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How to take action no matter what

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“Take action! An inch of movement will move you closer to your goals than a mile of intention ” – Steve Maraboli

Photo by Michael Rosner-Hyman on Unsplash

This is the thing. The Big Kahuna. The one area of life that will make or break a dream. You can think all the motivating thoughts you want, generate all the feels, mentally prepare with the best of them, but if you don’t take action… nothing happens.

Action defined

If we tap the Google for a definition of action, this is what it says:

  1. the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.
  2. a thing done; an act.

Sounds pretty simple. It’s just doing something. Literally. Action is happening around us constantly. Action is happening inside us constantly. So when it comes to taking action to create something we want, why can it be so hard?

Putting on the brakes

Let’s take a little trip back in time. Ok, we’re going way back in time, to the dawn of the human brain. A brain that has a larger prefrontal cortex that allows the magical state of being we call “self-awareness.” Along with self awareness came creativity. Not only in our self-awareness did we realize that we could have some control over the things around us, we also realized we could do new, and perhaps better things with them. Thus, creativity and invention.

Yet with all this awareness and creative thought, we still have something to contend with; the animal or primitive brain hard at work under the layer of of our cortex. And guess what this brain is most concerned with? Eating, sleeping, finding shelter, and reproducing. To a primitive brain, that makes for a darn good life!

If our primitive brain can’t label an action as something that is going to help us survive and thrive, it immediately tries to put on the brakes. 

Anytime we consider taking action through self awareness, like chasing that dream, the primitive brain kicks in with reminders of anything and everything that could go wrong.

If this happens to you, congratulations! You have human brain in perfect working order.

Taking action

So how do you take action in spite of the conditioning of your primitive brain?

You harness the power of that sucker and start thinking intentionally. If you take the time to listen, and in this case I’d recommend putting pen to paper and taking notes, you’ll hear the running negative commentary your brain is tossing out:

“This will be too hard. I don’t know how to do this. I can’t do this. I’m a failure. I don’t know how to succeed at this. I don’t know how to run a business. I can’t even run a mile. I’ve tried this before and failed. I’m too tired. I’m too busy. Blah blah blah.”

Yeah yeah, we hear you brain. Guaranteed the most successful people on this planet have, and still hear, those words from their brain. So what’s the difference?

They take action in spite of them. And how do they do this? By just starting. Like the quote at the top of this article says: an inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.

All it takes is an inch. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “do the thing and you’ll get the energy to do the thing.”

You don’t take action because the primitive brain is creating thoughts (you saw the running commentary up there) that in turn create the emotions in your body that align with inaction or avoidance.

You don’t have to follow these instructions from your brain.

Your gift as a human being is that you don’t have to be completely beholden to your brain like other animals on this planet. You have self-awareness, the most powerful tool in your possession, and you can use it take action in spite of your brain.

So the lesson here? Just start.

I know there’s a running argument against this in your head. Ignore it.

Just start.