If you’re still wondering why it’s so important to be action-oriented, consider the most common regret most people have. Many studies show that the biggest regret people have is not acting on their dreams and aspirations, not pursuing their passion, not taking the risk nor the chance. People often look back and feel regretful for not being true to who they are, for not making the effort to reach their goals, and for not realizing their full potential.
Do you know anyone who was offered a new job but held off because they were unsure if they would be able to perform the position well or if they would fit in with the new team? Did they regret their decision?
Or have you ever met someone who has a great idea for a new business or project but is afraid to pursue it because they are afraid of failure or rejection, only to come to regret it later?
According to a study released by Cambridge University Press, action-oriented people who opted to act when given a decision task had much lower levels of regret than those who chose not to act. This is why you should learn to be more action-oriented if you want to live a more fulfilling life.
Table of Contents
- What Does Being Action Oriented Look Like?
- Benefits of Becoming Action-Oriented
- Why Is it Hard For People to Take Action?
- Understanding the Difference Between Motion vs Action
- How to Become More Action Oriented
- Bottom Line
What Does Being Action Oriented Look Like?
In the early 1990s, Julius Kuhl proposed two main groups of people, “action-oriented” or “state-oriented.”These groups differ in how they behave when taking action towards a goal under pressure.
People who are action-oriented have a higher resistance to stress triggers, can forget bad events, focus on tasks without distractions, and begin new projects. State-oriented people, on the other hand, ruminate about bad occurrences, fail to take action, procrastinate, and are prone to switching tasks for no apparent reason.
The same Cambridge University study that I mentioned earlier, examined the feelings of regret experienced by “action-oriented” or “state-oriented” people when deciding whether to take action or not. The participants were given a decision task in which they could choose whether or not to take action. The study discovered that action-oriented people felt more regret when they did not act than when they did act. On the other hand, state-oriented people felt regret regardless of their choice.
As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary:
Action-oriented means willing or likely to take practical action to deal with a problem or situation.
Being action oriented implies a mindset or attitude that is focused on taking practical steps to address and solve problems or situations. It entails determining and carrying out the necessary steps to achieve a desired result.
Individuals who are action oriented are proactive, resourceful, and decisive. They are not afraid to take chances, make decisions, or accept accountability for their actions. They are not passive and do not sit back and wait for things to happen; instead, they actively seek out opportunities and make things happen. In the face of adversity, they are also persistent and resilient, working to find solutions and overcome obstacles.
To put it another way, being action oriented means being willing and able to take the initiative and make things happen rather than simply waiting for things to happen to you.
A person who is action-oriented and wants to advance in their career may see a gradual progression in their job over time. They may attend classes or workshops to hone their skills, actively seek out new opportunities, and assume leadership positions within their organization. They may be promoted to positions of increasing responsibility and influence as a result of their hard work and dedication.
A person who takes action and starts a business may see steady growth and expansion in a matter of years. They may have a clear vision for their business and take steps to make it a reality.
Steve Jobs exemplifies how taking action can lead to great success. He co-founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak, and within a few years, they had created a revolutionary personal computer that transformed the way people worked and lived. However, he was fired from the company he founded, but this did not deter him; he went on to found another successful company, Pixar. He later returned to Apple, where he led the company to become one of the most valuable and innovative in the world. This is an excellent example of how taking action and not giving up can lead to long-term success and accomplishments.
Benefits of Becoming Action-Oriented
Being action-oriented can lead to a variety of positive outcomes over time. It can lead to the achievement of goals, the realization of dreams, the establishment of a successful business, or the advancement of one’s career. The rewards can be seen in the short and long term, and they can be significant, because greatness takes time, effort, and continuous action.
“Knowledge is power: You hear it all the time but knowledge is not power. It’s only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it. Somebody who reads a book and doesn’t apply it, they’re at no advantage over someone who’s illiterate. None of it works unless YOU work. We have to do our part. If knowing is half the battle, action is the second half of the battle.” ― Jim Kwik, Brain Coach
Taking action can also help you live a more fulfilling life:
- Boost your confidence: Taking action and seeing the results can boost your confidence and self-esteem. You will feel more capable and in control of your life, which can lead to greater resilience and optimism.
- Avoid the cost of regret: Failure to act can result in feelings of regret later in life. You can avoid these feelings of regret and live a more fulfilling life by taking action.
- Increases your sense of self: Taking action and accomplishing your goals can help you feel more fulfilled and satisfied with your. It can also assist you in better understanding your abilities, interests, and passions, leading to self-discovery and a greater sense of self-awareness.
- Make you a better leader: If you’re an action-oriented leader, you can inspire and motivate others to take action. You will set a good example and can motivate your team to achieve the objectives.
Why Is it Hard For People to Take Action?
People may find it difficult to take action for a variety of reasons. The things that might be preventing them may be a result of both internal and external factors. Recognizing and addressing these factors can help people in overcoming their fears and taking action toward their goals.
Imposter syndrome is characterized by feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy, and fear of being exposed as a “fraud” in high achievers, despite evidence of their ability.
People who feel like imposters may doubt their abilities and believe they do not belong in their position. This can lead to a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem, making action difficult.
Since they believe that if they fail, they will be exposed as frauds, they avoid taking risks, trying new things, or making progress.
People who experience imposter syndrome might even try to pretend to be someone they’re not in order to blend in or be accepted. This lack of authenticity can ultimately prevent people from acting in ways that they believe are not appropriate for their characters.
Procrastination and inability to act are closely related. Procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing tasks, and it can be a significant impediment to action. People who procrastinate put things off and avoid taking action, making it difficult for them to achieve their goals.
Procrastination can stem from a variety of reasons, such as:
- Fear of failure: People may be afraid to take action because they are afraid of failing or being judged or rejected.
- Fear of the unknown: People may be hesitant to take action because they do not know what to expect. They may be concerned about the unknown or the uncertainty of the future.
- Lack of confidence: Some may doubt their abilities and believe they are inadequate to achieve their goals, which can lead to procrastination.
- Overwhelm: Being overwhelmed by the tasks that must be completed makes it difficult to take action.
- Lack of motivation: Someone who lacks the drive or inspiration to take action toward their goals will find it difficult to get started.
The state of overthinking a situation or problem to the point where a decision or action is not taken is referred to as analysis paralysis. It can also be defined as the inability to make a decision as a result of excessive thinking and over-analyzing.
Analysis paralysis causes people to overthink and overanalyze their options. This can lead to a sense of overwhelm, and they may struggle to make a decision or take action.
Analysis paralysis can also make it difficult to commit to a plan of action. They may be so preoccupied with weighing all of their options that they are unable to choose one, resulting in delays and missed opportunities.
Lack of Commitment
Commitment is the state of being dedicated to a goal or task, and it is essential for taking action and achieving success.
It’s easy to become distracted by other things or give up when things get tough without a strong sense of commitment. People who lack commitment tend to put things off and postpone taking action because they do not feel accountable for the outcomes of their actions and do not believe they can succeed.
Without a clear understanding of what they want and why they want it, it may be difficult for them to be consistent in their actions and to move closer to their objectives.
Although being result-oriented is generally a good thing, focusing solely on the outcome rather than the process can prevent people from taking action. People who are overly focused on the end result may become so fixated on achieving a specific outcome that they overlook the steps required to get there. This can lead to feelings of frustration and disappointment, and eventually the inability to take action.
Worse, if people have unrealistic expectations of themselves, they may become discouraged if they do not achieve their goals. This can lead to procrastination and motivation issues.
Understanding the Difference Between Motion vs Action
Understanding motion and action is critical for becoming more action-oriented because it allows you to identify the specific steps required to achieve a goal and actually take those steps in a deliberate and efficient manner. This helps in overcoming procrastination and inaction, both of which can be major roadblocks to achieving one’s goals.
Motion and Action can be thought of as two different aspects of getting things done. Action is the act of performing a task or an activity while Motion is the intention that drives the action. Motion without action can lead to procrastination and a lack of progress, whereas action without motion can lead to busywork and a lack of direction.
Here are some examples to help you better understand motion and action:
- Motion: Create a to-do list
Action: Complete the items on the to-do list
- Motion: Searching for a healthy diet plan and reading recipes
Action: Prepare and eat a nutritious meal
- Motion: Watching workout videos
Action: Start training or exercising
- Motion: Getting books on improving productivity
Action: Read the books and put the strategies into practice
It is critical to have a clear plan and intention (motion) behind the work being done (action) in order to achieve the desired outcome.
How to Become More Action Oriented
1. Understand that Action Is Like a Muscle
Action is like a muscle; it gets stronger the more you use it. Understanding that taking action is a skill allows you to approach it more deliberately and intentionally.
Starting with small, manageable tasks and gradually increasing the difficulty and complexity as you become more comfortable and confident is one way to practice taking action. It’s also worth noting that taking action doesn’t always imply being productive; sometimes taking a break and rest is necessary.
Another way to strengthen this muscle is to take consistent and persistent action toward your goals. Consistency and persistence are essential for success because they help overcome the inevitable obstacles and setbacks that arise along the way.
Remember that taking action is a habit that, like any other, takes time to develop. Changing your behavior is a long-term process that takes effort. It is important to be patient with yourself and not to expect immediate results.
Action Is Like a Muscle
2. Set SMARTer Goals
Use SMARTer goals to help you become more action-oriented.
While you’ve probably heard of SMART goals, a SMARTer goal delves deeper into why you want to set the goal.
Therefore, in addition to being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound, a SMARTer goal helps you to understand why you want to achieve what you want to achieve.
The 5 Whys framework can help you delve deeper into your desires. The goal of this framework is to have you ask yourself “why?” five times. Every time you ask why, you’re getting to the heart of why you started goal setting in the first place.
Assume your initial goal is to ‘earn more money.’
Why do you want to increase your earnings? “I want to buy a large house.”
Why do you want such a large house? “Because living in a large house is convenient.”
Why is it that only a large house makes you feel comfortable? “Because I have a large family, with a wife and three children; we require a large house to accommodate everyone.”
Why do you want a large house where everyone can live? “Because I want them to live in a pleasant environment.”
Why is this the case? “Because I adore my family and want them to be content.”
Can you tell the difference between the initial desire and the true purpose at the end? In this case, you may have thought you wanted more money, but what you really want is for your family to be happy. While having more money and a bigger house can help, how you treat your family and the time you spend with them are also important factors.
Setting SMARTer goals allows you to create a clear roadmap for taking action toward your desired outcome and then breaking it down into smaller actionable tasks.
Set a SMARTer Goal
3. Use Implementation Intention
Implementation Intentions are a type of plan that specifies when, where, and how a specific behavior will occur. They are a simple but effective method of increasing the likelihood of taking action toward a goal.
An Implementation Intention is a statement that connects a particular situation to a particular action. “I’ll go for a 30-minute run when I get home from work on Monday,” for example. This type of plan helps to automate the action; by specifying the specific circumstances under which you will take the action, you will be more likely to follow through.
Implementation intentions work by drawing attention to the desired behavior and reducing the cognitive load required to initiate it. They also contribute to a greater sense of control by making the action feel more voluntary and less intimidating.
Setting an Implementation Intention should be as concrete and specific as possible. The more specific your plan, the more likely you are to stick to it.
Implementation Intentions can help you overcome procrastination, increase motivation, and make progress toward your goals. They complement SMARTer goals well because they provide a concrete plan for achieving the goal rather than just an abstract idea.
Use Implementation Intention
4. Adopt a Growth Mindset
A growth mindset is the conviction that one’s abilities and intelligence can be enhanced through hard work and education. It is the polar opposite of a fixed mindset, which holds that one’s abilities are fixed and unchangeable.
When you have a growth mindset, you prioritize learning, progress, and improvement over perfection. You see setbacks and challenges as opportunities for learning and growth rather than threats to your self-esteem. As you become more comfortable with taking risks and trying new things, your motivation and resilience will improve.
With a growth mindset, you are more likely to persevere in the face of difficulties and setbacks because you believe you can grow and improve through hard work. You are also more open to feedback because you understand how important it is for growth and development.
To cultivate a growth mindset, focus on the process of learning and progress rather than the end result. Recognize and celebrate small victories and accomplishments, and learn from your mistakes.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
5. Visualize Who You Want To Be
The process of creating mental images of a desired outcome or future reality is known as visualization. It’s a powerful technique for increasing motivation, focus, and self-belief.
“If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” – Muhammad Ali
When you visualize yourself achieving your goals and becoming the person you want to be, you are creating a mental image of the future you want. This mental representation can provide inspiration, motivation, and guidance. It can also assist you in overcoming self-doubt and limiting beliefs as you begin to see yourself as capable of achieving your objectives.
Visualization can help you focus because it makes you more aware of what you need to do to achieve your goals. It can also help to boost self-esteem as you begin to see yourself as someone who is capable of achieving their goals.
To make the most of visualization, try to be as specific and detailed as possible. Make a mental image of the desired outcome or future reality using all of your senses. Consider how you feel in the scene, as well as what you see, hear, smell, and taste.
Make visualization a daily habit. Simply spend a few minutes every day visualizing your goals and the person you want to become.
Visualize Who You Want to Be
Taking action is the key to achieving goals and making progress in life. Ideas and plans remain just that unless they are put into action.
Training yourself to be more action-oriented helps you to overcome procrastination and develop resilience in the face of challenges and setbacks. It also contributes to a sense of control over your life, which leads to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.
Featured photo credit: Vadim Bozhko via unsplash.com
|||^||Cambridge University Press: Action orientation, consistency and feelings of regret|
|||^||Julius Kuhl: Volitional Mediators of Cognition-Behavior Consistency: Self-Regulatory Processes and Action Versus State Orientation|
|||^||American Psychological Association: Feel like a fraud?|
|||^||Science Direct: Implementation Intentions and Goal Achievement: A Meta-analysis of Effects and Processes|
|||^||Harvard Business Review: What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means|