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The Overthinker’s Guide to Taking Action

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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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

John F. Kennedy

"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of co..."

John F. Kennedy
Acting upon your ideas

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.

When it comes to goals, projects, and other to-do items, it’s easy to get stuck too long in the thinking and planning phase. And unfortunately, most of them will never be done.

Being a Doer

This requires a lot of discipline, commitment and risk-taking, 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.

The problem with big goals

... is that they can be intimidating. They can paralyze you into inaction.

The big picture can be overwhelming, but in little parts, it seems achievable. Every step forward brings you ...

Tom Clancy
Tom Clancy
“An overnight success is ten years in the making.”
There are no “overnight successes”

There are no quick hacks that bring faster results.

Every incredibly successful person you know today has been through the boring, mundane, time-tested process that eventually brings success. 

Taking action = eventual success
Taking action = eventual success

Inaction is the biggest cause of our failures and our miseries. If we could consistently do the things we know we should do, we would be more successful, and our lives would be better. Yet w...

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.