When I get to the point of making big life decisions, such as changing careers or buying a franchise, I remember an old Chinese proverb that my mentor, Jeff Elgin, Founder and President of FranChoice, shared with me. These 11 reminders help me to avoid staying in my comfort zone and pursuing happiness. The proverb is called: “Talk doesn’t cook rice.”
Often we spend so much time talking or thinking or planning that we never get around to acting on our intentions. We get stuck in the quagmire of doubt, perfectionism and distractions that stops us from moving forward and choosing our happiness. So, to help propel you from inaction to accomplishment and happiness, focus on what’s really important. Here are some tips to help you get cooking:
- Don’t over-think. It’s good to have a clear picture of where you’re going or why, but too much thinking can be paralyzing. Don’t over-think, just do.
- Forget perfection. Perfectionism is the enemy of action. Kill it, immediately. You can’t let perfect stop you from doing. You can turn a bad draft into a good one, but you can’t turn no draft into a good draft. So get going.
- Don’t mistake motion for action. A common mistake. A fury of activity doesn’t mean you’re doing anything. When you find yourself moving too quickly, doing too many things at once, this is a good reminder to stop. Slow down. Focus.
- Focus on the important. Clear the distractions. Pick the one most important thing you must do today, and focus on that. Exclusively. When you’re done with that, repeat the process.
- Move slowly, consciously. Be deliberate. Action doesn’t need to be done fast. In fact, that often leads to mistakes, and while perfection isn’t at all necessary, neither is making a ridiculous amount of mistakes that could be avoided with a bit of consciousness.
- Take small steps. Biting off more than you can chew will kill the action. Maybe because of choking, I dunno. But small steps always work. Little tiny blows that will eventually break down that mountain. And each step is a victory, that will compel you to further victories.
- Negative thinking gets you nowhere. Seriously, stop doing that. Self doubt? The urge to quit? Telling yourself that it’s OK to be distracted and that you can always get to it later? Squash those thoughts. Well, OK, you can be distracted for a little bit, but you get the idea. Positive thinking, as corny as it sounds, really works. It’s self-talk, and what we tell ourselves has a funny habit of turning into reality.
- Meetings aren’t action. This is a common mistake in management. They hold meetings to get things done. Meetings, unfortunately, almost always get in the way of actual doing. Stop holding those meetings!
- Talking (usually) isn’t action. Well, unless the action you need to take is a presentation or speech or something. Or you’re a television broadcaster. But usually, talking is just talking. Communication is necessary, but don’t mistake it for actual action.
- Planning isn’t action. Sure, you need to plan. Do it, so you’re clear about what you’re doing. Just do it quickly, and get to the actual action as quickly as you can.
- Reading about it isn’t action. You’re reading a blog about action. Ironic, I know. But let this be the last one for now. Get to work!