You are probably familiar with the hamster wheel metaphor I resort to now and again. In a few words, most of the people you know – you included! – are like a little hamster spinning on that wheel non-stop. Looking and feeling busy, constantly in motion. But never leaving the same place. Always returning to the same starting point.
I find this metaphor quite insightful. Apart from hamsters being indeed peculiar creatures, they also seem to be hard-working. Observing them running on that wheel ceaselessly, determined and adamant, makes me wonder what would happen if they realize they are not going anywhere. It may seem obvious from where we stand, how often though do we fall in the exact same trap?
We lead our busy life running from one place to the other – literally running sometimes! When talking to family, friends, colleagues, we intentionally mention how busy we are. We stay in motion all the time and make sure others know about our challenges as well as the tough decisions we make every day. Our tasks are crossed out proudly from our to-do list and yet there is an emptiness underneath, a lack of fulfillment and joy.
You ask yourself why nothing is ever enough. You are doing everything you can, fighting the good fight every single day and it is still not sufficient, you are not satisfied – if you even ask yourself these questions! A hamster will never worry about where he is going or if he is ever going to reach any destination at all, and that is completely fine. Humans have in their nature the ability to question themselves, to reflect, assess, decide, improve, take action.
Taking action is not the same as living in motion. And taking bold action does not necessarily mean changing your life upside down. If you are meant to be busy, then be productive. When making decisions, do it with your best interest at heart. When in motion, move toward your goals. When the moment comes to take action, act in alignment with your vision and purpose.
This week we take a closer look at 5 strategies to guide you into taking bold action toward your goals and dreams.
1. Connect to your purpose: We have talked about purpose before and the weight that this word often carries around. Taking action when you know where you are headed, when you stay connected to your purpose is way easier. It gives you motivation and willpower, especially in those days where you may feel less present. Again, it does not have to be the purpose of a lifetime in its deepest form. In every stage of your life, there is always something that speaks to your heart the loudest. Something you truly enjoy doing or thinking about that immediately puts a smile in your face. Do not overthink it! Just trust your gut, listen to what it is trying to tell you right now. And if in a couple of months or years the purpose is no longer the same – it has been reshaped or changed completely – that is also fine. Action requires energy and determination. Staying connected to your purpose will make any action less of a struggle for sure.
2. Learn to deal with the unpredictable: It is impossible to predict certain outcomes out of our control – we all know by now how this global pandemic has dropped unannounced and caught us by surprise. This is surely an extreme example, but a good one to practice for the future. It is a challenge indeed, but you have resources, both internal and external. Resources to help you cope when the unpredictable happens, as well as to prepare yourself beforehand. You have your own way to deal with pressure and stress, most importantly you know how you usually react to the unforeseen. Whatever helps you to reconnect to your Self – through meditation, deep breathing, yoga, running, praying – make sure you do it. When these moments of greater stress arrive, your winner and resilient mindset will kick in, allowing you to take the required action instead of being stuck or paralyzed.
3. Make small commitments: We want to be bold and courageous. And I’m totally up for that! Courage is one of the main ingredients to success. What is courage though? Is it being the hero of the story every time? Is it inventing something new every day? Is it standing up to everything and everyone we fear at once? I like to think that bold action means showing up even when you least feel it. It is taking one step forward even when uncomfortable. It is speaking up your truth even when in doubt. So, when it comes to take action start small. Instead of starting with the biggest and boldest task from your to-do list which can lead to frustration and procrastination, commit to something you can do right away. Let that feeling of achievement when you finalize that task, spread over and inspire you to the next small accomplishment. Small is yet brave.
4. Get rid of distractions: This one is definitely not new, yet extremely relevant! There will be always something getting in the way. It is up to you to assess its urgency and decide what to do next. If your kid comes running asking for help with their homework or in need for your advice, this is probably one of those responsibilities you will not ignore. However, when it comes to the non-stop notifications on your phone, binge watching your favorite TV shows, scrolling social media for hours, I’m pretty sure you know what you must do. You do not have to live like a hermit! Although, there are times calling for action – focused and determined action – which will not happen if distractions were not eliminated or played to a minimum. Distractions are directly related to procrastination. It does not mean you are a lazy person, rather that you let yourself surrender more easily to what requires less effort and commitment.
5. Implement right now: Waiting for the perfect timing or conditions to take action is a waste of your time. You are certainly familiar with the typical “now it is not a good time because…”, followed by an endless list of – what sounds just like – plausible excuses. Let us say you have sat down, written your action plan, detailed your next steps. Then, you tell yourself you need more time to detail it out, to improve it, to play the best-worst case scenario, and you go on and on. Stop overthinking it! Do not wait until tomorrow or next week. Do it now. Take action right now! This rush, this inspiration you feel right now will dissipate if you do not act. What do you really have to lose compared to what you will gain?
Every action you take may not lead exactly where you thought it would. More to the left, more to the right, quite forward or just a little. Sometimes, more important than where you end up is how you got there. Know why you need to take action, learn during the process, commit to the bold action, keep going and just do it.