Taking Action vs. Thinking: Finding the Right Balance

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If I was to ask you why haven’t you achieved all your dreams yet, what would you respond? Would it have something to do with taking action Vs thinking? You know what I’m talking about. Don’t you? As a woman, we have all kinds and sizes of dreams, fantasies, and expectations of ourselves. But many people fall short and go to their graves, haven executed on none of it.

Execution is crucial for achieving anything in life. It plays a central role in becoming the woman you want to be. It is essential to what your career and relationship will turn out to be. But execution isn’t about taking action once. Neither is it about taking thoughtless action. It is about taking consistent action in the direction of your pursuit. It is about getting things done.


Taking Action Vs thinking

When it comes to getting things done, human beings seem to be divided along two lines. That includes women, too.

There are the thinkers who spend all their time analysing the situation, planning, strategizing, and more. And then, there are the doers who just do. The doers, sometimes, don’t seem to care much about all the fine or minute details as do the thinkers. They get stuff done and that earns them a place among the greats, while the thinkers think on.

I want you to note here that I’m not saying it is bad to be a thinker. Some of us have been given the gift of a mind that can piece things down, analyse them, and synthesise those parts to make a whole new piece. So, thinking is crucial to creating the life you want. But thinking alone changes nothing. You have to plan (think) so you can do (take action).

Put another way, thinking creates your roadmap to a new you and better woman. So you want to have that. The best kind of action is one that is based on a blueprint – a well-thought-out plan. That is what you should be aiming for. Still, only action takes you there. The problem is that many women spend all their time planning and analysing and never getting to the doing part. Why?

One reason is fear. The fear of failing, fear of not being enough, not doing enough, not achieving the goal you set out to in the first place. Because of this, many women never even start. The one question I always asked myself when I struggle with this is, “How do you know you will fail when you haven’t even started?”

Another reason is what I call a “mental orgasm.” Psychology has helped us realize that when you think about doing something for too long without any action, your brain gets confused. It doesn’t know the difference between whether you have done it or will do it. At this point, it starts to think you have done it. It releases all the feel-good hormones associated with accomplishments, making you feel accomplished (like in an orgasm).

That, my dear, is a precarious position to be in because you lose all the motivation to act. Your drive dies before you have done anything. This is that state of analysis paralysis that you don’t want to find yourself in.

All your thinking should help you do and become. In other words, think, but only so you can take action. If it’s not helping you act or become, it is the kind of wrong thinking. Wishful thinking, daydreaming, fantasizing, etc. are all thieves of time if you won’t act. They don’t get you results. They only stimulate your brain for some mental pleasure but add nothing to your life in terms of results.

So, as good as thinking (thinking through things, planning, strategizing, etc.) is, you still have to do something. It is in acting that your thoughts are brought to fruition.

But as I mentioned earlier, it isn’t one action that gets you to your dreams. I’m sure you have done that before. You know that point where you get some motivation, start something, do a few things, and after some obstacles, you quit. Everyone can do that. What you need to make a lasting change or impact in your life is consistency in action.

Now that I have woven the importance of taking action into everything I have said, it’s time to help you achieve that enviable state of “less thinking more doing.” It’s time to get you to that point where you know how to take action on your goals.

How To Take Actions Consistently

To transit from a woman who thinks to one who actually does things – takes action consistently – you will need some kind of system. To create that system of action, you will need the following:

1. Plan Your Work:

Yes, I know that you probably weren’t thinking of planning in a post that compares taking action Vs thinking or one that encourages action over endless thinking. But if you are going to get into the habit of taking action consistently, you must have a plan – a blueprint to follow.

I must emphasise again that I’m not saying that thinking, strategising, and planning is bad. I’m saying that it should never end there or replace action. You should plan. But plan to do!

Planning will help you take an organised or coordinated series of actions that help you deliver the expected results. Consequently, getting results will motivate you to more action.

2. Routines And Rituals:

At the core of consistent action is a routine and a habit of doing things. Create a work routine that works for you and a ritual that sets you up to act.

There are too many distractions in today’s very connected world. This makes focusing on one thing difficult. One simple hack to overcome this is to create some kind of ritual that gets you in the mood or makes you focus on the action you need to take. All your life, day, time, and activities can be reduced to routines and rituals. What you want to do is create the type that encourages you to take action consistently.

Your rituals don’t have to be complex but must be something that works for you. It can be as simple as taking a cup of coffee or meditating 5 minutes before your work. Some people spend 5-20 minutes reading books or articles that help them achieve their goals. This gives them some bursts of inspiration that fires them up to take action. For some people, it’s exercise. Focus on the ritual that works for you. You might have to try several out before finding one that does it. You might even have different rituals for different kinds of tasks; whatever the case, stick to it.

A note on rituals for work and taking action: the ritual must accomplish the goal of making you feel good about the task. If the rituals make you feel exhausted, discouraged, or like you’re doing some kind of forced labour, there’ll be no motivation for the main task. So, choose wisely.

3. Focus On Execution, Not The Outcome:

While the outcome is essential if your focus stays only on it, you will get discouraged early on. Often you will do many things at the beginning that doesn’t feel like success. For example: when trying to build a company or a satisfying career. The early days will be devoted to learning and trial and error. And if you’re one of the many people who don’t like to do things for the sake of doing them, you will get discouraged fast. When you focus on the execution itself and bring each task to completion, you will get a sense of success and fulfilment that only breeds more push for more execution and subsequently, success. This is one way you drive yourself to the accomplishment of your big goals.

4. Take Responsibility For The Process, Not The Potential Results:

This is, in many ways, similar to the previous point. The seeds produce the trees. If you focus on planting, nurturing, and pruning your seeds, you will get the trees. The work you do and the action you take are what produce the results you get. Stay with and take responsibility for the action and its completion. And when it appears the results are changing, or are a diversion from what you expect, evaluate your actions, and pivot where necessary.

5. Break Big Tasks (Goals) Into Smaller Chunks:

Short-term rewards motivates us towards accomplishing long-term goals. Focus on hitting those short-term goals and building up some motivation for your big goal. Use the motivation from the rewards that come from accomplishing short-term goals to push you towards achieving the big ones.

6. Set Reminders That Help You Do:

We’re all humans and sometimes, we can be so caught in the moment that we forget what we’re meant to do next. Relaxation time that was meant to be 30 minutes can turn into 3 hours. A thrilling chat with a friend can drag on for hours without your realisation. The list is endless.

When you set reminders for work, they can jolt you out of these moments fast. As a result, you can get to the task you’re meant to handle. Without reminders, you can lose track of time. And when it comes to taking action, time is of the essence.

Thanks to technology, you can have your phone, laptops, and smartwatches all remind you of the same activity. You can even use visual cues in your environment to remind you. More on that under the environment design section.

7. Environment Engineering:

Design your environment to encourage action. You are always interacting and responding to your environment. It influences you. To say this differently: you are a product of your environment, whether you know it or not.

Yeah, I know. This shouldn’t be new to you as a lady. You know how your room makes you feel when it’s in disarray or when it’s arranged. Still, I had to bring it up to tell you this: You should be purposeful about engineering your environment to encourage and support consistency in action in the areas you wish.

If you want to start reading more, then make your library conspicuous. It shouldn’t be hidden. Place a book here and there. If you want to eat healthy more, think of getting rid of unhealthy foods in the first place.

Sometimes, environment design simply means adding visual cues here and there. It can be a post-it note saying, “Lose 21lbs this year,” or “Work for 4 hours today,” or whatever you are aiming at. It can also be a poster of you in your best dress receiving an award for outperforming everyone else at work. Put things around you that prompt you to take the action you want.

Environment design can mean assigning rooms and spaces for specific tasks. You know how when you get into your kitchen, all you think of is food – the cooking and eating of it? Same applies.

Lastly, let’s say you stay in a studio apartment. While there might not be very much you can do, the question is: “Can you not make your bed the centre of attention?” “What about the TV, can it not be the one piece that all your properties are pointing towards?” These two don’t prompt much action. Instead, they promote sleep and entertainment.

8. Track, Track, Track:

Man is a navigational being. We were made for motion and progress. If you get to the point where you’re just doing, doing, doing, but cannot see how that’s helping you reach your goal, you’ll quit. This is one reason short-term action often gets abandoned.

If you want to take action consistently, you must learn to track.

Here’s what I mean: Let’s say you want to lose some weight and look fit and sexy. If you spend time in the gym, eat less or healthier, and do everything in the books but can’t see yourself shedding any weight, it won’t take long before quitting. But let’s say you lost a pound after 3 weeks and were able to associate it with the effort you’re putting in. You’d be able to tell that what you’re doing is working. It might not be at the pace you want but you know it’s working. As a result, you can focus your attention on actions that speed up your results if possible or continue at that pace till you reach your goal.

When tracking, however, you have to focus more on tracking your actions and how they are helping you reach your goals. Not just on the goals. Focusing only on the goals can get you discouraged during those times when it seems like you’re putting in the effort but nothing’s coming out. Especially in the beginning of, say, building a business or learning a new skill.

The bottom line is that I started by asking a question about your dreams. I did that because I know we all have things we want to do in our lifetime. The only way to reach those goals is to think strategically and take consistent massive action. I want to emphasise taking consistent massive action as the only way to make your dreams come true.

Achieving your wildest dream will not happen in a day. It will also not happen after you take one isolated action. But taking action is a good start. You need to take consistent well-planned actions to reach your goals. You’ll need to act when you feel like it and when you don’t. So, instead of debating taking action Vs thinking, I’d tell you to choose both. I mean, why shouldn’t you? Still, no matter how great a plan and strategies you create, only execution can make your dreams a reality.

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Hi! I'm Dr Jessica

I share my expertise as a Family Physician to provide you with the support and tools to a holistic lifestyle.

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