Combating Big Picture Thinking and Lack of Action

For when you keep doing what you’re doing and getting what you’re getting

Hi my name is Mike and I have a confession: I’m a big picture thinker. My goals and to-do lists tend to lean toward big and broad.

Of course, broad ideas do not usually get you where you want to go. The dreaming, the feeling, the big thoughts is all well and good; the problem is they are just that, they are thoughts. Without the necessary next phase that breaks down those ideas into steps, they stay ideas and never become a reality.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, here are some ideas I’ve worked with my therapist on to move out of “wheel-spinning” and take action, turning those big pie-in-the-sky ideas into concrete realities.

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” — Mark Twain
  • Get those thoughts out of your head and down on paper

Often when we’re having a hard time focusing, it’s because there are too many ideas, possibilities or other obligations competing for our attention. Take a few minutes to write down all the thoughts and dreams that keep getting in the way of moving forward.

If you write down ten ideas a day, one will be bound to stick.

Write down everything–every class you’ve considered taking (sushi rolling, intro to coding, paddle boarding), every skill you’ve dreamed of mastering (learning a language, carpentry, personal defense), that dream vacation (Great golf courses of the UK and Ireland, Southeast Asia, hell, Branson, Missouri). This list will probably look a lot like your brain feels: a jumbled mess of disjointed thoughts, however, this gets you in the habit of focusing on what important.

“The best way to get something done is to begin” — Anonymous
  • Categorize

Get out three pieces of paper and start dividing your big, messy list into three lists, one list per sheet. The three lists shall be “Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” lists.
You’ll quickly figure out what is, and what isn’t, a priority to you once you’ve written down and categorized your ideas. You’ll also figure out how quick/easy/doable/inexpensive some of these “pie in the sky” ideas you have are. We all have obligations in our life that we always need to attend to so I’m not going to pretend you don’t have other priorities, but again this is about building a habit and following through with our ideas.

I realize it’s impossible to say, “I want to learn French!” and then a week later you’ll be watching an artsy foreign film without subtitles. These things take time, but more importantly, they take organization and commitment.

Believe me, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment as you move things from Do-to-Doing-to-Done.

Your Do/Doing/Done list doesn’t need to be as big and meticulous as the one above, but trust me it will help you go from being a “dreamer” to being a “doer”. I urge you to spend 10 minutes today doing just this so you can quit spinning your wheels because…

“Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

Have any advice on organizing your ideas to boost productivity? I’d love to hear from you!