It’s About the Doing

“Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing in the world.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In 2005 when I was working with my first Life Coach, she would often challenge me to identify and take the next step. When I was hesitant to move forward, she would say I was just “fixin’ to get ready.”

Jane was (and is) wonderful. She knew when to push my buttons. Telling me what I already knew, she would call me on everything from my “to do list,” to my endless planning. Rather than preparing and putting good ideas into action, I procrastinated – gathering resources, waiting for the right information, and focusing on getting even more organized. I kept telling myself that all of this fixin’ would enable me to get it right. For a once borderline perfectionist, getting it just right was important.

But all this was, was preparing to prepare. And the process convinced me that I was progressing and succeeding. What this process created was a temporary feeling of accomplishment, which for some (perhaps, many) can keep us preparing for years, if not a lifetime. Seriously.

I finally realized that all of my inaction (other that organizing and preparing) was due to the fear of either succeeding or failing. Jane, as she did so well, would remind me that if we succeed, more will be expected of us, and we will then have to do even more. With hindsight and a lot of subsequent learning, I can now see and appreciate that this is exactly what we want to happen! Alas, I was young(er) and wore some silly blinders.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar place? I suspect many of us have. So, what to do? It’s pretty simple. First, identify the source of your fixin’. Be truthful about what is preventing you from taking action. Then, try to ease taking action by:

  1. Cutting it up into smaller pieces of time and effort. Big successes are rarely the result of big plans and actions. Success comes from small actions repeated and expanded. Think consistently.
  2. Having short-term action views. Figure out what can be done each day or week instead of trying to plan months, if not years, ahead. Set a goal of accomplishing one or two tasks tomorrow or this week – that aren’t attached to something bigger or someone else. What small thing or things can you do that supports what you want and will allow you to immediately see the results?
  3. Focus on today. Whatever you do, do it now. Don’t think about what’s next or what if it doesn’t work. Do the best you can, now.

There’s nothing novel about the above tips. They’re tried and true. The point is, just take action. Shifting from “fixin’ to get ready” to actions for success is not difficult if you get out of fixin’ mode and into doing. Visualize the results. Benjamin Disraeli once said,

“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”

Remember, every overwhelmingly successful person started out as an ordinary person who simply, with certainty, took daily steps forward.

4 thoughts on “It’s About the Doing

  1. wow this is really great eric! as someone who also identifies as ‘fixin’ to’ type of person, i appreciate your honesty in where that gets you (or doesn’t) and your helpful tips. with my big move to houston now, i will need to be taking lots of action both personally and with my new career so i will keep those tips in the back of my mind-thanks!

  2. I know a lot about not taking action and taking action. I know a lot about inertia. I know a lot about momentum. But what I do not know a lot about is sustaining. Support in sustaining and maintaining. I do not know much about those. A quick story that isn’t quite the same topic but same result that works towards anything…. When it comes to one of my more recent challenges….childcare (or lack of it), my friend reminds me “Doing nothing is NOT an option.” UGgh….lol I have had a lot of people show up, come twice, than leave town, get a job, move, summer internship….you name it. So instead of the constant energy of trying, I decided to do nothing because it was easier. Sleep deprivation ruins me and putting energy out for help is tough. Fortunately my son is finally sleeping through the night much more (2 years later). Then it was brought to my attention from my friend saying the above. That was interesting….
    For me, success and failure really tie into how powerful do I want to be. Am I capable of accepting my power? Am I worth being that powerful? Am I afraid of my power. I seem to always find ways to start and take actions, but oh that whole staying with it thing. I would love to hear thoughts on that one. 🙂
    I really enjoy your posts, btw.

    • To your invitation, my thoughts: What are your answers to the questions you pose in your penultimate paragraph? Given a choice, why would you choose failure over success? Or vice versa? I hear you and agree; sustaining/maintaining efforts does take work. But its always about choice. What happens if/when you choose to not maintain? How do you feel about that outcome(s)? I sense you are an intelligent being. What is difficult about sustaining your chosen actions?

      • Good questions. I will reflect on them and see what view reveals itself. I feel it in my gut, so I know it’s important. My initial response was going to be excuses about babies and sleep deprivation, but this is long term not recent. I will sit and reflect on it. Thanks.

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