Are you busy all the time? If so, are you productive? Americans are great at keeping busy, but we don’t necessarily move toward our goals. Why is that? We’ve been conditioned to value action of any kind over productivity. It’s as if we feel that we prove our worthiness by being busy, so we wear it like a badge of honor, even if we don’t achieve anything.
Have you ever noticed, however, that highly accomplished people generally don’t keep up a frenetic pace? High achievers are people of action, to be sure, but they take inspired action. They don’t have to stay busy for busy-ness’s sake. The make their efforts count, and then have time left over to enjoy the fruits of their labors.
We sometimes get it backwards and start moving before we know where we are going. This is a cultural and psychological habit, and it would benefit us to break it. With the high rate of burnout and stress-related illness, we need to stop pushing ourselves to accomplish things that we haven’t really thought through. This just brings about frustration and more stress.
How do you make sure that you’re taking inspired action instead of, well, just plain action? First, get comfortable with doing nothing. You read that right. We take inspired action by learning to do nothing. It’s addictive to stay active all the time. We easily fall into the trap of believing we’re getting things done just because we’re busy. I know many people who are constantly moving, but when you look at the list of accomplishments, there really is nothing of lasting value.
We must resist the temptation to be in constant motion and learn to be still. When we are still, we can listen for the “inspiration” part of “inspired action.” We allow ourselves to get very clear on what we want as an end result, and then get excited about the quickest, easiest, most productive way to get there. As paradoxical as it sounds, we have to teach ourselves to be able to do nothing before we can learn how to take inspired action.
Second, visualize the outcome. One of my favorite phrases is “When the vision is clear, the decisions are easy.” Know exactly what you want to accomplish before you take action. This sounds like a big “duh,” but so often, we start moving in a direction before we know where we want to go. We hope that we’ll figure it out along the way. Our true power lies in figuring it out before we begin, then picturing it into being.
It’s a widely-accepted and well-documented fact that our thoughts and imagination create our reality. The images we hold in our minds find their way into our experience, whether we want them or not. If we can imagine the inspired outcome with such detail that it is real to us in almost every way, we will be guided to make the perfect moves to get there.
Finally, feel the fun. This may be a new concept to many people, but living our lives is supposed to be fun. We are inspired to have goals and purposes that excite us. We’re taught that goals need to be worthwhile, help humanity, pay a lot of money, or increase the greater good, but we don’t culturally understand that our purpose is for us to feel fulfilled, personally. Our goals are supposed to ignite passion and enthusiasm.
When we don’t feel fulfilled by what we’re doing, we spend more time with unproductive action. Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to start a fun project, build a model airplane, make something out of clay, or sew a new shirt? It didn’t feel like work because you were so darn excited. That’s the way all action is supposed to feel! When we can’t wait to get started on something, we know it’s the right way to go.
Begin to break the habit of being busy for busyness’s’ sake. Learn to do nothing and wait for the inspiration, imagine what you really want, and then take the most fun route to get there. That’s how productivity happens!