This week, I’d like to discuss a topic that’s near and dear to my clients and students: why some people take action and others don’t.
We all have dreams and goals, right? We want to lose weight, become better partners and parents, be happier, travel more, save money, maybe even start a business. But for some reason, many of us fall short and don’t take action on these dreams and goals.
Why does this happen?
Lack of progress is the biggest source of frustration for people. When we don’t see results from our labors right away, we tend to give up easily. If we only persevere, we could lead happier and more fulfilled lives. What is it that keeps us from moving forward when we hit a bump in the road?
Take action on what matters
One reason for why you don’t take action could be due to your desire to control the uncontrollable.
There are things that happen in this world that are beyond your control. For example, you can’t control other people, and you can’t control the past. The good news is that we can pretty much control everything else. We can control our thoughts, how we feel, how we respond to certain triggers, and even our results.
However, we tend to forget this. We simply assume, in any given moment, that we are either in control of our situation or we’re not.
Rarely is anything ever so black and white!
I see this a lot from prospective clients. For example, many believe that if only they could reduce their debt, they can start to save. They can start to take action. While that might make sense to some degree, the reality is that with some financial adjustments, it’s possible to save and reduce debt at the same time.
One reason for why you don’t take action could be due to your desire to control the uncontrollable.
We take action when we feel like it
In a world where we’re all juggling many tasks and wearing multiple hats, we tend to forget to take the time to reflect on our own thoughts. And because of that we end up on autopilot. We end up reacting to our thoughts and aren’t even aware of it. For example, this was my motivation for writing 9 Signs That Your Spending is On Autopilot.
However, I realize that we’re not just on autopilot with our spending. We are often on autopilot in many different aspects of our lives.
How is this relevant to why you’re not taking action on long-held dreams?
Your thoughts create your feelings. Actions we take in our lives have a purpose. We all want to feel a certain way. Plenty of people smoke and drink to relieve the various stressors in their lives. We spend money we should be saving for our children’s college education or our future because it makes us happy in the moment.
It’s powerful and enabling to understand this part of our human behavior. I find it fascinating. Wouldn’t you like to know more about why we fixate on certain things? Why are we driven to certain actions?
So when I think about why some people take action and other don’t, I think it’s because of the way people feel about themselves and their potential. High achievers feel confident and believe success is possible. They’re constantly envisioning themselves winning.
People that are uncertain about their goals don’t believe they are going to work out, and because they don’t believe they might not even try.
But the people on the fence get hurt the most because they have mixed feelings. Maybe our dreams will work, maybe they won’t. Should we even try something new? What is the point of trying if we might fail?
This indecision is what kills our dreams. If we are unsure about our ability to succeed, We end up taking minimal action that doesn’t propel us to success.
Learn to observe and change your thoughts. Your thoughts create your feelings. And feelings are what decide whether you take action or not.
Attract what you want
I first heard of The Law of Attraction through a series of coaching lessons from Tony Robbins. Tony Robbins is an author of six internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller MONEY: Master the Game and UNSHAKEABLE. His work has empowered more than 50 million people from around the world, including myself.
The Law of Attraction is the ability to focus on something and attract it into our life. It’s our thoughts that are the driving force for how we feel and what we focus on.
I remember my wife and I looking for a new car. Eventually we found one that we liked and ended up getting a good deal on it. At the time, I didn’t remember seeing a lot of these models on the road. And it wasn’t until I bought the car, that I started seeing a lot more of them.
It wasn’t that there were suddenly more of these cars on the road. They were always there. I just never noticed them before.
That taught me a lesson. I learned that our brain spends most of its time making sure we don’t notice what’s not important to us. If it did, we’d all go crazy from processing all that information. I also learned that your brain goes after what’s constantly on your mind. That’s The Law of Attraction.
Your brain goes after what’s constantly on your mind. Make sure your not obsessing about your problems.
What’s on your mind?
So what is it that’s on your mind? It’s important to be clear about what we truly desire. How do we achieve this clarity?
There are ways of finding clarity and focus. You could:
- Meditate: A practice of focusing attention. It leads to better focus, less anxiety, more creativity and compassion.
- Journal: A book to write all your thoughts, ideas, and memories
- Mind Map: A visual thinking tool that helps us better analyze, comprehend, recall and generate new ideas
- Use stickies: Post-it notes (whether physical or digital)
Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to test brain scans on the benefits of meditation.
“Studies by other scientists have shown that meditation can help enhance attention and emotion regulation skills. But most were not neuroimaging studies. So now we’re hoping to bring that behavioral and neuroimaging science together.” – Sara Lazar
If you’re interest in learning more about the 141 benefits to meditating, you can find some good reading at the EOC Institute.
Personally, I’ve never really been one to sit and meditate for hours on end, who has the time for that? It turns out you don’t have to. While researching for this post, I came across a meditation practice that only requires two minutes per day. I can do two minutes, can you?
What’s working for me right now, is devoting thirty minutes each morning to writing morning pages. Morning Pages was created by Julia Cameron, which is the process of longhand writing three pages each morning to clear your mind. You write down the thoughts that are moving through your consciousness and become acquainted with your subconscious.
In Julia’s words, “You are meeting your shadow, and taking it out for a cup of coffee.”
Change your Thoughts
Through writing my morning pages, I learned to observe my thoughts. Everything started to click for me.
I learned that my thoughts were affecting my feelings and actions. When I look back on everything I’ve done in the past, I can now understand why I was getting the results that I was getting in my life. The way I was thinking fostered unsatisfactory results.
My thoughts sometimes remind me of the time when my son was a toddler. I would leave the room for just a few minutes and came back to find him running rampant in my living room. In that short time, he tore everything down from bookcases and table tops, no longer had his diaper on, and was yanking at the blinds!
Our minds can be in state of complete chaos if left unattended.
At one point in my life I found myself ruminating about the news I saw on television earlier that morning. There were shootings, drug arrests, and houses burning down. Events like these appeared to happen regularly.
It got so bad that I believed I lived in a state that was too dangerous to raise my children. I even put my house on the market, although I never moved.
This was when I made the decision to limit what feeds my thoughts. I cancelled my cable subscription, stopped listening to the radio, and cut out all the negative people in my life.
That was ten years ago.
Today, I get more done in a single day than ever before. I’m focused on achieving long-term success and making each day count. I’m also committed to educating myself. Instead of listening to something entertaining, I opt to educate myself. I read daily in the morning and listen to educating podcasts in the evening.
Our minds can be in state of complete chaos if left unattended. Learn to write down your thoughts and goals first thing in the morning.
It’s all about what you believe
So what’s the difference between someone that takes action and someone that doesn’t? It’s how they think.
If you knew without a doubt that if you took a specific action that would change your life for the better, would you do it?
I’m betting you would.
That’s the shift in your mindset that needs to happen for you to take action and succeed. You need to take more risk and feel one hundred percent confident that you’re going to succeed.
If there’s a shred of doubt in you, you won’t give it one hundred percent. Your effort will correlate to the degree you feel confident that you’ll succeed.
Roger Bannister was the first person to run a mile in under 4 minutes. Before him, the record for running a mile was 4 minutes and 1 second, where it stood for nine years. Experts said it was impossible and dangerous for the human body to run a mile in under 4 minutes.
As part of his training, Bannister relentlessly visualized breaking the 4 minute mile. And on May 6, 1954, he succeeded. He ran it in 3 minutes and 59 seconds.
Thirteen months after Bannister succeeded, an additional three runners broke four minutes in one race.
If you find that you’re not hitting your life and financial goals, there’s a good chance that you lack clarity and confidence. That feeling of uncertainty is causing you to hold back and not perform at your peak potential.
I want to inspire you to make bold and courageous moves, to take action on your long-held dreams, and to live your life once only imagined.
I want to hear from you
Do you have a pressing question. If so you can drop it in the comments below or ask me privately. If it’s good enough, I’ll answer it and mention you on my next Q&A Tuesday on TommyTV.