Stop Thinking and Start Doing: A Goal Setting Starter Plan

If you’re an overwhelmed overthinker who can’t seem to actually stop thinking and start doing, this post is for you! As part of setting powerful goals, you need to create a starter plan that will help you take action. This post will show you how… 

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Why It’s So Difficult To Accomplish Goals As An Overthinker

Most people fall into one of these two camps:

“I love setting goals and crushing them faster than expected.”

-or-

“I’m afraid to set goals. By the time I research and then think through every possible step and outcome, it always seems like I’ve missed the best opportunities.”

If you’re in the second group, then I’m right there with you! Deciding on goals and actually accomplishing anything is an everyday struggle for overthinkers, one that I know all too well.

The reality is that you’re NEVER going to be as productive as you THINK you should be or it SEEMS like everyone else is.

What you need to realize is — that’s okay!

You just need to work differently and set expectations for yourself that are NOT based on what you BELIEVE everyone else is doing.

Sometimes productivity articles from super-accomplished people can be a little depressing. While we rejoice in the fact that there are people who are out there “crushing it,” we overthinkers feel like we will never catch up.

If you are going through the same thing, keep reading… I’ve got some suggestions to help!

I’m going to throw myself out there as an example. There are SO MANY things I think I should be working toward all.the.time. In addition to all of the regular life stuff that needs to be done, I love blogging and writing and decluttering and home DIY projects and reading and….

You get the idea? But, I had to face the fact that trying to do all of those things at the same time meant I wasn’t getting anywhere. I simply cannot have multiple goals at.the.same.time.

This is what I’m doing now, and I hope you can find takeaways to make this goal setting starter plan work for you…

How to Start Setting Realistic Goals as an Overthinker

Your preliminary work will be to fill out a dreams and goals worksheet.

(Click here to have the printable worksheet sent to your inbox.)

This will get your imagination going and help you start seeing possibilities for what amazing things you COULD make happen in your life.

Then, do a brain dump of all.the.things. in your head.

This list will be long, and it should include vague future goals as well as all of the little tasks you keep putting off.

When you’re done, move the little tasks to a separate list. Block time daily or weekly to knock out a few of these at a time, but don’t let them distract you right now. If you leave them on your “big things” list, they will take your focus off your main goal.

Once the little things are off your list, forget about them until your scheduled time block.

Tip: DON’T divide your “big things” list into different priorities like professional, personal, health, home, family, etc. For overthinkers, that’s a recipe for overwhelm, indecision, and failure. 

Next, take 30 seconds to force yourself to choose the most important goal or task from your “big things” list.

How do you know what’s most important? Simply put, it’s the thing that bothers you all the time — the goal or task that your mind dwells on no matter what else you are doing. This is THE ONE THING you will work on.

I know, I know, it feels like you should be doing a little something in every area.

It’s tempting to make a priority goal for each section of your life. But if you do that, you’re going to be right back where you started — overwhelmed and unable to make a decision or get anything done.

Your Action Starter Plan

Now, break your ONE goal into actionable steps that you want to accomplish in the next two weeks. Two weeks is an optimal amount of time for most overthinkers to actually make good progress on a goal. It’s long enough to develop momentum and motivation and short enough to force us to really get moving.

You’re not writing a how-to volume here. Just spend 10 minutes to work out the basics. You can always break it down more as you’re working, such as when you’re doing daily planning.

Don’t get caught up in the “first I need to…” procrastinating actions that will push the actual beginning of working toward your ONE THING off for hours, days, or weeks.

Allowing yourself to do all of those little things first means you will NEVER succeed at what you REALLY want to do.

Ready to take action on your own goals? Grab The Goal Journey Annual Goal Planner — This printable goal planner is designed to streamline your goal-setting process, allowing you to focus on one goal at a time and adapt as life evolves. Get the extra stuff out of your head, let go of the regrets and ‘should-dos,’ and start accomplishing the goals that really matter to YOU.

Action Steps for Working Toward Your Goal

To give yourself the best chance of success, be sure to implement my 5 vital action starters for goals. Then, start doing this…

Every day, set a schedule of tasks with time limits. Using a simple daily planner or a printable daily planner sheet can help you visualize the task/time relationship and keep track of your progress.

Choose the ONE TOP TASK and make that your focus for the day. Draw a box around that task with your favorite colored pen or marker — it should be the ONLY thing you notice when you glance at that paper.

I know you think you need to do all 19 things on your list, but it’s not going to happen in one day. You know this. I know this. We don’t like to admit it, but it’s the truth.

However, if you get that ONE TOP TASK done, you will be incredibly motivated to knock out the next task.

Believe me, you CAN surprise yourself by what you can do in a day, but don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself to start with. Set a time limit for your task. Then double it. Just trust me on this.

(Eventually I would love to write a post about how to get things done in the same amount of time as “regular” people, but, well… I have to figure out how to DO that. For now, it’s all about getting SOMETHING done.)

Now I just worry about ONE FOCUS. (<– That’s my book on Amazon.  🙂 )

Mockup image of paperback and digital covers for The ONE FOCUS Method book.

Tips to NOT Get Stuck, Overwhelmed, or Distracted

There are several things you’ll want to remember — and DO — in order to keep yourself on track and moving forward.

1. Limit your information intake

If you’re in the planning stage for a project, blog post, whatever… don’t allow yourself to get stuck.

Stop reading books and blog posts about how to do things related to your goal. Limit your research to something reasonable — say 1-2 SHORT books and 3 articles. That’s enough. You really will have the information you need to move on.

2. Scale down the advice you read

For example, new bloggers are usually told to be very active on at least three social media platforms.

I tried that for months and was getting burned out. I realized that even with scheduling programs, I can’t keep up with that and I do not want to hire someone to do it for me. I made the decision to concentrate on only one thing — Pinterest — and let the other platforms go for now. (By the way, would you believe my blog traffic went up after doing that?!)

3. Don’t split your focus

As you get more comfortable with your daily capabilities and accomplishments, don’t get distracted by multiple other goals.

Just because you’re making progress working toward the one “big thing” doesn’t mean you can start adding various tasks related to all of your other goals. It’s not going to work.

If you think of something new that you “need” to do, add it to your master list. For a while it may seem like your list just keeps growing, but you really will start working through the list. Some things will also naturally become unimportant or fall off the list completely. Don’t feel bad about that.

4. Work intensely for 2 weeks

You’ll want to pause and evaluate your progress about every two weeks. Personally, that’s about how long I can maintain focus and strong motivation to accomplish the most I possibly can on one goal.

At this point, you can decide to do another 2-week focus session on the same goal or move on to something different.

Tips for Calling Your ‘Big Thing’ Goal DONE

It may have taken you longer than you wanted (doesn’t it always?), but eventually you will be on the brink of accomplishing your goal. This is where things get exciting and scary.

Don’t let yourself overthink! Don’t get scared, pull back, and decide you need to do more research or tweaking.

You can always fix the little things later. Give your “big thing” time to work (whatever it is — a new blog, a book, a product, a new family routine or cleaning schedule…) and don’t constantly monitor the progress every.second.of.the.day. Once a day or once a week is enough!

Now it’s time to move on to your next goal/project!

More Reading for Goal and Action Motivation

The Ultimate Getting Your Life Together Checklist

5 Ways Overwhelmed Overthinkers Can Beat Procrastination

One Simple Tip to Break the Procrastination Habit – Our Heritage of Health

How to Develop Your Finishing Instinct: The Magic Final Step to Real Productivity

5 Time Management Tips to Achieve Your Dream Life – Mom’s Small Victories

You CAN be successful at setting goals and crushing them. Just because it may take you longer doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Focus on ONE GOAL and don’t give up! 

Click here to have the goal-setting steps printable sent to your inbox and get started on your goals today!


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32 thoughts on “Stop Thinking and Start Doing: A Goal Setting Starter Plan”

  1. I truly appreciate this post as I really needed to hear that I cannot achieve them all if I have too much of a long list of goals trying to accomplish all at the same time. Oh, I’ve got work to do to simplify my life! Thanks so much Julie.

  2. I have been working on my 2017 goals. I do sometimes worry that i am not achieving as much as others, but have to realize that I am doing what is right for me. #Pitstop

    1. Hi Michele! First, way to go on thinking ahead and working on your goals! I think getting to the point where we realize simple goals are okay is an incredibly important personal milestone. Now, let’s get busy achieving those goals!

  3. Hi Julie, thanks for sharing my time management steps for achieving your dream life. I am easily overwhelmed so I really need to focus on the small victories along the way to my dream life. I am great at setting goals but I am easily distracted too. This year my goal is to focus and be intentional with my time.

  4. Does anyone find that having daily To-do lists helps? Even it is only one or two things? Also, would you write down your goal/goals for each day and if so, where do you suggest?

    1. Hi Michael! Yes, I always have a to-do list going, but at any given time I try to only concentrate on one thing. I like to do a brain dump (big list) on a piece of notebook paper or in a spreadsheet program that I can print out. From there I keep segmented lists in a planner or notebook. Each day I have one thing that is my goal or big to-do. Let me know if that helps, or if you have any more questions!

  5. Liz at HopeForTheHectic

    Oh my goodness, it’s like you have been in brain, or watched me try to accomplish something. I never put the word “overthinker” to myself, but it’s so accurate! And recognizing that alone will help me. These tips are great. Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Liz! LOL – I knew there had to be more people like me out there! 😉 Thanks for visiting and I’m so glad you could find something here to help you. I hopped over to visit your blog and love it! Keep posting!

  6. Humble Yourself With Me-Vicky

    I love your blog an dhave subscribed to a couple different things I’m all about be a minimialist, time managment skills to be better and conquering my goals! Thank you visit me at beehumblewithme.com

    1. Hi Vicky! Thank you for subscribing and for your kind comment! I hope you have found something to help you accomplish your goals. By the way… I love the graphics on your blog, very nice! 🙂

      1. Humble Yourself With Me-Vicky

        Thank you I ams o glad you like it! I am always trying to better my goals or find a way to!

  7. This is so helpful. I am guilty of planning something to death and never starting. I’m the queen of setting goals, planning them out, and breaking them down, but I hit a brick wall in actually implamenting the steps. I know I need less details and more doing.

    1. Hi Raquel! As someone who has the exact same problem, I can STRONGLY encourage you to find that ONE thing you really want to accomplish, and start working on it TODAY. As in, actually DO something. It’s a constant fight to not get caught in the planning stages, but once you finish one or two things and realize that you actually CAN reach some goals, it gets a little easier to keep moving. Thanks for the comment, and be sure to let me know how things go for you! 🙂

  8. Thank you for the tips! They are really helpful. I experience this ALL the time, especially when starting something new. Information overload :s

  9. I am the Queen of half done jobs as a result of being an overplanner and overthinker. I have stacks of jobs I’ve started because I “should” then abandon them for the next task. Grrrr. I had to make a list of those tasks to try to see what is a priority.

  10. I am a recovering overthinker, so this is the process that I return to every month, every week, and every single day. Thanks for reminding me that sticking to a system will eventually get me where I want to be (and not on the couch, flipping on Netflix with a merlot in my clutches and a 2 hour nap that follows!). —I REALLY have made tremendous progress in this area! Thanks for sharing. ??

  11. Hi Julie! Wow! This is SO me!! I over think & overanalyze everything! If I could get paid for making “to do” lists I’d be rich! Not very productive but rich! Lol I’m currently dealing w/many adversaries (i.e.medical, employment,transportation,etc) so I’m home all day every day. There are things I’d like to try like blogging, or worshipping, etc & I spend a LOT of time finding resources (blog posts, webinars,books,etc) but then I miss the webinar ..probably because I’m making another list lol and you’re right…You’ll never reach your BIG goal for thinking about all the “little things” to do! I’m also a perfectionist and very hard on myself when things don’t get done ! So THANK YOU!! Thank you for this great info & it helps to know I’m not the only overthinker out there! Now , with the help of your checklist & post, maybe I will finally accomplish my big goal!! Thanks so much ! p.s. I spend hours on Pinterest (I love DIY crafts in , go figure, many areas !) But all I do is SAVE … because I don’t have time to actually try anything!” Now maybe I will have time to try something I’ve saved! (Eventually ..not right away!) ?

  12. Julie, you sound so much like me it’s scary.
    So glad I found this group. Years ago a coworker told me I think too much. Have gotten better but still not where I would like to be. Some days I’m going so many ways at one time that I think I have ADD. Love the phrase “mind dump”. Many days that is exactly what I need to do to make progress.

  13. This is a great post! It’s true that having plans and goals in life is great but sometimes we tend to just plan and plan but never do anything to reach those goals. Love this list! This is very helpful. Thank you so much for this 😊

  14. I am glad I am not the only person that is an overthinker, crazy list-maker, get-next-to-nothing done procrastinator. This is a great post. I am however (for my big goal) trying to figure out how to not go overboard with thinking again. My big goal is to declutter a furniture filled messy house. I have read many (probably too many) blog posts about how to declutter when overwhelmed and each have had their own unique styles, but I am finding myself making never ending lists and no work. Do I break down this big goal into areas of the house (say declutter living room is big goal #1)? I am getting back to the stuck feeling from overthinking and endless lists. Before I end up writing a novel here, I will also add how much I have loved the brain dump process over the years. This makes prioritizing and visually seeing what you want accomplished less overwhelming. Once it’s organized it makes me feel like I already accomplished a little something. Thank you for this great post.
    Kayla

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