Why we don’t do what we should be doing?
And how to break out of the vicious loop.
There is one thing that I find absolutely amazing about most of us. It’s this —
Deep down we all know what is it that we need to do. We know what will make us happier, what will make us healthier, what will help us grow.
We know exactly what we should be doing with our time, with our lives.
And despite knowing all of that, we just don’t ACT on it.
It just becomes one of those things that we talk about, dream about and obsess about, but it never makes it way into our reality.
How sad is that! 😐
I don’t know if you have been there. But, the reason I am writing about it is because I have been stuck there too.
More often that I dare to admit. Much longer than I dare to admit. So long that I began to notice how it was a really big and a very common problem in a lot of people!
In this article, I have written about the 8 things that are responsible for us getting stuck that vicious loop of inaction and procrastination. You might relate to a few or all of them. It’s time to overcome them. 👊
Let’s get started —
I only recently discovered that life is really simple. We are either acting out of fear or out of love.
When we start moving towards our dreams, we will definitely encounter fear in all its forms.
The map of life carved out by fear looks like this — You think about what you want to accomplish, you think about a 100 reasons why you can’t do it, you think about what will happen if you try and it doesn’t work out, you think about what people will think or say about you. This thinking exhausts you and then you just go back to binge watching that stupid sitcom.
It’s easy to see that this map sucks! More importantly, following this means you are feeding yourself lies about your inabilities to justify your laziness.
So not done right? So what can you do instead?
Remember these four things. And, carve them to your heart —
- There is not a single person who doesn’t face fear.
- Your fear simply indicates the next thing you should be working on. Do it. Conquer it.
- If you don’t conquer these fears, they pile up to become regrets for a lifetime.
- Your fear is full of shit. Get over it. Big or small, take the first step.
When I started my first company, I knew shit about running one. I didn’t know anything about logistics, planning, paying taxes, managing a team. But I started anyways.
In retrospect, despite all the struggles and failures I faced, it’s still the one thing I did in my life that I feel proud of.
Why? Because for most things in life, it doesn’t matter if you WIN or if you have got it ALL figured. There is no end to seeking perfection. You can go on and on trying to perfect things. It’s never going to be ALL right. Besides, if you wait till you are ‘ready’, it might take entire lifetime to start.
It’s only through doing, failing and re-iterating that you actually WIN. That’s how you learn.
Remember this — Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing really preventing us from taking flight.
So, ditch it. Seriously, throw it away. Go out there. Do things. Do them wrong. Be wrong in a hundred different ways. Be laughed at. It doesn’t matter.
You only need to be right once!
Break in momentum
If you are a really serious and intense person, you might obsess about following strict routines like waking up on time or writing a blog once a week. You might even believe that they are so crucial to your success, that you can’t get things done if you don’t follow them well.
And you are partially right. Habits are so important. They form our backbone and determine how well we live and how much we accomplish.
But, let me be really honest about one thing here — There will be breaks in those routines that might cause you to lose your momentum. We’re only humans, afterall.
If you are harsh about those breaks in momentum, then it becomes really hard to get back in the game. You develop a lot of anxiety around it. It just gets exhausting.
What I really mean to say here is this — Routine is great, inculcating good habits is important. BUT, if you fail at it for a day or even a week, it’s really not the end of the world.
I know people who give up on the thought of waking up early after they fail to wake up on the seventh day, or stop their daily meditation after failing to keep with it on the fifteenth day or giving up on the diet they are following because they had a big unplanned cheat meal or stop hitting the gym because they left for a vacation that created a break in momentum.
When you lose your momentum, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. Losing momentum doesn’t mean failure. It just means you need to relax and then slowly work your way back.
For months, I scrolled through the Instagram feed of the hand-lettering artists that I absolutely adored while telling myself that I was just seeking inspiration.
While this is what was really happening — Every amazing design that I saw made me realise how far I was from getting to that level.
Till, I reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore. So I logged off and decided that I will only login, when I have learnt enough and created 30 designs of my own.
And it worked. 2 days after quitting Instagram, I sat up all night with my iPad and Apple Pencil and created the first artwork. It was easy to do it when I was not comparing and putting in the work instead.
I recently read this beautiful quote — No one is you. And that’s your power.
When we are busy comparing, what we miss out on is using our own power. We just let it die slowly.
There is a five word simple advice to beat comparison — Create more than you consume.
Do that and it will change your life.
Stuck in the rut
Sometimes, we end up spending a large number of days repeating the same cycle of actions that just dull us down and make it really hard to take any action at all.
It specially happens when your work hours consume large chunks of the day leaving little time for you to explore your creative side and take action towards things that really matter to you.
Being stuck in the rut makes it seem like life is passing too fast with you having little or no time at all.
The only way to tackle this problem is to be extra disciplined and manage your time really well. It might require drawing boundaries with how much time you allow yourself to give to your work. It might also be needed for you to reflect upon your efficiency levels.
Think about it. Maybe you are spending too much time on trivial things or are too distracted to do deep meaningful work?
Step up the game and get out of the rut. It’s your life and it’s absolutely your responsibility and no one else’s to ensure that your days don’t pass like they don’t matter.
Lack of planning
I have always been so overwhelmed by the enormity of the things that I want to accomplish that the task of sitting down and chalking a plan is what scares the shit out of me. Maybe because it makes me realise that there is only a limited amount of things that I can get done. And even they need to be planned out.
Well, maybe that’s precisely why we need planning.
Without a little amount of planning, it’s impossible to take action. The big dreams need to be broken down into small actionable items. Otherwise, they will just remain as dreams.
When I started planning out my weeks and days in advance and putting them on my calendar, it helped me accomplish so much more. The idea of planning is to remove that phase of doubt and inaction. When you are clear about what needs to be done, you just get it done. Not thinking about what needs to be done is one step less for your brain.
Otherwise, you just wake up and feel overwhelmed.
There is this part within us that makes us feel that we need to know more in order to be ready to take action. Information bias is a type of cognitive bias that describes the tendency to seek information when it does not affect action.
We can spend all our lives reading books and articles about what we need to do. And we can tell ourselves that it’s the same as taking action.
But taking action is about creation not consumption.
Remember, more information is not always better. There’s so much you already know. You can easily start by taking action on that.
Seeking feedback on something you created is an amazing way to grow. Seeking validation before you even begin is a way of procrastinating. Don’t confuse between the two.
Did you ever had a cool idea and then lost enthusiasm to work on it after talking about it to a few people?
That’s what happens when you are waiting for everyone in the room to say ‘yes’ before you can begin. You don’t need that.
What you need is to sit with your idea, work on it, create a prototype and maybe then think of talking to people.
Concluding this, I want to mention something I recently read somewhere — For whatever it is that you need to do in life, you should make two lists — ‘why it will work’ and ‘why it won’t’. Then decide which list you will carry with you at all times.
The number one reason why we don’t take action is because we are carrying the wrong list with us. And in time, we will prove ourselves right because not taking a chance is the best way to ensure failure.
Ditch that list and start carrying the list of ‘Why it will work’ at all the times with you. It’s not going to be easy but it’s worth it.
Take action. Do things that you know you should be doing. Nobody knows them better than you do.
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I am Shreya Dalela, a copywriter & digital strategist. I help companies and individuals create a powerful brand voice and effective content marketing strategies.
I am also the founder of The Creatives Hour, where I write on topics related to creativity, mental health, and psychology. Through my writings, I aim to help people find a creative outlet to connect deeper with themselves.