Small deeds done is better than great deeds planned. - Peter Marshall
In case you missed this week’s Change School TV episode, Grace shares on the importance of taking action, why so many of us struggle with it, and helpful tips for becoming more action-oriented.
We all have the capacity for change. Yet, the irony is that most of struggle with moving from ideas to action in order to make change a reality.
Why? Because most people confuse motion with action. Motion creates the foundation for action, but it does not produce a result. Action drives outcomes and allows us to move forward. Motion is doing research online, gathering information, thinking, planning, or reading books. Action is about implementation, execution, and application of learning - in other words, getting things done. The key to success is focusing on setting our motions into action in order to reach a desired goal.
Some of the most common reasons why so many people get ‘stuck’ in motion are:
Over-planning. You have an idea, get super excited about it, and start the planning process. But instead of setting a time limit for planning, this phase can become so drawn out that we lose motivation when it comes time to implement.
Over-thinking. You want to do something but all the chatter in your brain stops you from taking that first step: How do I start? What if I fail? What will other people think? We get stuck in our own heads - worrying, trying to anticipate all possible outcomes, and end up losing motivation before ever getting started.
Being a perfectionist. It might seem counter-intuitive, but perfectionism is the number one killer of productivity. It’s unrealistic to think you can do something perfectly on the first try. We learn by making mistakes, getting feedback, and improving as we go. Giving your all to achieve a goal is not failure; failing only comes when we decide not to act.
Procrastination. Many of us have a habit of leaving things to the last minute. Some people work well under pressure, but for many people, this only adds pressure and stress to the execution process. Setting time limits to complete a task and giving yourself ample time to get the thing done is the best way to set yourself up for success.
Failing to set goals. We all have big hairy goals in life - ideas about who we want to become. But the difference between what you are and what you want to be is what you do. It’s easy to get distracted when we’re confused about our goals. When this happens, we either burnout running in a million different directions, or we get stuck and find ourselves exactly where we started.
Here are 5 simple steps to avoid these pitfalls and become more action-oriented in life:
ELIMINATE NEGATIVE MENTAL HABITS
The first step is to identify the obstacles that are standing in your way. Do this by making a list of all the doubts, worries, and uncertainties that are preventing you from taking action. If you’re thinking to yourself: I already know what’s stopping me, I don’t need to write it down. Think again (well, not really). This is a tell-tale sign that you may be prone to living in your head - that’s motion in your head. Set that motion into action by putting your thoughts down on paper so and be confronted with it. Acknowledge those negative thoughts for what they are - self-limiting beliefs and excuses for not taking action - then throw them away. They are not serving you, so get rid of them.
The next step to getting yourself into action mode is to stop believing that something needs to happen first. Here are 5 common beliefs to debunk immediately in order to switch gears and start making things happen. Stop waiting for….
Motivation. Motivation is a result of taking action, not a cause. Shedding that first pound, getting that first response from a job application, landing that first interview, finally publishing that first blog post. Results motivate us to keep going, but you have to do something first.
Instant gratification. Our obsession with quick-fixes, fast-results and short-cuts give us false hopes about how success is achieved. Success takes time, persistence and raw hard work - no exceptions.
More information. Knowledge is no longer a scarcity. You can research, talk to people and read books ‘til the cows come home, but if you aren’t implementing what you learn, you’re just wasting time.
Validation. People are full of opinions and unsolicited advice - this is just more noise and distraction. Get out there and make your own mistakes so you can learn from them first-hand. Ideas are cheap; real experience is invaluable.
Certainty. There are no guarantees in this life, only possibilities. Choose progress over perfection, excellence over mediocrity, risk-taking over playing-it-safe.
CLARIFY YOUR INTENTION
It’s nearly impossible to get into action when you don’t know where you’re headed or why you want to get there. Here is where thinking and planning is critical, but it shouldn’t take much time to clarify your why, define the desired goal, and identify the smallest action steps you can take right away. All you need to do is answer these four questions:
What would the next level of my life look like?
Write down all the positives - What if you landed that dream job, launched your new business idea, published your first article, or shed those extra pounds? What could you do then that you can’t do now? The key is to focus on the positive aspects 10x more than the negative ones. Ask yourself: What is my main reason for completing a task?
What is the desired goal?
Remember that the bigger goal is to take action, so don’t get carried away. We all have multiple things we want to do, but the aim here is to pick one and focus all your efforts on achieving it. Do this once successfully, and you’ll be able to repeat the process as many times as you want.
How will I feel when it’s finally done?
Take a moment to reflect on how your life will be better once you’ve achieved your goal. The key is to focus on the positive aspects 10x more than the negative ones. This is where inspiration comes from - the light at the end of the tunnel.
What is the smallest step I can take right away to get started?
The only way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by our bigger goals is by breaking them down into smaller, achievable steps. The goal here is not to make it successful, but to do one thing that gets you closer to your end-goal. If it works, you’ve made progress. If it doesn’t, the experience will only make you better, wiser, and stronger.
Now that you’ve got everything you need, it’s time to take that first step. Tick off that first to-do, get that first response, and start building momentum. No more thinking, planning or obsessing over the outcome - there’s no way of knowing what will happen until you actually do something. So hop to it!
REFLECT & REFINE
If you’ve made this far, give yourself a pat on the back! You’re one step closer to achieving your bigger goal. Reflect on what worked and what didn’t. What did you learn? What new perspectives did you gain? How can you make improvements? Go back to your plan and refine as needed. Then swing back into action and keep moving forward!
Download this week’s FREE Get Into Action Workbook to help you work through these steps.
Check out these links for more side-hustle inspiration and ideas: