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The Key to All Success: Action

The Key to All Success: Action
Newton's Cradle
    Newton's Cradle by Carole Jeffery

    The artist Pablo Picasso once said,

    “Action is the foundational key to all success.”

    It’s one of those quotations that when you ponder it, you will have to agree with its blatant truth. But if so many of us are of the same mind as Picasso, why do we regularly forget to take his advice?

    About 10 years ago I was very frustrated with my life. I had many ideas and goals, but I had not achieved a fraction of the things that I wanted to achieve.

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    I would look around and see success all around me. I saw people I went to school with, with big businesses and flashy cars. I couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been as successful as them. I had acted on a few business ideas — I was definitely an expert at business plans — but somehow, nobody else got to see those plans and my business ideas never moved forward. How could I get things done?

    Missing ingredient

    I cannot remember the exact occasion or at what stage I realized what was missing. But when I did, I stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized that sitting dreaming about life wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go UPWARDS!

    Still today I can be guilty of not acting on many different ideas, but now it is through choice; now I choose what I act on and what I put on the back-burner. This is what I now do.

    Movement

    I take action, I realize that the first step is the most important, Newton’s first law of Motion states:

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    “A body in motion remains in motion unless it is acted on by an external force. If the body is at rest it remains at rest”.

    Once you get started it is easier to stay in motion, but the most difficult part is that first movement — the first action. Little by little your actions will gather momentum, and before you know it you will have achieved your goals. A wise friend once said,

    “It’s only by starting to walk on the path that you can know for sure if you have taken the correct path.”

    Make a start.

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    Choice

    I remind myself that being successful is not necessity but choice. Most of the things that frustrate us and irritate us are completely self-inflicted. They are standards and goals we set for ourselves and if we don’t achieve them we are disappointed, upset and annoyed!

    So, instead of saying things like “I have to finish this work” or “I need to write one chapter of my book before I can go have fun” change it to “I want.” When you empower yourself to make your own choices these jobs and tasks become easier. Here are some examples:

    “I want to finish this work before I relax with the family because I know I can then devote my time and attention to them afterwards.”

    “I want to write one chapter of my book because I enjoy writing and I will be happy if I achieve this.”

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    Remind yourself of the things that you want to achieve and the reasons why. The choice is yours.

    Accountability

    Statistics say that you are much more likely to achieve something if you tell other people about it. The New Year’s resolutions you promise yourself rarely work. Even if you promise your spouse or partner your likelihood increases slightly but not usually enough to make it happen. But, if you commit to a stranger, a coach or a counselor your chances shoot up.

    Why is it we value other people’s opinion of us more than we value our own?

    We let ourselves down regularly but are reluctant to let others down. If you want to take action tell somebody about it, tell someone you respect what you are going to do and ask them to check up on you. At the same time it can do no harm to try to respect yourself more and deliver on your personal commitments.

    As Picasso says we cannot reach success without action; there needs to be movement towards the goal for things to start to happen.

    What are your tips for getting started and taking action to become successful?

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    Ciara Conlon

    Productivity coach, speaker, blogger and author of Chaos to Control, a Practical Guide to Getting Things Done

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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