How to Go From Decision to Action in 3 Steps

You make a major life decision.

Now that the decision is made, you breathe a deep sigh of relief.

How pleasant to have finally made up your mind.

You bathe in this relief for about 90 seconds.

Then it hits you: Uh oh. Now I need to live out this decision!

The bottom of your stomach drops out. The hard part has just begun.

So how in the world, do we go from decision to action?

You got a nifty framework for this one too, Ryan?

Um… hell’s yeah, I do!

Be who you are. Do what you do.

Before jumping right into our Decision to Action Framework, one point of clarification is in order.

Living out major life decisions is not just about what you do. It’s also about who you are.

Great living comes down to two factors: integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands.

You need the being and the doing. The heart and the hands.

Our framework, therefore takes both into account.

Note: I first encountered this framework at CTI, where they train Co-Active coaches. Co = being. Active = doing.

Step 1: Take Inventory

First, take a two-part inventory of your decision. For this case study, let’s assume that you decided to quit your job to move to Barcelona.

Part 1 (Being): examine your decision as it pertains to who you are as a person Part 2 (Doing): examine your decision in light of key activities that you’ll need to take and strategies that you’ll need to employ.

In Part 1 of your inventory, you’ll answer this question:

Who do I need to be to live out this decision well?

Here are some more specific questions (with sample answers) to help make it more concrete:

  • How does my decision align with my life purpose? It gives me a new venue through which to live out my life purpose of constantly pushing the boundaries of exploration for myself and others.

    I am one who pushes the boundaries of exploration for myself and others.

  • How does my decision honor my values? It honors my value of adventure as well as my value of being a constant learner.

    I am an adventurer and a constant learner.

  • What does my best-self say about the decision? Your best-self is simply the best version of yourself. The version that is always fearless, always secure, and always knows the right thing to do.

    “Great work making a difficult decision. You are in for quite an adventure. Watch out Barcelona!”

    I am capable of making difficult decisions and living them out.

  • What does my realist say about the decision? Your realist is your inner-voice of pragmatism that keeps you grounded and propels you to action.

    “Excellent choice. Now let’s make it a reality by taking action.”

    I am an action taker.

In Part 2, of your inventory, you’ll answer this question:

What do I need to do to live out this decision well?

Here are some more specific questions (with sample answers) to help make Part 2 more concrete:

  • What key next steps do I need to take now? I need to plan how I am going to gracefully break the news to my boss. As well, I need to set concrete departure date.

  • What other resources do I need to access to ensure success? I need to identify and connect with an ex-pat community in Barcelona so that I’ll have a community of people with a shared experience to show me the ropes.

Here’s a visual of the Inventory stage:

Step 2: Saying Yes Means Saying No

Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘No’. - Book of Matthew

Now that you know who you are in relation to this decision as well as what you need to do to make it happen, it’s time to get really specific.

Saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else.

Therefore list out all the things that you are going to need to say “Yes” to as a part of this decision, AND list out all of the things that you need to say “No” to.

Do this for both for who you will need to be and what you will need to do.

Who are you going to have to say yes (and no) to being?
What are you going to have to say yes (and no) to doing?

Some examples:


  • I say yes to being an adventurer,
  • I say no to being a pushover who backs down at the first sign of resistance.


  • I say yes to handing in my resignation tomorrow.
  • I say no to avoiding a difficult conversation with my boss.

Here’s a visual:

Step 3: Make It Real

Now that you’ve identified your Yeses and No’s, take one Yes and one No for both who you need to be and what you need to do and commit to them.

Here are the two best ways to ensure follow through on these commitments:

  • Make it public. Let people in general know about your decision and the commitments you’ve made. Voicing your intentions makes them more real.

    As well, people will unknowingly hold you accountable. They’ll ask questions like, “How’s your move to Barcelona shaping up?”

  • Make it personal. Elect one or two people to hold you specifically accountable for your yes and no commitments. Set up a time to check in with them and report on your progress.

And I’m spent.

Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.

Do you find it difficult to go from decision to action? Was this framework helpful?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “How to Go From Decision to Action in 3 Steps

  1. I’ve found step 3 helps me a lot. I went public for the first time listing out all my goals for the year. I went a bit overboard with the number of things I want to do, but since I put them all out there, I’m extra motivated to acting on all of them. I published an update on my progress last month which also helped boost my momentum on the things I’ve been lagging on. I gotta go work on my Hindi and Thai phrases! -Sydney