Most of understand that our results are a direct reflection of our actions. If we plant the seeds of an apple, then at some point in the future, we are going to be picking apples from the tree in front of us. If we want cherries, then we needed to have planted cherry seeds instead. It makes no sense to plant apples then get upset when it turns out we actually wanted cherries in the end.
So if we know that our actions lead to our outcomes in a cause-effect relationship, then why don’t we take more action? And more importantly, why don’t we take more action in the specific direction of our goals? I mean, we are all busy all the time, so must be doing something, but it isn’t always helping us to achieve our goals and objectives in life.
I believe there are 6 main reasons why we are not taking the right levels of action, and why we are falling victim to what Aristotle called Akrasia; a weakness of will that causes us to be pulled away from what is right and in accordance with our purpose for a more immediate form of gratification.
1 – Not Enough Knowledge
If you do not know what to do, how on earth can you even get started. Blind optimism can only get you so far, but successful people are those who take the time to research and investigate their chosen paths. Sure, you can get started before you know everything (something which is highly advisable… don’t use this as an excuse to procrastinate!), but once you do, it is important to start educating yourself in your chosen field. Read books, get work experience, volunteer and do whatever you can to learn more about the path you are on.
2 – Too Much Information
So many of us suffer from information overload. The internet is filled with alternative opinions on the best way to do anything. Even if you just want to fold a piece of paper into 3, there are over 10 million pages of advice on the internet. Many of us procrastinate because we are unsure of the best way to proceed, and until we have evaluated all ten million pages for their individual merit, how can we possibly begin? Instead, use the Principle of Good Enough which says start, then improve iteratively as often as you need to.
3 – Scared
Some of us feel genuine fear when it comes to starting something new, and maybe that is why you have never started on that journey. Maybe you never learned to drive, or swim or ride a horse. There isn’t much that we can be truly scared of, but sometimes we have fears that hold us back. The question you need to ask is whether or not your outcome is more important than your fear? If it isn’t, then carry on as you have been. But if it is, and you are committed, then maybe it is time to face your fear and do it anyway!
4 – Lack of Clarity
If you do not know exactly what steps to take and in what order, it is likely you will procrastinate or not take any action. This is why clarity is so important and why in Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill identified an Organised Plan as one of the key elements of successful people. It is important to understand all of the steps you need to take, and then arrange them accordingly based on your priorities. If you are managing others, you need to be clear enough on your plan so that you can teach it to them. Step back for a moment, get clean, then get back to it.
5 – No Drive or Passion
Some people get comfortable and then lose the drive to push themselves further. “It could be worse” is the phrase people with a lack of motivation use to justify their inertia. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, and I certainly wish that for you. However, don’t allow it to extinguish the fire inside. Your purpose in life is to fully express the talents that you have, and if you get too comfortable too soon, you will certainly fall someway short of your true potential. Get excited about what you are capable of doing, then go do it!
6 – Risk Aversion
When we are younger, we are prepared to do almost anything to get to where we want to be. However, as we get older, we grow attached to our identities, our possessions, our lifestyle and tend to become more averse to risk. This leads us to choose the easier path, the smallest possible change and do whatever we can to defend the status quo. Ironically, you are stronger now than you were then, have more talents and ability to justify taking some risks. Challenge yourself, push the envelope and see how high you can fly.
So, there you have my top six reasons on why we don’t take as much action as we could. Do any of these sound familiar? If they do, please leave a comment below and tell us all your story on how to overcome such challenges.