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The Overthinker’s Guide to Taking Action

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dont-overthink-just-do-the-overthinkers-guide-to_b_599ee807e4b0d0ef9f1c120e

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The Overthinker’s Guide to Taking Action

Balancing thought and action will always be a challenge for many people.

When you spend too much time picturing what a project is going to be like, too much time thinking about how awesome it will be… and too little time actually making the thing, you make no progress.

With respect to goals, projects, and other to-do items, it’s easy to get stuck too long in the thinking phase.

The economist and author of

Average is Over
, Tyler Cowen, agrees: “The more information that’s out there, the greater the returns to just being willing to sit down and apply yourself. Information isn’t what’s scarce; it’sthe willingness to do something with it.”

“The two most important requirements for major success are: first, being in the right place at the right time, and second, doing something about it” says Ray Kroc

Many people get excited about a lot of ideas. But unfortunately they easily begin pushing them further back on their to-do lists, if not completely disregarding them as being unfeasibleor unreaslistic.

When you value “the thinking mindset” more than “the doing mindset” you will eventually end up with a note app or notebook full of dozens or even hundreds of ideas and plans.

Greater percentage of them will never be done. And you will most likely not think about a lot of them again. Some are maybe 5–10% complete, and a few maybe at least 50% done. It can quickly turn into inaction habit.

Results come to those who “act” while others are discovering the “right” ways to generate results.

Leonardo Da Vinci says, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

A decision alone changes nothing.

As Gregg Krech writes in his book

The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology
, external reality remains exactly the same after your decision to ask someone out, to write a book, or leave your job. What matters is “creating ripples”, as he puts it — actions, however tiny, that alter things in the world outside your head.

It’s what you Do that defines you

Do what you should. Don’t talk about what you should be doing.

Being a Doer instead of just a Thinker requires an insane amount ofdiscipline and commitment. Doing involves risk but it’s the only way to make progress.

If you are not daring and focused enough, you can never get past the “thinking” stage of getting work done. Stop thinking you are at a disadvantage because of your weaknesses.

Thomas Jefferson once said, Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

If you really need to get something done, you will find a good reason why you have to pursue it otherwise your excuses will constantly convince you why it can’t be done.

Embrace the action habit!

Don’t over-plan and under-act!

Inaction is expensive!

Thinking and planning in advance is important, vital in fact, to your successbut acting is even more crucial to long-term achievement.

Actions you take beat life-changing intentions. Not doing anything is the same as intending to do something but never actually doing it.

“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned” says Peter Marshall

Does it really matter if you wanted or really intended to do something, but ended up just not doing it?

Just thinking about something wont’t do you any good if you don’t actually do it. Every time you put something off, it’s put into a queue, and nearly everything in that order of things to do may NEVER get done.

You can never get real progress if you don’t take action. All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small).

The only failure comes in not attempting. There is no actual failure in giving your all whatever the results.

Momentum comes through actions, so do something that moves you forwards. Even a small act is significant.

Actions also contain the symbolic power to dissolve fears and build self-confidence and belief.

The only thing more daunting than taking action is taking no action. The bigger the actions, the greater the results.

Thinking about doing is more exhausting than doing.

Actually, holding on to too many things to do without necessarily getting them done or taken action makes you anxious and stressed. The constant reminder that you have something to start doesn’t help your wellbeing.

Most things on your to-do list won’t be done. Take them off your list or maintain the healthy habit of doing something about them everyday.

Being overwhelmed with many things to do and no sense of priority (no deadlines) usually means nothing will get done.

Limit your planning time and take action

Committing to action doesn’t end once you make ptogress. It means you never stop pushing.

Action motivates.

What can you do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving your most important goal?

As you think about this question, hold the expectation that the answer will be something simple that can be done in the next 30 minutes or less.Whatever reasonable answer pops into your head, accept it and act on it immediately.

Dale Carnegie once said, Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Get that simple task done as quickly as you can. Sometimes you’ll flow effortlessly into another task. And you will experience the “first action effect” that makes it easy to stay productive. It may take a little practice to use this strategy to consistently take action. But the benefits are enormous.

Once you commit to getting started, momentum carries you. Producing results builds positive momentum. With momentum you’ll get ahead and make progress much faster.

Waiting is the least motivating thing you can do.

Not only is doing easier than thinking about doing, but doing also gives you the ability to check something off your to-do list, giving you a sense of progress, engagement, fulfillment, and accomplishment.

Action is the greatest gift that only you can give to yourself, so get started.

Before you go…

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Key Ideas

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Moving from thinking to doing

Moving from thinking to doing

It's easier to spend time picturing our goal or what a project is going to be like than to actually do the project. We tend to value the thinking mindset more than the doing mindset.

Results come to those who act. Just being willing to sit down and apply yourself, however tiny, will give you greater returns.

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Leonardo Da Vinci

"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."

Leonardo Da Vinci

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Thomas Jefferson

"Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."

Thomas Jefferson

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Inaction will cost you

Don't over-plan and under-act. Thinking and planning are vital to your success, but action is even more important.

You can't get real progress if you don't take action. When you read a book or article on taking action, immediately apply something from it, even if it is small.

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889 READS

Limit your planning time and take action

Committing to action means you never stop pushing.

Think of something you can do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving your most important goal. The answer should be something simple that can be done in the next 30 minutes. Then act on it immediately. Once you commit to getting started, momentum will carry you.

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Results come to those who act upon their plans, not to those that spend most of their time seeking the right way to do it.

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“An overnight success is ten years in the making.”

There are no “overnight successes”

There are no quick hacks that bring faster results.

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Explaining inaction

Some possible but weak reasons why action is hard:

  • Talent. But the world is full of brilliant stars that flame out and mediocre minds that build empires.
  • Preferences can explain our failure to try, but don't explain our inner struggles with inaction.
  • Capacity for effort. If your capacity for doing things is lower, it does not explain chronic bursts of activity with inevitable crashes in your goals and projects.
  • Motivation. Some people with the most reason have the hardest time taking action. 

Confidence

Motivation and expectation of success create a feedback loop:
  • Your motivation to complete a task depends on the value of the reward and your expectation of success. 
  • Your expectation of success depends on your motivation.

If your projects tend to fail, your expectations are low, and motivation fades. If your projects tend to succeed, your expectations go up, and motivation stays strong.