Winning at Life Requires Action
But How Do You Start When You Don’t Know Where to Begin?
“ACTION! ACTION! WE WANT ACTION!
I remember hearing that cheer every fall weekend at our high school football games. The spirited cheer squad bounced up and down as they clapped, encouraging our team to push hard, take action, and win the game. They wanted action, and so did the spectators in the stands. Not only did action make for an exciting game, but it often led to the victory we were there to see.
Many years have passed since I sat in those cold metal bleachers cheering on the Willingboro Chimeras. But one thing I recognize, now more than ever before, is that if you want to win in football or in life, you must take action. The imperative in this chant is still relevant in my life today. However, if I were to wordsmith it to make it a little more accurate, I’d replace the “want” with “need.” “Action! Action we NEED Action!”
Taking action in life is not-a-nice to have; it is a necessity. Without deciding and taking action we remain stuck, stagnating where we are. Time marches on. Situations occur that change the landscape of our lives. If we don’t take action, and adapt or make changes ourselves, then life will decide for us. Circumstances will act on us, for better or worse. The question is: do you want to leave your lot in life up to chance?
Winning at Life Requires Action
Life is like a game. If we want to feel like we are winning at it, then taking action is not something we just want to see it is something we need to do. Often people are afraid to act because they don’t want to make a mistake, they don’t want to look bad in the eyes of others, or they can’t see exactly how to get from where they are to where they want to be, so they wait for the right time, the approval of others, or all the answers before making a move. And they wait and wait.
It is in this sitting back and waiting that depletes them of their aliveness and creates or reinforces their fears and doubts. It snuffs out their creativity and resilience.
I’m not a stranger to waiting. When I have things that need to get done, like develop a new training course or write an article, waiting happens. I don’t have any ideas; therefore, I don’t know where to start. I begin to doubt my ability to create something meaningful or empowering and I feel stuck. I delay and wait for that brilliant idea to come to me and for belief in myself to magically appear. The problem is that when I wait to be inspired or to be struck by a burst of confidence, I feel hopeless and unmotivated.
Deadlines: A Cure for Inaction and Lack of Motivation
The good thing is that time is always ticking, and I’ve got deadlines to meet. Crunch time removes the luxury I had before of waiting. So having no choice, I take action and start. I put the first words on paper and I write. One sentence becomes two. The fluidity of my pen across the page unleashes my inhibitions and buried ideas. Before you know it, I’ve got a paragraph or two of incoherent, uninspired thoughts scrawled before me on the page.
But then something beautiful happens. An unexpected idea flits across my mind and I start writing about that. To give myself permission to follow this thought, I often transition by writing “What I really want to say is…” and then I allow the lightness of the idea to carry me along on its wings.
Before you know it, I’ve written a cogent story or article, completely surprising and delighting myself.
Those first few sentences I put down help to get my ego out of the way and open me up to receive the inspiration and flow that defies logic or reason. But without my first step, without having taken action, I would still be stuck in mounting frustration. My dampened spirits would block access to my source of inspiration, which eases my way.
But to get there, to that place of insight, it required taking action. Starting primed the pump of my creativity. It tapped the well of ideas and allowed them to surface, drip by drip, until they flowed.
This process can be a bit unnerving, I must admit, especially when I’ve taken a break from my daily writing practice. Then I feel a bit rusty and my inner critic chimes in with thoughts like what can you offer that people don’t already know? In times like these, what I want is an idea for a great story, but what I need to produce it is ACTION.