Dreams, hopes, desires, and plans are all wonderful things. When used productively, they’re the fuel for making things happen. However, to ultimately make things happen, you must take action. You have to get out there and do something. Having all the knowledge in the world does nothing for you if you’re not actually putting it into practice.
I’ve learned this lesson in the last year, and it’s fundamentally changed my life. I used to be so worried about knowing enough or being well-positioned to start on projects. What I’d not focused before, though, was jumping in and taking action. In nearly every interesting or worthy endeavor, I failed to take the deliberate action that could’ve ultimately lead me to where I wanted to be.
To be clear: that’s not to say that I’ve spent the last few years under a rock, doing nothing. On the contrary, I did many things, but in a much less focused manner than I do now. Before I internalized the action lesson, I’d do things but never with the knowledge that a particular action was the current key to my success. At that point, I failed to see that the very act I was engaging in could be the lynchpin of my work. The action was the key: not the reading I was doing; certainly not the lamenting and worrying that I’d engage in. It took me a while to realize that getting into a groove was one of the best things I could do for myself.
Why? Because the primary benefit of taking action is this: building momentum. Taking action means that you’ve decided on a path and that you’re ready to step onto that path and see where it leads. It very likely won’t be where you thought it would lead. Few worthy paths ever form straight, predictable lines. You’re likely to face strife, obstacles, and even be forced to back track or find another path at times. This is fine, and you’d do yourself well to expect that these things will come up.
Further, just because you’re moving and capitalizing on momentum doesn’t mean you have to move quickly or without thought or planning. I’m a huge proponent of taking time to do what needs to be done, but at some point, we must act. To do work that matters, we must act. To helps others, we must act. To live a satisfying and enriching life, we must act. Make a plan and be thoughtful but be sure that plan is a plan of action.
Living peacefully and living a life of meaningful connection have become the cornerstones of my work and my approach to life. When I make an action plan, I’m careful approach it with an eye firmly planted on peacefulness and connection. I not only consider what I can do to increase my self-connection but also my connection to those who play vital roles in my life. Of course, when I’m considering a new opportunity or idea, I figure out how to make peacefulness a central part of it. If an opportunity isn’t conducive to either, I put it aside. It’s just not meant for me. I put my thoughts, ideas, and actions elsewhere.
If you’re looking to do something – anything! – getting there ultimately starts with taking your first action. Plan and plot, but always do it in a manner that produces an actionable plan. Be deliberate. Be smart. And always find a way to take the next step forward.
Have you recently taken action on something, and it’s changed your life? Please share! I’m interested in hearing how action has figured positively into your life.