How to Turn Your Intentions Into Achievable Goals

Updated on June 9, 2020
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok has a Master of Science degree. He enjoys researching topics related to health, relationships, and emotional well-being.

We all tend to let things sometimes go without taking action. Usually, it’s because we’re busy with life as it is. But those undone tasks could have been significant game-changers.

Now you're upset with yourself because you knew you once intended to achieve a particular goal. The truth is, you need to know what’s important to you. Otherwise, you might reach burnout before getting started.

I’ll help you recognize your true intentions and focus your energy on the right places.


Take It One Step at a Time

Anticipating the end-result might cause stress because it’s unfamiliar to us. I always found it easier to get somewhere by taking things one small step at a time. Every step closer allows us to get used to the new reality gradually. That is how we can get somewhere without feeling stressed.1

Besides, we may not have all the options available to get where we're going immediately. However, we can always start with whatever choices we have.

Pursuing our goals in any way that works for us is essential for success with any endeavor in life. If taking small steps makes it doable, then do it that way. Start by taking that first step.

Can You Do This?

It's not that you can't do it. It's that you think you can't. Get that thought out of your head. I'll explain how.

These three things are necessary to make an effective plan to achieve your goals, and I'll discuss each of these in detail below:

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Vision
  3. Action

You Need to Believe in Yourself

You need to have confidence in your ability to succeed. Think about something significant you accomplished in the past that you completed without anything holding you back.

Now, try to remember what it was that made that work.

  • Did you just get started without thinking about it? Sometimes overthinking makes us procrastinate. Sometimes it’s best just to do things without further judgment.
  • Did you plot a clear path to your goal in your mind and follow it? That usually helps us stay focused until the end.

Give yourself credit for your prior accomplishments. When you recall situations that prove you can manage something new, you will have the confidence to do it again.

Develop a Detailed Plan With a Vision of the Outcome

Once you decide to do something, you need to develop a plan. Think of what's required to get started and the steps you need to take to move along to completion.

Write down these steps in the order you need to do them. This list will provide a visual representation, which makes it much easier to plot the required tasks.

Once you have the design of your plan, you'll have a good impression of what to expect along the way.

Take Action and Make Progress as Planned

I learned four crucial points from Benjamin Franklin’s book, "The Art of Virtue," that relates to achieving goals.2

Let’s review each of these items.

  1. Let each requirement for the goal have its place.

    It’s vital to keep every step leading to your goal in the proper order. There is an appropriate place for every required step. That means you need to begin with the most straightforward steps and continue with more involved actions as you proceed.

  2. Do without failure what's necessary.

    Don’t skip essential items that need to be resolved before going on to the next. You need to be determined to complete every necessary step.

  3. Waste no time. Avoid all unnecessary actions.

    If you find yourself doing things that are not related to achieving a specific goal, you’re wasting time. Pay attention to your actions and stay focused. Keep asking yourself, "Is this necessary for my purpose?"

  4. Don't be disturbed by unavoidable accidents.

    Life has a way of getting in the way. Don’t be too hard on yourself when an emergency occurs, or you need to tend to someone in your family who needs help. You can always turn back to what you were doing when things calm down.

Why Are You Still Procrastinating?

We usually have many things we want to accomplish, but that could become overwhelming. We need to determine what's essential and eliminate the rest. Then we'll find it easier to get motivated with the remaining tasks.

Drs. Sreenivasan and Weinberger, both Ph.D.s, explained in an article in Psychology Today that procrastination could be viewed in two ways.3

I learned from them that when I'm procrastinating, it's usually because that specific goal is not significant. My intentions are focused elsewhere, and I'm wasting energy, keeping it on my list of things to do. That wasted energy could be better applied to a goal I truly intend to accomplish.

I find that when I put my attention to something, I can make it happen—but only after I've determined that it's absolutely important to me.

Some things are just not that important. Don't waste your energy holding on to a plan if you know you really don't want to put effort into it anyway.

Try to be honest with yourself and decide what's essential in your life and what you actually want to achieve.

Crossroads To Get Back On Path

Sometimes we suddenly realize we were going down the wrong path and wasting our time working towards a goal that was the wrong choice. We let the ship pass us by, as the saying goes, that would have held a better opportunity.

Here's an analogy of a solution. Imagine if we can go back to a fork in the road and take another path. The path we followed may have been a tangent to the one we wanted to take. And if luck prevails, the two roads may be parallel to one another with crossroads here and there.

Sometimes, when we are lucky, a solution does appear for us, and we end up finding a crossroad in our life that appears every so often. It's important to recognize it when we come to a situation that suddenly allows us to make a turn and follow a different path.

When that happens, it's an opportunity to make a change. And if we are not ready for it, we'll miss it, and we'll let it pass by as two ships passing in the night.

When we come to crossroads, when our other ship passes by, embrace it and take advantage of it, for it may happen only once in a lifetime. That is an opportunity for us to analyze the situation and decide to take the other path, which could be the one we really wanted to follow.

In Conclusion, Stay Positive

When you know of something that you want to pursue, do your legwork and milk it for all it’s worth. Listen to people who are professionals at what they do. Surround yourself with positive thinkers.

Don’t let thoughts of failure stand in your way. Don't listen to people who tell you it can’t be done. Don’t let any negative forces interfere with your ability to move forward and to achieve what you have always intended to accomplish.

Stay positive with your intentions, and you will achieve your goals.


  1. Susan Weinschenk Ph.D. (Oct 16, 2013). "Use Small Steps to Motivate" - Psychology Today
  2. Benjamin Franklin. (June 1, 1996). "The Art of Virtue." Compiled from his miscellaneous writings by editor George L. Rogers. Acorn Publishing
  3. Shoba Sreenivasan, Ph.D. and Linda E. Weinberger, Ph.D. (Jun 15, 2018). "Procrastination Can Be Viewed Two Ways" - Psychology Today

© 2012 Glenn Stok


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    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      8 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Jo_Goldsmith11, Well, actually I have not been so good at that as you say. I have let ships pass in the past, and I regret it now. This is one reason why I write about these types of things, with hopes of saving someone else from making similar mistakes. I try to reflect on how I missed certain opportunities and look for ways to improve myself going forward, so as to still achieve goals that are not yet met. It's never too late. The best time to start is "now." Thanks for your kind words and for your vote up.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      8 years ago

      You are so right in every thought you have perfectly written here. I have saved this and will reflect on it when I have the doubts that sometimes come into my life. It appears you are not letting any ship pass you by. Good for you! I shared and a definite vote up! Thank you for this useful, awesome and interesting piece of art. :)

    • Glenn Stok profile imageAUTHOR

      Glenn Stok 

      8 years ago from Long Island, NY


      That is a very enlightening comment that you made and I thank you for that addition. I actually never gave thought to that concept. That over controlling our lives can interfere with being open to new ideas. 

      Not controlling our lives at all is definitely a bad thing. But over controlling is clearly bad too, as you had indicated. 

      We definitely need to have an open mind to new paths and concepts that may come along. So keeping a middle ground on our control is very important.

      I'm glad you like my concept of crossroads. You added an additional thought to my idea however. And that is that the crossroads may bring us to a better path than we had before. I like that. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Always good to see you around.

    • Sue B. profile image

      Sue B. 

      8 years ago


      I really liked this hub. I too ponder these things!

      I find myself in a situation now where I am making important decisions and what you wrote really spoke to me. I tend to be the person looking for a new way to move closer to my goal. I think it takes a lot of patience and perseverance not to give up.

      Your hub made me think about the thoughts I have had about determining our own destiny versus over-controlling our lives. Realizing you have more power over your life is great but too much of something is usually a bad thing. You describe people who have let go of their controls and gave up their power. The flip side is the person over-controlling their lives and not allowing new paths and new options they did not originally think of to unfold.

      I like what you wrote about the crossroads to get back on the path you want. What I find interesting is sometimes this crossroads, or alternate route, that brings you back to the original goal may even be a better way to get you to where you want to be.


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