By: Alex Moffett
My daughter has a saying that always makes me laugh, “Don’t talk about it, be about it.” It’s her version of “put your money where your mouth is” or “just do it.” I think it’s about “actions speaking louder than words.” Action. In my line of work, I have found that “action” is the bridge between procrastination and productivity. It’s a difference between failure and success. It’s what builds self-confidence and the only way to guarantee momentum for your personal goals, passion projects, and life in general! With all the benefits of active action-taking, why do so many of us choose inaction despite our responsibilities and goals?
Could it be we all suffer through a little process called “activation energy?” In chemistry and physics, activation energy is the minimum energy that is required to activate atoms or molecules to a condition in which they can undergo chemical transformation. In psychology, it’s the concept that it takes enormous energy just to start something. In other words, the hardest thing about doing anything is just getting started. After the initial start-up phase, it (whatever it is) actually becomes easier to maintain; this is what we call getting into the flow, keeping the momentum going. It is also noteworthy to know that there are two types of action-takers (depending on your personality and/or personal experiences). They are called “The Dreamer and “The Planner”. These styles may indicate what is really stopping you from taking action toward your life goals and passion projects. By discovering your style, you will also get to understand what kind of action most resonates with you, what actions you should be taking, and how they impact your goal. So which one are you?
THE DREAMER AND THE PLANNER
If you are The Dreamer, chances are you have lofty goals and are always talking about what you are going to do. You have plenty of grand and elaborate ideas of what you can achieve, but the problem is you have no specific plan to make it happen. The dreamer may spend more time conceptualizing than actually plotting out a viable plan of action to get there. Sadly, because of this, she may never fully realize her dreams. If this is you, please pay close attention to Quick Wins; this section is for you.
If you are The Planner, on the other hand, you may have many ideas and small/short goals that you have set for your big dream, but then you create so many to-do lists and little tasks that you end up overwhelming yourself with momentum paralysis and accomplish nothing. In short, the planner is so prone to lose sight of the big picture that she no longer sees the forest for the trees; like a deer in headlights, she freezes up and does nothing. If this is you, please read on to Massive Actions; this section is for you.
QUICK WINS AND MASSIVE ACTIONS
If you are a dreamer, then quick wins could mean the difference between success and failure. Notice I use the word “failure,” but failure only occurs when you give up. For someone like you who only sees the big picture; small, quick ones are integral to your success so you won’t give up.
So here are the rules to the Quick Wins game. Make a decision to do something towards your goal every day. Make sure you choose to work on something you feel you are already good at but just need to tweak or grow in. This way, you will feel stretched out of your comfort without losing all sense of confidence. Don’t overthink it, just do it! Your brain will always try to talk you out of doing the very thing that will push you forward. Don’t give in to it; just take your step! Make sure you write the task down. Making a list and checking it off will allow you to see that you’re actually making headway and will go a long way to ensure that you stay on course. Quick wins over time can empower, motivate, and develop confidence in yourself and competence in your skills. Lastly, quick wins set you up for big action steps that you will still have to take at some point. But if you can see yourself achieving the small wins, you will be more likely to attempt a bigger score when the time comes.
Now let’s talk about immediate massive action. If you’re a planner and usually get caught up in all the small details, immediate, massive action can really work for you. Because massive action steps will propel you toward your goal in such a big way, you will feel as if you’re making big strides, which you are!
So here’s how it works: You’ve got to make a decision. Massive action only works when you have decided to take a bold step toward your goal or your passion project. Decide on the step and then quickly take action. At this point, you may still be feeling the overwhelming temptation to shrink back after all; this is a massive action step but push past this and just do it! Consider your massive action proof positive that you are committed to your goal. A massive action step will require you to know that you know this is how you want to spend your time, energy, and/or resources. This may look like investing money in your business; it could be investing in a mentor for your personal growth or even making a public announcement about an upcoming event.
Massive actions always create accountability. If you have invested resources in a course, you are likely to finish the course and do well. This is why universities and good coaching programs are worth the price of the tuition. If you advertise that you’re having a grand opening and now have people looking forward to attending, you are more likely to make sure you follow through. Your actions have made you accountable. Once you’ve done it, just rinse and repeat; the more massive steps that you take and the bigger they get, the better the result is in the long term. Keep going!
So, whether you are a dreamer or a planner, the only way to move forward is just to start. Remember, if nothing changes, nothing changes. Your steps don’t need to be perfect; they just need to be taken. You will figure it out as you keep moving. AND… Action!