Life actually starts when you start doing things: Despite best intentions, ideas, one can overthink a course of action when it’s better to just start (& take risks).
Do you have any big ambitions and dreams that you would love to achieve, but that you can never really seem to actually make headway on?
Maybe it just never seems as if it’s the right time, or perhaps you are always “too busy” to get started on putting your plans into action. Then again, maybe you find it just about impossible to actually make a plan, because everything seems too complex, and there are way too many variables to factor in.
When all is said and done, it’s common for people to have great ambitions and dreams, but to never actually do much of anything when it comes to actually pursuing those dreams.
On the other hand, the people out there who do actually achieve significant things are almost always action-focused, and have honed the skill of getting started, keeping going, and getting things done regardless of the obstacles and issues that may be in the way.
This is true for athletes, great entrepreneurs, and just about everyone else. When you look at the greats of the NBA: 2010-2020 period, for example, you’re going to be seeing a lot of men who didn’t sit around overthinking, but who were in the habit of making things happen.
Of course, it’s important not to be reckless in life, and no one wants to create a catastrophe by doing the wrong thing at the wrong time. Outside of immediate safety concerns, and moral considerations, though, it almost always is better to just stop overthinking and to start taking action.
Here are some reasons why it’s time to stop overthinking and to start taking action.
Because momentum is an extremely powerful thing
Momentum is a huge deal in any kind of achievement whatsoever, because the bottom line is that an object in motion stays in motion, and it’s almost always far harder to actually get started than it is to keep going once you have got started.
Of course, the thing about momentum is that it’s impossible to develop any other way than by taking action. In order for “an object in motion to stay in motion,” it first has to get into motion to begin with.
Very often, people tend to wait for motivation, before getting started – but motivation is unpredictable, and momentum is a much more surefire way of actually getting you to where you want to go.
One of the great things about momentum, is that it often dissolves many of the worries, hangups, and forms of internal resistance that may be holding you back and preventing you from exploring your full potential. What seems daunting, stressful, even insurmountable, in the here and now, often seems far more manageable when you’re actually in the process of taking action, and have worked up some steam.
Many great things are only achieved because a more or less reluctant first action was taken, which then created a swell of momentum, which in turn grew and grew and resulted in things actually happening.
Because you can easily talk yourself out of things, but you’ll never know the reality until you take action
As human beings, we are all generally very good at talking ourselves out of things, and letting our self-doubts, insecurities, and personal hangups have an undue influence on how we ultimately view ourselves, and the things we are willing to try.
It’s always easy to talk yourself out of things, whether through sheer fear, or through rationalisations designed to cover up the fact that you’re nervous. “Well, today isn’t the right time to do that thing, obviously, because I’m really busy, and after all, I didn’t get a great night’s sleep, and…”
While your thoughts can be completely deceptive, though, taking action and actually experiencing things directly gives you a clarity of insight that you probably never would have been able to summon up through any amount of mental gymnastics, or reflection.
The bottom line is that just because you think you’re not capable of doing something, or that there are just too many obstacles in the way, doesn’t actually make it true. You could simply be a victim of your own negative thoughts and your tendency to overthink, and if you confronted the reality head-on, it might surprise you.
Taking action is a great way of testing your theories and ideas, and balancing them against the world at large. Instead of trusting your own perceptions about things too much, it might be a good idea to actually take action and to then judge where you stand afterwards.
Because motivation often arrives after the fact
As alluded to a couple of points ago, motivation is an unreliable thing to depend on, when it comes to getting you to actively pursue your dreams, never mind to achieve them.
The bottom line is that motivation is fickle. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s not, and perhaps more often than not, motivation actually arrives after the fact.
In other words, it’s likely to be the case that, if you take action when you don’t feel like it, you’ll start to feel “motivated” down the line, as you set yourself into motion. if you just wait for motivation to come along, though, you may be waiting forever – or, at least, you may be waiting until a great opportunity has passed you by completely.
You can’t easily think yourself into being motivated. Motivation is a feeling, and the best way to generate that feeling, if it’s not already there, isn’t to sit around and reflect on all the reasons why it would be a good idea to take action – it’s to just take a deep breath, and to step out there.
Action fuels motivation; overthinking does not, and may even diminish it.
Because taking action opens up other doors and unlocks other opportunities along the way
Many people hold back from pursuing their dreams, because they just can’t think of a seemingly effective strategy for actually getting all the way from point A to point B. It’s one thing to know that you want to be in great shape, for example, but it’s another thing altogether to try to figure out the perfect workout program and dietary template.
The thing about action, though, is that it tends to open up other doors along the way, and to illuminate the path forward, as you progress along it.
The lucky truth is that you don’t need to have a perfect plan from the get-go, you just need to start out on the path with energy and purpose, and to follow the trail where it leads. Even if you do fall short of the particular goal you had been pursuing, you can be sure that a huge range of other opportunities and insights will come your way, and you will be in a much more powerful and positive position than you were in to start with.
Because fear and hesitation grow the more you allow them to dictate your behaviour
Not only does action help to fuel motivation, and generate momentum, but inaction actually does the exact opposite.
When you allow your fears and hesitations to keep you in place, you don’t stay in a “neutral” state of balance. Instead, you backslide, and your confidence, courage, willpower, and sense of perspective will all diminish and darken.
It’s a well-known fact that when people give in to their fears, psychologically speaking, those fears become stronger, and the individual in question loses the ability to manage as effectively in that situation. There’s a reason why riders are told to get right back up on the horse if they fall off; it’s so that fear doesn’t have time to set in and spook them out of riding for the rest of their lives.
So, you have two good reasons in one for taking action instead of overthinking and allowing your fears to keep you static. Firstly, taking action makes you stronger and more confident, and secondly, listening to your fears and doubts makes you weaker and less confident.
Because life is a story, and it’s a much more interesting story when you’re actually doing things
We all want our lives to be great stories – and, on one level or another, we all think of ourselves as the “heroes” of our own personal epics.
That’s the reason why we always identify with the protagonist in a movie, instead of with a random background character who gets squashed in the first 10 minutes.
Your life is your own story to write, and it’s just a much more interesting story when you’re actually doing things, instead of dwelling in your own head constantly.
If you knew that the story of your life would be published a few decades from now – or that you would have to tell it all to your grandchildren – would you want that story to involve adventure, excitement, effort, enthusiasm, or a lot of sitting on the sofa and fretting about whether or not it’s time to get started?
Regardless of whether you achieve any given goal or not, the story of your life will simply be much more interesting when you’re actually doing things.