I have a question for you …
Do you have goals?
I bet you do. In fact, whether you know it or not, your mind has a certain destination that it wants you to reach.
Your mind has some “needs” that it wants to fulfill, and you better work on figuring out those needs and start working toward fulfilling them.
Now I have another question for you …
Why many people, including you and me, seem to do nothing about their situation (at least for a certain period of time)?
In other words: why, even though we know what we want and what we need to do, we don’t take action?
I’m not talking only about procrastination; I’m talking about when we avoid doing our homework because of some complicated reasons that we don’t fully understand.
You know when you seem like you can’t get yourself to take action no matter what.
We want something very bad, we know that it’s good for us and we know what we need to do, but yet we never move a finger to get that thing!
Not taking action and lack of consistency will ensure you never achieve anything.
Because, eventually, you won’t get the results you want without working and doing something.
So we need to make sure that we don’t get stuck and sit there doing nothing, we need to get ourselves to take action, and to take them consistently.
You don’t want to be the kind of person who sets goals and after that does nothing to accomplish those goals.
You don’t want to become the kind of person who reads a book or an article but never puts the new knowledge into action.
I believe that reading and learning are useless if they didn’t lead us to action.
Now, how can we get ourselves to take action and never be held back by fear or whatever?
I’m going to show you the real reason for why we sometimes (or always!) never seem to take action even if our lives depend on that.
And no … it’s not what you’re thinking …
It’s not because you lack motivation, it’s not because you don’t have enough knowledge/resources, and it’s not because you suck!.
It’s not even about fear …
It’s deeper than that, but it’s even much simpler than you can ever imagine.
Once you understand it, you will be able to break free from the cycle of “not taking action”, whether it’s because of procrastination, fear, uncertainty, lack of motivation or lack of self-confidence.
Let’s get started.
The Nature of Us, Human Beings
In a nutshell, we as human beings don’t like pain, we hate it and we would do anything to avoid it.
And at the same time, we’re the kind of creatures who want instant gratification, especially these times where it’s so easy to get it.
Without self-control, you can imagine how we’re going to screw up and chase comfort all the time (and never grow as a result of that).
Here’s the thing: most people want to get instant pleasure, and they want to avoid pain as much as possible.
And while it’s our nature, it can backfire if we’re not careful enough.
For example if your strategy to deal with pain and discomfort is to avoid them all together, guess what? You will never get what you want.
If you’re seeking immediate pleasure to numb the pain, you’re only making things worse because pain will come back on you ten fold.
Why is that?
Simply because life is tough, whether you want to make a living or you want to get over shyness, you’re going to encounter some pain and discomfort.
And if you don’t really like that, if you’re not willing to go through some discomfort, you’ll suffer even more as we’re going to see.
But what does all this have to do with taking action or not?
In fact, this is the key point of the article, this is the real reason why people stop taking action and procrastinate.
They are not willing to go through the discomfort that comes naturally when you pursue something that you want.
They escape that discomfort by using immediate pleasure, and boy it’s very easy to get instant pleasure these days.
Internet, movies, porn, fast foods, Facebook, twitter, coffee, alcohol, drugs, T.V, football games …etc
Somehow those people believe that taking action is too painful, and what’s their strategy to deal with pain? Avoidance and escapement, that’s a recipe for a disaster.
For example if you want to overcome shyness, it’s not going to be easy, especially if you’re extremely shy.
You will have to talk to people, and that’s a nightmare for shy people.
You will have to face awkwardness, anxiety, fear, and basically put yourself in an environment that you consider dangerous or threatening.
That’s what we call “putting yourself outside your comfort zone”, and it’s painful, period.
And if your strategy to deal with discomfort is totally missed up, like most people, you’re going to avoid that hard work.
And sometimes this happens on the unconscious level, your mind is afraid of something, and it will do its best to make you avoid that thing, sure if you didn’t take charge of the situation.
For example you want to ask someone out, and because you’re afraid of rejection you simply don’t.
You admit you have feelings for that person, but you’re afraid of his/her reaction, and as a result you remain in the “inaction zone”.
Another perfect example: you’re working on an important project, but deep within you don’t believe that you have what it takes or you don’t feel like you deserve working on such a big thing.
In other words you don’t really think that you can get the job done, for whatever reason, and you’re afraid of failure and looking bad.
So you start sabotaging your process by procrastinating and not taking action.
One last example to make things clearer: working out at the gym requires a lot of focus, and if you skip workouts only because you don’t feel like it, you will miss up your progress.
It takes courage to push through that mental pressure and go to the gym despite of your feelings.
And if you’re out of shape, there’s another level of mental pressure, because you’re putting yourself in a place where people would judge you based on your fitness level.
If you’re out of shape (skinny or fat) you know the feeling of dragging yourself to the gym after weeks and weeks of no apparent progress to show for.
And who wants to do that? Why go through all this pain and discomfort?
Pain Is The Ultimate Motivator or The Worst Enemy …
… depending on how you use it.
If you didn’t already tell, the reason why people put off the important things they’re supposed to do is pain.
We don’t want to experience pain.
Whether that pain is fear of rejection, fear of being judged or just the unpleasant feelings of working so hard and not seeing any result.
It’s believed that fear is the reason why people don’t take action and remain stuck.
But actually, fear is just a pain and an unpleasant emotion that we don’t want to experience.
Pain can come in many forms, including fear, anxiety, having to keep going even when it seems like there’s no hope, putting your skills under test …etc.
Pain and discomfort are the reason why we don’t take action, because we want to avoid them, period.
How To Break Free and Get Yourself to Take Action?
Short answer: get a better strategy for dealing with pain and discomfort.
Long answer: you need to deal with pain much more effectively, how to do that? Let me show you.
How do you cut iron? How do you make a hole through a piece of iron?
Simply by using iron its self, by using another piece of iron that’s made specifically to cut the first piece of iron.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to do with pain.
We need another pain to crack the pain that paralyzes us, we need to find a greater pain than the first one.
Because it’s our nature to avoid the most painful situations, and as soon as we realize that it’s much more painful not to take those action, we can move mountains to avoid that pain.
In other words: if you think that going to the gym is painful (embarrassment, disappointment …etc), you need to realize that staying out of shape is more painful.
If you fear social interactions and shy around people and that’s why you can’t become a social person, you need to realize that being shy and timid is something that you don’t want anymore.
If you want to start something but afraid that you might fail, you need to realize that you’re going to fail as long as you don’t even start and try it, isn’t failure that you don’t want? Well, you’re heading right into it by not taking action.
And so on. The point is that you have a certain amount of pain you’re trying to avoid; you just have to find a greater amount of pain on the opposite direction.
If you’re afraid of giving a presentation, and you have the option of not giving it, then most probably you will avoid it.
But if your boss came and told that if you didn’t give this presentation, you’re going to lose your job.
Well, if you do care about your job and you’re depended on its salary to pay the bills, you’re going to do it, not because you’re not afraid, but because you have to.
And this is important, fear and uncertainty will always be there, but we just know that we either face this fear now, or face the unbearable consequences of not facing it later on.
Putting This Into Action
Whenever you find yourself in a position where you can’t take action, you need to realize that it’s about pain.
There’s a certain amount of pain/discomfort that you don’t want to experience.
You need to turn the table around and find a greater amount of pain that will push you to take action.
That means you need to get leverage on yourself.
If the pain you’re trying to avoid is 6.5 on a scale from 0 to 10, you need to make the pain of staying the same and not doing something 8 or even 9.
How to do that? It’s different for everyone, you know yourself more than anybody else, what makes you tick?
And because we’re motivated by pain, we’ll do anything to avoid the greater pain.