How to break the habit of inaction

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

You know that stare? Well, you actually only realize it in hindsight.

When you find yourself gazing out the window, or at the small corner of the wall, or up at the ceiling. You’re so fixated on that one space, as if it were reeling you in, looking to talk to you or maybe even advise you. Once your consciousness comes back, you realize that you were lost in a moment. An imaginative glimmer in time.

Something has preoccupied you. Perhaps good, perhaps bad. But it’s preventing you from action.

Whatever past idea, struggle, thought, inspiration, missed chance, fear, anxiety or stress that has you captured, know that you may have to modify your process. In order to modify your process, you must begin with changing your habit. As the saying goes, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Take writing, for example. Every writer knows what writer’s block is all about. We feel completely stuck, unable to even commit the action to hitting the keys on our laptop. It’s like we’re physically and mentally frozen. But in order to get to modifying the process, we first must change our habit. We must try something new when what we’ve trusted is not working.

In order to break one habit, we often have to break another, or at least course-correct our process. The familiar advice of “the conditions are never going to be right to begin — just go for it” rings true here. When you’re really stuck, forget about whatever process you’ve been following. It may not work that day or that hour.

If you’re normally a very fluid, creative writer that can pump out 1,000 words in the span of 15 minutes, perhaps you’re best positioned to just start writing your ideas and thoughts down in bullet point bursts. I like to refer back to a notepad or journal of ideas or unfinished thoughts that were meant to receive new life at a future date.

If you’re launching a new app or digital marketing platform and your “golden idea” has yet to take off, it doesn’t meant that your idea is bad or wrong. But it may mean that you need to change your habit of approaching your business. You may need to course-correct and try a new marketing strategy. You may have a great product, but you’re unsure of the most effective way to sell.

Try a new approach

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dismiss the notion that you will focus your time and energy on anything else for a set period of time. Stay focused on the task at hand. This steeling your mind to be more productive will develop consistency and a commitment to do what you said you would do. Modify your habit. Modify when you choose to work on what you’re doing. If necessary, focus on the how.

Re-calibrate your why to make sure this is crystal clear and filled with purpose that aligns with your mission and definition for success. Your business plan. Your whole reason for doing what you’re doing. Start with the fundamentals which will guide you and let you know about your habits and decision-making.

Whatever fear or anxiety that you feel when you’re unable to move forward, think clearly, execute or even plan is far worse when it’s prolonged. By taking action, you block out that which holds you back. You press forward. To move forward, you don’t move backwards. But, you do use your past experiences and perspective of lessons learned to educate you on how to improve and commit today.

Turn to reminders of great work you’ve done, compliments you’ve received and honors bestowed upon you in the past. This boosted assurance and rush of adrenaline will always reboot confidence and hope. Confidence and hope are essential to taking action and finishing what you’ve started.

Don’t make someone else’s problem your own. Absorbing someone else’s guilt, getting hung up on their issues or problems is mentally taxing and defeating. This sorrow deflates us and contributes to inertia. If you want to remain inert, then focus on other people’s problems. Misery loves company.

If you’re ready to take action, be willing to do the work of understand the root cause of your inaction. Get back to the fundamentals. Use your energy to focus on the habits, processes and execution of what makes you great. Get started and leave the worry behind.

Get started

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This article first appeared on Medium.