In a world where everyone is always on go-mode, it’s very easy to get caught in the rat race. Constantly moving without actually getting anywhere. Whether it’s with your job, with your relationships, with your fitness, or really anything, we as human beings often confuse the motion of everyday life with action. In this article I will break down a 3-part process for taking legitimate action so that you can see true progress in whatever your goal may be.
Motion is the most common form of activity we do. Motion is completing tasks that seem like we are being productive or effective, when in reality we aren’t. You might also know motion by its more common name: busy-work.
For a salesperson this might look like gathering and compiling phone numbers to make sales calls without actually making a call. For someone looking to start exercising this might look like signing up for a gym membership or speaking with a personal trainer without making a commitment or actually going to the gym. For a student who is going to study this might look like preparing a nice quiet space, gathering textbooks or notebooks, and getting organized with a study plan.
Motion is not inherently a bad thing, but we often confuse it for taking action. People who fall into the hamster wheel of motion typically feel productive but actually aren’t. Have you ever been working on a task that includes a lot of steps, but then when you get to the one big step that requires taking action, you find yourself like a deer in the headlights? I know I have. You may feel like you accomplished a lot, when in reality you haven't accomplished that one big task you ultimately wanted to accomplish.
For the aforementioned salesperson, that big step is actually making the sales call and speaking to clients. For the person looking to get healthier, that big step is actually going to the gym and exercising or meeting with the personal trainer for a session. For the student, that big step looks like actually cracking open the textbook, reviewing homework questions, and/or watching lectures and taking notes.
As I mentioned before, motion is not a bad thing, but you have to turn your motion into momentum in order to more easily take those daunting action steps.
Momentum is the snowball effect of motion. The compound interest, if you will. Momentum is also the successful completion of multiple action steps in a row. This is where motion goes from being inefficient to efficient. Where busy work becomes steppingstones for success. Where monotony turns into motivation.
Let’s talk about physics for a second. Bear with me. Let’s say you have a heavy box that you need to push across the floor. In order to get the box to slide along the ground you have to push with a force greater than the friction force that is resisting the box’s movement. However, once you get the box moving, it becomes easier to move the box along the ground. That is because the friction force is greater when the box is stationary compared to when it is in motion.
The same way the box is harder to push at rest, we also have to perform actions that help us get on a roll towards taking action and accomplishing our goals. When we perform activities within the category of motion, we generate momentum towards achievement. The same way a sound financial investment compounds, so can your motivation to take action. When your motion turns into momentum, I call those action steps.
The next step is to take action. Taking action is doing that one big task that is our goal to complete. Taking action could be anywhere from making your bed to completing a triathlon to going and getting a car wash. It all depends on what your goals are.
You have to put your action steps in reference to the timing of your goal. For example, a long-term goal (5 years or more) will have drastically different action steps than a goal you have for your day. The important thing to remember is to make sure you are taking daily action steps towards your goals no matter how far ahead in the future they may be.
The key to taking action is using the momentum you’ve already generated. Once you have that momentum, it’s a lot easier to dive right into accomplishing your goals. Once you have taken action, it gets even easier to take action on other important tasks you have. This is that second form of momentum that I mentioned earlier. Eventually this process of taking action will become a habit, and it will come naturally. It is important that you are conscientious of this process at first, and it might even help for you to write out the steps necessary to accomplishing your tasks or goals. Once you become aware of this process, you'll begin to notice if what you're doing is simply just motion, or if you are actually taking action.
So what are you waiting for... get started taking action!
· Don’t mistake motion for action
· To turn your motion into momentum, create little wins by completing action steps
· Use your momentum to dive right into taking real and effective action towards your goals.