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How To Be More Action-Oriented: Obstacles And Tips

How To Be More Action-Oriented: Obstacles And Tips

Action speaks louder than words. This is a very common expression that explains a very crucial concept that is associated with our life. There are times when words are not suffice enough to complete a work in hand. Words compose planning. Planning on doing something, taking elaborate measures to complete the task consume a lot of time. In certain instances, you may not have sufficient amount of time to make plans. It is in those times, you should keep aside your planning, and start acting out. Express yourself through actions, and not by mere words. For example, you want to bring changes in your community. You open a page in a social media, successfully gather your neighbors to sign up, or to agree to your plans. Then what? Everyone gets busy with their hectic lives, including you, and the page remains as it is, with certain amounts of advices and no action taking place, and therefore, no changes.

What makes people less action-oriented?

Lack of motivation

Once you lose your motivation in doing a certain task, you won’t feel the urge to transform it into action. It happens to people who get easily over-excited about one thing and go for a prolonged plan. By the time the plan is completed, they lose every motivation to carry out the plan because they are distracted doing too much planning.

No self-confidence

In order to be action-oriented, you need self-confidence. You have to believe in yourself. If an ordinary person can climb up the ladder to success, then I believe everyone of us can, too. In order to climb the ladder, you must be actively involved and must be willing to take the risk.

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Being a perfectionist

There is no harm in being a stickler for impeccability, but insisting too much on perfection can lead to waste opportunities in life. Fast feedback loops from your mistakes are more realistic than aiming for perfect performance in one action. People learn from mistakes. If you can learn from the worst times of your life, you’ll be ready to go into the best times of your life.

Confused about your goal

Getting distracted is fairly easy. At one point in time, I wanted to be a doctor. I prepared myself for that too. But it didn’t work out for me. I didn’t put my 100 percent on it because I just didn’t feel right about it. Sometime later in life I realised, my goal is to write. Ever since then, I got stuck to it, I worked hard and I never looked back.

Getting used to procrastination

Many of us have the habit of leaving the work for the last moment, thinking, “It won’t take much time”, but in reality, you are frantic because you have so much to do in so little time. The end result? Not satisfactory at all! There is no procrastination in action-oriented chores. There’s no need to pressurize yourself when you have ample of time.

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Analysis paralysis

You want to do something, but there is a lot of confusion racing through your brain: What to do first? Is it the correct path? What if it backfires? How to deal with the consequences? The prime way to over come analysis paralysis is to differentiate a bigger problem from a smaller one. Prioritise your problems, and act accordingly.

I am not saying that planning is not important. Planning is very important if you want to carry out your action. Without planning, you won’t know the ‘4 W’s and the H’ – What, where,, when, why and how. What I am saying is too much planning will kill your choice for action. There should be a striking balance between planning and acting out. It is because what we think and plan sets a ‘motion’, and it only becomes an ‘action’ once we out it into practice.

‘Motion’ vs ‘Action’

Motion doesn’t necessarily mean action. Motion sets the platform of the task which produces no results on its own. However, action is what that will produce an outcome. For example, you want to know a certain recipe of a food that you have enjoyed at a friend’s house. Searching on the internet, getting hold of it and saving it for the future, that’s a motion. But if you actually buy the ingredients and cook the food, that is an action. To be successful, set your motion to action, because that is how you will reach your desired goal. Here are 6 tips for you to be more action-oriented in life:

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1. Set a limited time-line for planning before acting out

Naturally, you can’t be action-oriented if you don’t know what to do. For this, planning is important. Time management is also valuable too. Therefore, set a limited time-line for planning. Jot down the important things you want to remind yourself before action, so that at least you know where you are going. Don’t over plan or over think. It should be more of a brainstorming for you.

2. Failure shouldn’t dishearten you

Failure is part of life. If you don’t fail, you can never taste success. You may break down many times when failure runs over you, but never give up on yourself. Learn from the mistakes and try not to repeat it again. Instead of stopping a child from climbing a tree, encourage them to do it. If they fall, they’ll be more careful next time, and will continue to do so until they are successful. Be that child.

3. Discipline yourself

A person who leads a disciplined life is more action-oriented than those who lazy around. Being lethargic to work is a deadly weapon. You are not only killing valuable time, you are also wasting opportunities that may come your way if you maintain discipline. Set tasks for yourself and complete them accordingly. Organise your works.

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4. Reward yourself

If you successfully complete an assigned project on time, reward yourself. Be it a treat or some shopping, encourage yourself that if you cut down on procrastinating and work harder, you will be rewarded. But, if you complete a task at the eleventh hour, refrain from celebrating. This will transmit a message to your brain to be more action-oriented.

5. Being curious and impatient

If you want to be action-oriented, you have to be the curious cat. Also, being impatient is just fine. If you are curious and impatient to know the outcome, they will push you to be more active. For this, you need to sharpen your curiosity and urgency.

6. Picture yourself to be the person you want to be

Start from the beginning. When you set your goal, picture yourself there. If you want to start a business, visualise yourself as the chief, and slowly work it up there. If you want to be a successful musician, start from scratch, aiming for the ultimate prize that awaits you. Picturing yourself to be the person you want to be will pave the path for you to be an action-oriented individual.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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