The Power of Taking Action
Whether you have too much to do do yet get too little done or you feel you can’t get started on anything, the fact is that you are avoiding taking action on the things you really want to accomplish.
This keeps you stuck and prevents you from moving forward, resulting in blocked energy. Either you feel frazzled from running around like a headless chicken or lethargic from having your head trapped in the sand.
You can break your pattern of either doing too much or procrastinating. Doing too much is often procrastination in disguise; filling your day with a million things that keep you busy, whilst keeping you from actually taking action on anything constructive. Common obstacles people come up with that keep them from getting their goals are limiting beliefs like “I won’t be able to do it well enough”, “I don’t have enough time” or “I can’t seem to get started”.
The key to taking action on what you really want is first getting clear on what your priorities are, then identifying the thoughts that come up and distract you from focusing on what you want to achieve and overcoming them; so that you can get to where you want to be as effortlessly as possible.
Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days. Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute; whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power and genius in it. Begin it now. – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Take Action – Seven Steps for Success
1. Spot Your Limiting Beliefs
Learning to spot your limiting beliefs can be tricky at first, but before you know it you’ll become a pro at noticing them and reclaim your personal power by choosing how to respond to them. You can cancel any thought that doesn’t support you in moving forward, at any time. Here are the main areas people get stuck and the corresponding thoughts that prevent them from taking action:
- Fear/Self doubt
“I don’t think I can do this”
“This is impossible”
“Other people can do this, but not me”
“I can’t do it well enough”
“I’ve got to get this 100% perfect”
“I’m too stressed/tired/unwell to deal with this”
“I am not the sort of person who can cope with all of this”
- Blaming other people
“My partner/boss/children/friend make it too difficult for me”
“It’s just not up to me”
“I don’t have enough time”
“I’m too busy”
“It’s going to take up too much time”
“I’d love to, but I can’t afford to”
“I should do it, I don’t want to”
“I just don’t care enough”
2. Learn to think in Positive Affirmations
Begin to notice the little voice in your head and observe the thoughts you have in relation to your goals, so that you can replace non-supportive beliefs with a more supportive way of thinking. You might have heard the saying “where attention goes, energy flows and results show”. It is true, you get what you focus on. So move away from negative limiting beliefs and replace them with positive affirmations. A positive affirmation is a statement you make in the present tense, to yourself, to counteract a negative belief. For example, instead of entertaining the thought “I can’t do this” chose instead to affirm “I can do this, and I can do it now!”.
3. Accept “Good Enough”
Perfectionism prevents many people from taking action. Become an imperfectionist by allowing yourself to do something “good enough”. Getting something done is better than getting nothing done, because you’ve put them off, waiting until you can do them perfectly.
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. – Julia Cameron
Let go of your obsession about having a perfect outcome, lower the bar, so that you can get started on what you want now. Ironically this will give you so much freedom that you’ll enjoy doing whatever it is you’ve been putting off until now and will probably end up doing a really great job!
4. Stress Less
Mental stress does not come from the problems that beset us, but from the irrational and false notions we have about them. – John Perry
It is our beliefs about incidents and events that determine how we respond to them. Often people have a tendency to magnify things and blow them up out of proportion “I failed my promotion interview, my career is in ruins”, “I missed the train – this is terrible” “We didn’t win the contract – it’s the end of the world”. And predict negative future outcomes “I am going to really embarrass myself in this meeting”, “If I make a mistake everyone will laugh at me”, “I bet everyone thinks I am an idiot”.
In order to change irrational thoughts to rational ones when a ‘stressful’ situation arises take a deep breath, relax your body and mind, pause for a moment and evaluate what actually happened. Notice that the event or situation is not life threatening. This will calm you down and help you put things into perspective. Become aware of how you perceive the situation. Are you viewing it as negative? Change your thoughts so that you ‘see’ it differently. Chose to see it positively.
For example, next time you are stuck in traffic instead of telling yourself that it is a total disaster, reframe the situation as a positive opportunity – see it as a chance to daydream about your next holiday or listen to that language CD you’ve been meaning to listen to.
By becoming aware of your perception of things you will able to chose to minimize rather than magnify the negativity of individual situations and predict successful outcomes rather than negative ones. The cumulative effect of doing this will be an inner sense of calm and wellbeing rather than overwhelm!
Having a ‘to do’ list the length of your arm can actually prevent you from taking action by causing overwhelm. Instead of looking at the million and one things you have to do and feeling as though you don’t know where to begin and then doing nothing, or doing the easiest thing on the list; pull out the number one priority for your day and get started on it. Choose the one thing that would be the most important to you if nothing else were to get done.
Break that thing down into smaller chunks.
Forget about the other items on your list and focus on taking the first small step towards completing your number one priority.
Don’t put it off. Get stuck in to it.
Once you’ve finished the first chunk, move on to the second, then the third and so on until you’ve completed the entire task, then repeat the whole process by choosing the next highest priority thing you want to do. Continue like this and before you know it you’ll be through your list in no time, feeling calm and content.
5. Stop Blaming – Start Embracing
The only person responsible for you, is you. The only person responsible for the actions you take, or don’t take is you too! You can not change other people, but you can change how you respond to them and how you perceive them. In The Work Byron Katie suggests that rather than supressing judgments we hold about others we can use them as starting points for self-realisation; what we see in other people is a mirror of what we haven’t yet realized about ourselves. So if you are putting of doing something because of what you think someone else should or shouldn’t do e.g. “Fred doesn’t support me enough – I need him to support me” try turning your statement around like this:
“He should support me” turns around to:
- He shouldn’t support me (This is reality)
- I should support him
- I should support myself
“She should understand me” turns around to:
- She shouldn’t understand me (reality)
- I should understand her
- I should understand myself
7. Sort Out Your Skill Shortages
You might be putting off some projects because you think to yourself “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t have the skills”. If this comes up for you, examine whether it is true or a hidden fear based excuse (i.e. deep down you know you do know what to do or do have the skills). If it is true, then notice what it is that has prevented you from take action on acquiring the skill or information you need in order to move forward. Challenge your limiting belief! Chose a self-empowering thought to replace it, then prioritise one step you can take to get the resources you need to fill the information or skill gap and get started on your goals.