And a big hello to my over-thinking friends. You know who you are. As I’ve said many times before…
The Almost Brigade
Many of us have been almost doing things for years. Almost changing habits. Almost getting in shape. Almost facing our fears. We boldly stand at the precipice of change like soldiers about to go to war. With the only problem being, we never go. We don’t fire a single bullet. Sure, we have the weapons and the potential to improvise, adapt and overcome but somehow… here we are. Still.
The Theory of Change
Yes, we think about how we’re going to change our lives. Constantly. And what we’re going to do. And how we’ll do it. We’ve talked about it. Researched it. Visualised it. Seen others do it. Planned for it. Hoped for it. Wanted, waited and intended but in that place outside our head (the physical world), we’ve never actually done the job. In most cases, we know what to do but (for a range of reasons) we don’t do what we know. We are theoretically and conceptually brilliant. If only life was a theory. A wish-list. A goal-setting sheet. A time-line.
Or an idea.
We all know that intentions aren’t actions, thinking isn’t doing and wanting requires no sacrifice, courage or effort. So, the challenge for us over-thinkers and under-doers is to escape the cycle of analysis paralysis and become the courageous, adventurous person who dares to explore their potential and do what success requires.
Good in theory Harper, but how?
Like most challenges, there’s no one-approach-fits-all solution but there are some strategies, ideas and techniques which have proven to be valuable to many people over the ages. Here are a few:
1. Control your controllables. As of right now, stop wasting time and energy on things you have zero control of. Namely, the past, other people, your genetics, the weather… should I continue? Here’s a healthy question: In this situation, this environment, this relationship, this conversation, this moment (etc.), what can I control? And another: what should I do today? Rather than, what am I comfortable doing?
2. Stop repeating yourself. And stop believing your own stories. Make a conscious effort to stop having the same pointless conversations about the same issues. With others and yourself.
3. Don’t wait for the perfect time. For the most part, perfect timing is a myth. It’s just another delaying tactic. We know what you’re up to. Some people will die waiting for the right time. Don’t join the club.
4. Shift your focus. Imagine I said to you “if you don’t think about the number seven for the next sixty seconds, I’ll give you a million dollars”. You’d never win the money because you’d constantly be telling yourself not to think about the number seven. Trying to ‘not’ think about something doesn’t work. Instead, shift your attention and energy elsewhere. Try something more positive. Something more solution-focused. I’ve always found that helping others with their challenges puts my so-called problems into a very different perspective. The less I obsess about me, the more empowered and effective I become.
5. Every so often, do something that scares you. Not to be mistaken with doing something life-threatening or stupid. When we face our fears and come out the other side (as we usually do), we experience an immediate internal shift. For the better. Overcoming fear is typically about doing more and thinking less.
6. Commit to doing something new every day. Having new experiences helps us transform our internal landscape. It could be something big (jumping out of a plane) or something small (saying hello to a stranger). When we do different we become different. Change produces change.
7. Hang out with doers. People who will challenge you. Not people who will get on board your train to Over-Thinkers-Ville.
8. Allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s okay to be wrong. And flawed. And dysfunctional. Normal, in fact. Welcome to the world’s biggest club. Some people never take a first step because their goal is perfection. Such a bad goal. Don’t let your ego (“I don’t want to look stupid”) get in the way of your potential. When you’re making mistakes, you’re learning, you’re taking chances, you’re being proactive and mostly importantly, you’re growing.