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Stop thinking, Start doing

For the past few months I have been doing a lot of thinking.

A lot.

Too much.

I have been so preoccupied with thinking about my plans and what I want to do with my life that I have missed out on taking the action required towards actualising my dreams. I tend to get stuck in loops of thinking about my work → overthinking about my work → being too overwhelmed to do any work → back to the drawing board to think about work.

I research endlessly.

'Maybe I just haven't found the right inspiration yet?'

I start planning a piece of writing to second guess it half an hour in.

'Who would want to read about this anyway?'

I question my own voice and abilities.

'You really don't know enough to be talking about this.'

It is painful. It is endless. And it is fuelled by lack of action.

Our brains are feedback machines. They learn from our environment and experiences and take appropriate action based on said feedback. When not doing anything, this can lead to feeling demotivated. Demotivation acts as a real hurdle to overcome - especially if your work isn't on a tight deadline. Giving into this apathy (which I do all the time) means continuing to not do anything and feeling even more demotivated. It is a viscous cycle which leads to not only a lack of output, but worse, a loss of confidence.

My mind likes to convince me the way out of this cycle is to plan, plan, plan. Think of new ideas, research some more, watch videos to get inspiration. But this is not the way out. While a short session to come up with fresh ideas can be beneficial, if you find yourself spending weeks planning with nothing to show for it, the inaction-demotivation cycle is perpetuated as your brain still isn't getting that much needed feedback to set the ball rolling.

I have found the route out of this slump is to do the thing I am dreading - to start "doing". The antithesis of the inaction-demotivation cycle also exists, meaning by taking action, motivation will follow. By acting on this motivation and taking more action, more motivation will come. Many people - myself included - often wait for motivation to arrive, to knock at the door, as a call to take action. But unless it is a new year or you've just be on the receiving end of an amazing pep talk, this is rarely the case. The motivation many of us desire to drive us towards our goals comes on the other side of taking the action we are resisting. When we push through this resistance and take the dreaded step, we normally find it is not so bad. In fact, we are pretty proud of ourselves. And that can spark confidence and provide motivation to act again.

This weekend I have been saying to myself "stop thinking, start doing" and have managed to move some of my projects along with a lot less mental drama than is normally present when I work. If you are finding it hard to break out of the thinking stage of a project, take the smallest action you can think of. If that is writing a book, write one sentence. If that is trying to exercise, do 5 push ups. If that is wanting to give more time to your friends, send one text. The smallest step in the right direction towards your goals can be the strongest one you take.

Your "doing" will do great things for you.

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