Could have,… would have,… still should!
Let’s talk about 6 reasons why we don’t take action.
I really love helping people, I am so passionate about empowering others and helping them but as I sat down to write this post, I had a thought. Before I start telling people what to do, or how they should fix procrastination, I thought, let me point that finger at myself to begin with.
I’m absolutely sure that I am not alone, with the thoughts I have and the ‘perfectly good’ excuses I come up with, to delay what I need to do.
So, as I sat here, taking a good and hard look at myself, I realised that one of the main reasons I don’t take action or keep delaying what I need to do, is that I can be quite scatty. Allow me to elaborate.
1. Being a bit scatty
I absolutely love self-development and learning. I also like big words and even bigger promises. It goes without saying that when I see a new workshop or masterclass or online training my eyes light up! Wow this one promises instant financial independence, this one says I can finally take charge of my future, ohhh but this one guarantees I will get more clients, ohhh I am so spoiled for choice.
The scenario is the same every time:
I get super excited, and I sign up
I absolutely promise myself that this time it will be different, and I stick with it as this IS the program I’ve been waiting for
I cannot wait to get started and I can already taste the results
I’ll do well initially but I slowly but surely allow life to get in the way
I will justify the heck out of why I didn’t stick with it. I know it was supposed to be only 15 minutes a day but I had to take 20 minutes to brush my hair instead, I mean that is super important after all…
I come across an even better program, that THIS TIME will absolutely change my life and give me what I need,…and we’re back to getting super excited and signing up…
Does that sound familiar to you?
Bonus Tip: paying a$$ loads of money won’t help either. Sadly, the amount paid is not in direct correlation to the results gained. Money just isn’t a strong enough motivator. Not for me anyway.
The problem I believe is that, I just don’t get results fast enough and I get impatient. Yet somehow, I always manage to convince myself that the next program will do wonders.
We live in an extremely fast paced world and having instant results and instant gratification is what we crave, every minute of the day! Having to work or wait for something just won’t do anymore. We have been spoiled for choice on so many levels and having to wait for something seems so alien.
What can be done?
I think that one of the most important things is to keep focusing on the desired result, the goal, the dream and while doing that remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day either.
We look at so many people and think that they were an overnight success, or they somehow didn’t have to work as hard but that’s far from the truth. Unfortunately, barely anyone talks about the failures and the roadblocks or how long it actually took them to get to where they are today.
When we haven’t reached our goal fast enough, we might blame ourselves, the tools we are using, or the circumstances, you name it, but the reality is, a lot of the time we give up to soon and jump to the next ‘great thing’.
Is that true or am I right?
And this leads me very nicely onto my next point.
2. Feeling overwhelmed
This point actually ties back in wonderfully to the first one. We are absolutely spoiled for choice and that can get overwhelming very quickly.
Everyone seems to have the solution, the product, the best thing that you didn’t even know you needed and we get bombarded with offers. Having so much to choose from, whether its suppliers, service providers or products, the fear or making the wrong choice can be crippling.
We might delay making an important decision out of fear of making the wrong one or regretting it further down the line.
What can be done?
I understand that making decisions can involve a financial aspect as well and nobody wants to throw money out the window… Having said that, there isn’t a full proof solution.
What I suggest is:
Do your research
Make a short-list
Use your intuition
and stick with it!
Spending some time initially to do some research will definitely pay off in the long term, so even if it seems time consuming or tedious now just make that effort and you will be rewarded.
When doing the research, I would suggest looking at the top players or brands in the field you are interested in and then narrowing it down to your exact needs.
Pro Tip: “When in doubt, cut it out!” ;)
Perhaps some of you have raised an eyebrow by now, seeing the <use your intuition> point, but it’s there for a reason. You will inevitably get a feeling, an emotion when you pick out anything, don’t ignore it. Just because statistics or friends are urging you to pick a certain think, it might not be right for you at all. This is your life, your choices, so make the one that feels right for you!
As hard as it may be initially, we need to take a step back and remember that quality work & results take time. As much as we would all like it, there are no shortcuts. Some people can make it look easy but we don’t follow them around 24/7 and we don’t really know all the effort they have put in.
Regardless if you are starting a YouTube channel, a podcast or want to become a real-estate agent, stick with it for at least 4 to 6 months and if you don’t see any results, then either change the strategy or move on. Consistency is key however!
If you feel like you are not getting the desired results, take a moment and assess the situation.
Are you really investing the right amount of time and effort?
Is this truly what you want to be doing? What is it that you could do better or in a different way to get results? It’s unbelievably important to take a good look at ourselves and ask what we could be doing better, before we shift the blame onto others or circumstances.
Another aspect of feeling overwhelmed can be that you simply have too much to do. This however is also a question of choice. What will you prioritise? What needs to be done first?
As hard as it may seem, take that pen & paper and the time to make a list.
Slay your biggest dragon first, get the hardest and nastiest tasks out of the way, (you will thank me later ;)
Focus on tasks that bring the most value
Anything you can delegate, do it!
The next reason we might not be taking action is simply because we are:
Let’s face it, when we are working on a new project, starting a business or trying to get in shape, we are not excited by the mundane tasks, but sure enough they are there. It’s not always glitz and glamour, excitement and adventure. Every project, activity or venture will have administrative and downright boring parts, but they have to be done. High performers however find it difficult to complete a task that does not challenge them.
Our mind loves to be stimulated, it’s much like a goal seeking missile, so when faced with something simple and mundane we usually try to stay away from it.
I mean wouldn’t you much rather watch an episode of your favourite new show than to wash the dishes? I mean those dishes are nasty and they need a wash but the show is just way more exciting!
This is just a silly example but it’s really as simple as that.
What can be done?
When you are faced with such situations:
Focus! Focus on the bigger picture and the goal you want to achieve
Re-evaluate your goals all together. Is it really the right direction for you? Is this goal big enough? Exciting enough? Average is like a disease and certainly unwanted. Can you imagine going to a hairdresser and asking for an average haircut? Or going out to dinner and asking for an average meal? -“ohhh no, hold the stake and the chef’s special, I’ll have the average chicken dish” ¬_¬ yawn
If you have a project, a dream, a goal, chances are you want it to be great and larger than life. If not, you really need to reconsider. Average won’t get you anywhere!
The fourth reason we might not take action is a particularly interesting one.
4. The motivation is coming from the wrong place
Or should I say, coming from the wrong person? Here we really only need to focus on the following questions:
Is this what you really want?
Why do you want it?
If you've embarked on a quest to impress someone else, out of fear that you might disappoint them otherwise, or to get their appreciation and praise than you are wasting your time.
The praise, the nods and the nice words won’t last. If the motivation is external, it will burn out sooner than a campfire in torrential rain.
It all starts and ends with you. You need to be true to yourself, praise and push yourself.
I read a wonderful concept in Vishen Lakhiani’s ‘The Buddha and the badass’ that I will never forget.
“If you plant a lemon seed, you can only ever get a lemon tree.”
No matter how hard you try you won’t be able to get and apple or a pear tree. It is such a simple but powerful concept. You can only do what you are meant to do. If you try to force yourself to be someone else, you will fail.
What can be done?
It’s really important to:
Take the time and figure out what your heart truly desires, what you were meant to do. This will usually be linked to what you most loved doing between the ages of 7 and 14. What was it that got you really excited, before your parents, guardians and teachers came along and told you what you should be doing? I do offer hypnotherapy sessions to get to the bottom of what your purpose is. Go ahead and book a call if you would like further information.
Take some time and try new things. Perhaps you didn’t have the opportunity to explore many areas in your earlier years but it’s never too late. It’s never too late.
So we are on to reason five, as to why we might not be taking action.
5. We just don’t know how
What I mean by that is, we have a task at hand, and we feel completely confused and worried as we simply don’t know how or what to do. Sometimes it can be hard to admit that. I’ve been there.
There is no shame in not knowing something. I believe it’s more shameful to hide it and try to muddle through. Stepping up and saying, “I want to make sure I get this right, so I will read up on it or ask for help, is far more admirable than trying to fake competence.
What can be done?
Invest in yourself. My German teacher always used to say:
“The more you learn, the more you realise how little you know.”
There is no shame in picking up a book or opening a website, consulting Mr. Google, etc… no shame at all!
Ask for help. Chances are that someone has already done what you are wanting to do, so ask someone who is great in that field. Asking someone for their expertise is usually flattering and if asked in a respectful and perhaps humble way, you are unlikely to get turned away.
Hire someone to do it. If you are starting a company and you feel really intimidated by those invoices and accounts, get a qualified accountant. In certain situations, learning an entire industry might not be the best choice. Trying to do your accounting when you are a master chef is certainly not the best use of your time or skillset. It’s a financial investment now but it will pay off in the long run.
And now it’s time for the F word. Drumroll please!
The Fear Of: rejection, failure, ridicule, and even success can be crippling. I bet you are intrigued by that success one ;) Hold on tight, I will get to it.
Unfortunately, fear is almighty. What most of us might not realise is that fear is there the moment we open our eyes in the morning and until we go to bed. You are probably thinking that I need to turn it down a notch but it’s true. Fear is there, but I am not talking about the same fear as falling off a building or fear of a burglar.
Our brain has one main job. To make sure we survive! Back in the day, way back, we were constantly looking over our shoulder, we were living in fear most of the day. When we were living as tribal people, wild animals, poisonous little red fruits, or getting separated from our tribe could easily kill us. Even though that was many moons ago, our brains haven’t caught up yet. Evolution likes to take its time. We are still tribal people living in a very modern environment.
This is all relevant because our brains are still scared to this day! They are worried about what could kill us, and our brains hate everything that is unfamiliar. It’s a defence mechanism. As we grow up, this changes a bit, but have you ever noticed how babies always want the same food, the same story over and over again and the same blanky?!
It is what evolution has drilled into us- 'the same is safe! '
Just take some time and observe your own behaviour. We are creatures of habit and change is challenging. To some, of course more than others.
The bottom line is that fear guides us throughout the day. So, when you feel yourself backing up from something, about to say no, stop yourself. Take a moment and ask, “is this thought, this decision empowering me? – or is it just my brain being overactive and overprotective again?
The fear of rejection and ridicule is also linked to this same evolutionary matter. As I mentioned, being separated or cast out of your tribe was a death sentence back in the day. We avoided it at all cost. If we got kicked out of the tribe, we had little to no chance of making it on our own. Nowadays it is possible to live on your own, have your shopping delivered and avoid human interaction all together but would you want to live like that? We still need and want each other’s company, more than ever. This is exactly why we fear rejection and ridicule so much! A lack of connection is one of the major causes of depression, but that’s a subject for another day.
So, fear of success. What’s that about??
Surprise surprise, this also goes back to our very early years and the fear of the unknown. If we were never much of a standout performer, a high achiever then success can be quite daunting. All the attention, expectations and the pressure of success can be very off putting to anyone who is not used to it. This is exactly the moment when we summon the self-saboteur. We just don’t feel comfortable in our new role and mostly on a subconscious level, we yearn what is familiar, we want to go back to what we know.
How does that saying go? – “Better the devil you know?”
I rest my case :)
What can be done?
A very valid question at this point. Fear plays such a massive part in our everyday lives and a lot of the time we don’t even realise.
When ever you feel yourself backing out of a situation, retreating, feeling the urge to say no, stop and think. Is this choice, this thought really empowering me? Is this a growth mindset or a fear-based decision?
Quickly pull the handbrake up and apply the 5 second rule. If you are into self-development, chances are you’ve heard of Mel Robbins’ book, the 5 second rule. It is brilliant.
She explains how you only have a fine amount of time to stop your brain rationalising and talking you out of an activity. You have to seize the opportunity and act within those 5 seconds otherwise, chances are your brain will talk you out of it. Counting backwards from 5 is also crucial, because it interrupts the (negative) thought process and allows you to actually take action.
As a reward for sticking around and reading so far, here’s a Bonus Round.
A big reason why we would refrain from taking action could be that deep down we just don’t think that we deserve the success we are seemingly after. Does that sound outrageous or actually hits closer to home than we’d like?
Now this isn’t something we should dismiss, it’s a very valid reason for a lot of us and an explanation as to why we would summon that self-saboteur. If you wish to explore this option further, go ahead, get in touch and we uncover exactly what lies beneath and why you would feel that you don’t deserve success.
So which one, or should I say, how many points from the above can you identify with? :)
What I’ve learned throughout the years is that no matter how many times you fail or get it wrong, get back on the horse!
Allow me to send you off with the 3F formula:
FOCUS – FIGHT – and be FEARLESS
For more information, stay tuned ;)