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The art of taking action (DW#574)

As we said yesterday, keeping busy is different from being engaged in meaningful work.

Gregg Krech puts it well in The Art of Taking Action.

He says: "The Art of Taking Action isn’t simply about keeping busy or checking things off your to-do list. It’s about choosing what to do, how to do it, and the development of character."

So come on. It is time to come clean. At least to yourself. Answer these two questions:

What are you procrastinating on? And
Why does it matter? In other words:
What is the cost of procrastination for you? Why is this a problem?
What would it do for you if you get this task/project done? How would it impact your life in a positive way if this task or project would be done?

Getting crystal clear on your WHY is really really important to push through the times when your inspiration leaves you.

 

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Productive procrastination (DW#573)

Can I share a secret?

When I am working on a creative project, such as writing, planning or working on a presentation, I get very productive. I clean out closets, cook up a storm, get my filing done, find great deals on Amazon, clean out more closets and drawers, organize the pantry . .

Anything to keep busy and stop feeling the anxiety that comes from producing meaningful work. . . .

I call it productive procrastination. A lot of stuff gets done.

Except what really matters.

Let’s not fool ourselves. Just because we are busy, it does not mean that we not procrastinating.

We need to make sure that we are doing work that really matters rather than merely busy work.

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The good news about inspiration (DW#570)

You have moments of inspiration, don’t you? Moments when you feel really really motivated and inspired to take action on your task or project. The good news about inspiration is that we all experience it from time to time.

It would be wise for you to capitalize on this inspiration. And start taking action immediately. Today. Not in the future. Now.

Experts in motivation tell us that the longer we wait between feeling inspired to do something and actually doing it, the more our own image of ourselves erodes. Along with our confidence in getting the job done.

So the moment you feel inspiration, please don’t delay, over analyze it or second guess it. Or try to do it perfectly.

Simply get up and get into motion.

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The bad news about the future (DW#569)

Have you ever told yourself that you don’t have time this week to do what matters but you will for sure next week? Next week you will be organized and have more time. Next week, things will magically work out and what distracts you today, will surely sort itself out next week.
 
It turns out that this is a very common human tendency. We tend to overestimate the time that we will have in the future.
 
The line from the musical Annie comes to mind: Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow. You are always a day away . . .
 
As lovely and positive as that thought may be, the reality, it turns out, it quite different. We are no more organized the next day than we are today. Tomorrow is likely to be just like today. We will be busy and distracted and have a long list of urgent things that will crowd out the important.

So our future will be just like our present. Unless we do something different. And start taking action on what matters. Not tomorrow and not...

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You can take action despite your fears. (DW#568)

Can I tell you a little secret?

The most successful people in the world have the same fears that you and I do. Fears regarding failure, criticism and not meeting standards set by themselves and others. 

Really and truly. 

The only difference is that they take action despite their fears and their anxiety. 

The strength of their purpose is greater than the fears and the doubts that they experience. 

Really. 

You and I can also choose to act despite how we feel. 

Repeat after me: 
Feel the fear and take action anyway. 
Feel the fear and take action towards your goals. 
Feel the fear and take action towards your goals. 

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The anxiety of taking action (DW#567)

I really like how Neil Fiore explains our tendency to procrastinate in his book The Now Habit.

He says that procrastination is our way of coping with the anxiety that accompanies starting or completing any task or making any decision. 

According to him, we procrastinate to deal with feelings of low esteem, perfectionism, fear of failure (and of success), indecisiveness, an imbalance between work and play, ineffective goal-setting, and negative concepts about work and ourselves. 

It makes sense right? Think about something you are procrastinating about. And check in with yourself. What are the underlying feelings you are trying to deal with? 

Are you concerned that the task or project will not be done perfectly? Are you scared that once done, people can criticize your work (or worse, YOU)? Are you concerned that you will not measure up to your own (perhaps unreasonable?) standards of perfection?

Naming your fears and concerns is the first step to taming...

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Taking action is rather risky (DW#566)

One of the risks of completing any task or project is that once it is done, we realise that it is not perfect. Despite our best efforts we may still not succeed fully at what we tried. Moreover, people may criticise our efforts or our project. Putting ourselves out there makes us very vulnerable. 

Also, when we are in the process of doing one thing, we cannot do other things. Once we start taking committed action on one thing, we are losing the opportunity to do other things. At least at that time. We can experience major FOMO (Fear of missing out).

In other words, if we do not take action and we do not complete projects we save ourselves from the risk that accompanies any action. We are safe from failure, criticism and from having to decide on priorities. 

The ship of our life is safe in harbour. 


But here is the thing about ships: yes, ships are safest when they are docked in the harbour. 

But that is not what ships are built for, are they?

When we are out there in...

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Look up (DW#543)

Imagine you are at work. You are busy answering emails or preparing a presentation. And your boss or your most important client walks in and starts talking to you. 

What do you do? Do you continue working on what you were doing and give them perfunctory nods and hmm, uhmms without even bothering to acknowledge their presence in the room? (and how do you think your career will fare if you did that?)


Or do you stop what you are doing, look up and give them your full attention? If you recognize that your relationship with them is more important than that email, or text message, you will likely do the later. 

Now how about your spouse? When they walk into the room, do you look up from your phone and give them your attention? Do you listen to what they have to say before giving them the nod and the hmms and the ahas? 

If not, why not? 

You cannot improve something without giving it some attention. You really cannot. So please start paying attention. And look up from your...

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Get more sleep (DW#542)

If you are sleep deprived like a lot of us these days, you know that the world and everything in it (including your spouse!) looks much better after a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, a lack of sleep can leave us feeling irritable and wanting to lash out at even minor annoyances. 

A study from Ohio State University confirmed this. It found that couples who routinely slept less than seven hours were more likely to fight in destructive ways and with overt hostility. Sleeping more did not get eliminate conflict, of course. But those couples who managed to get more rest bickered with more humor and kindness and with less hostility. 

So an easy way to improve your family relationships is to improve your self care routines, which include sleep and exercise. If you take care of yourself, you are able to show up as your best self at home. 

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Where did you stumble? (DW#523)

Once we have acknowledged our successes for the past year, it is easier to confront and acknowledge where we stumbled or fell short. 

So let’s remember the domains of our lives again: social, emotional, physical, professional, spiritual, marital, parental, financial. 

Where did you have the greatest challenges? Where these challenges outside your control or as a result of your own choices?

For example, if the stock market crashes and causes you to have financial setbacks, it is outside your control. (How much you invest and how you diversify is within your control however  . . . ) If your financial crisis is caused by overspending, not saving or other actions, the situation is caused by your own actions.

If we lose our job because of industry-wide cut backs, we cannot control that. But if we lose our jobs because we slacked and did not do our best, our actions caused our challenges. Get the picture?


While it is helpful to own responsibility for our actions, it...

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