

Whatever your list looks like, those are the milestones you need to identify and study. This master list is your vision board, and it’s okay if it changes over time. The more specific you are with what you want in life, the more likely you are to attract exactly what you desire.

[Tweet “The more specific you are with what you want in life, the more likely you are to attract exactly what you desire.”]

Now you’ll need to ask yourself a hard question: What can you do differently in your routine to work toward achieving them? 

notebook and pen with a clock and cup of desk supplies

2. Map out actionable steps — and do them. 

Turn your wants into more than dreams. It’s time to get down to business. Take your list and start adding some timelines around things.

For example, if you want to lose weight, start with a small action you can take this week. Consider counting calories for a day to track your calorie intake. Make a fitness plan for the next seven days. You don’t need to map out the month, just focus on the next week. Or, even more simply, clean out the junk food in your house.

When you start taking action, you’re taking the steps toward achieving your goal. It takes discipline, but you can do it!

Don’t get so caught up in making the plan that you are no longer motivated to follow it. Being too strict can lead to overwhelm which will keep you from moving forward.

Another tip? Don’t make your plan start tomorrow — start today. Your plan for setting and reaching your goals doesn’t begin tomorrow or next week. It starts today, and even in some cases, it might start right now. Don’t give yourself permission to wait.    

3. Measure your actions.

With most goals, consistency is key to actually achieve them. Saving money requires setting funds aside from every paycheck. Losing weight requires exercising and eating well the majority of the time.

You can’t flake out or do it when you feel like it. That’s not to sound harsh, but rather honest. Success is found in consistency. Reaching your goals means doing the action even when you don’t feel like it in the moment.

Track how many days per week or month you’re working toward your goal(s). When you measure your success, it helps you stay accountable!

Related: 100 Monthly Goal Ideas To Be Intentional With Your Time

Quantify your actions and goals as much as possible. This essentially means putting a number, date or metric with them wherever you can. You want your metrics to be achievable. Otherwise you’ll be discouraged and find it difficult to stay consistent. 

[Tweet “Success is found in consistency.”]

4. Develop a “rewards” system. 

Don’t *only* be motivated by outside rewards. You’re not a donkey chasing a carrot. You are very capable of setting goals and reaching them for the only reward of simply achieving them.

But if you need a little nudge, create some sort of rewards system to treat yourself. It has to make sense for the goal(s) you’re working toward, but perhaps each day you get an extra 30 minutes of television, or a small piece of chocolate, or at the end of the month you can treat yourself to a massage.

Sometimes our minds need some external motivation but it can be to our detriment to learn to rely on outside motivators to reach our goals.

Whatever motivates you, while also helping you achieve your goals (as in, doesn’t contradict the thing you’re working toward), can be the motivational factor you need to be consistent. Give it a try!

5. Take it slow.

Slow and steady wins the race, as the saying goes! Let’s get real — you were lost in life, right? You were feeling low and goal-less. It’s not realistic to do a 180-degree spin cold turkey.

You need time to adjust your routine accordingly to accommodate these newfound goals you want to reach. Be patient with yourself. Even taking what feels like forever to attain something you want in life is better than never trying at all. Good things take time – so take it slow!

Habits rarely change overnight. But there are extremely effective strategies you can implement to make long-lasting and positive changes in your life. You can read more about how to do that here.

It’s no easy feat to suddenly introduce goal-setting into your life. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this serves as a good reminder that all of us need to set goals.

When you have attainable “wants,” life is just that much better. It gives your purpose and you get excited the closer and closer you get to that thing you so desperately want. Don’t walk through life stumbling with no direction. Put yourself on the necessary path to enrich your life with the things you want and deserve. We believe in you!

[Tweet “Don’t walk through life stumbling with no direction. Put yourself on the necessary path to enrich your life with the things you want and deserve.”]

About the Author

Rachael Warren (Tulipano)

Rachael is a University of Southern Maine graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and a minor in Sociology. She remotely works full-time as a Senior Content Marketing Specialist for Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. In her leisure time, Rachael enjoys traveling with her husband, finding the next Netflix series to binge, and taking too many photos of her dogs Jax and Kai. Rachael is obsessed with chapstick, favors the Oxford comma, and is a proud Mainer. You'll likely find her exploring New England + beyond.