Have you ever had a really good idea? Did you make that idea reality? If not, why not? I spend my professional and personal life confronted with unrealised dreams and ideas. I’ve sat in meetings where the same stuff that’s been talked about for years is discussed. There’s a sense of frustration that there’s been a lot of talk but no action and a commitment that this time will be different, tinged with resignation that something might get in the way. I’ve worked with coachees who know what the issue is and what they need to do to solve it but just haven’t taken action. I, personally, have looked at the same household task at least twice a day, and thought, “I need to do that”, but the task remains undone. Why is it that taking action can be such a challenge?
Because, that’s the thing. No matter how good the idea, how painful the status quo, how fired up and committed you are, until you actually take action nothing will change. You need to move your foot and take a step before you can walk – just the thought of walking isn’t enough.
Where to start – Sometimes it can be difficult to work out where to start. What is the first action? I’ve had this on a small scale recently. I spoke in an earlier blog about the declutter I had at Easter. Confession time; I didn’t quite finish the job. I still had a cluttered and unusable desk and a pile of stuff to sell. It meant that my office/spare bedroom still wasn’t clear. I kept looking at it and thinking that everything on the desk needed to be on the desk (it didn’t), I had nowhere to put it (I did) and that I didn’t know where to start. Then, a colleague of mine, virtual assistant Laura Fellows, posted some fantastic tips on office decluttering. Day one was about clearing your work space with the excellent suggestion of putting everything in a box and replacing it as you used it. I could do that; it was manageable; and the strange thing is that once it was in a box it seemed less threatening and I sorted it out straight away and now have a clear work area. Taking that action of clearing the space even if I didn’t sort the stuff, helped. It was all I needed to kick start me. Sometimes you just need to do something, anything. If it’s the wrong thing you can sort that out later but you need to start moving.
Getting everyone on board is too difficult – I get this! Believe me, I’ve worked in and with the NHS; I really get this! Just when you think everyone is signed up to the plan, someone throws a spanner in the works and everything grinds to a halt. Some thorny issue, partisan interest, or reasonable, but complex, objection is raised and suddenly, everything is on the back burner. Or, even getting to the point of everyone signing up is too difficult. This is a judgement call, as you know your situation best, but sometimes you still need to take action, because until you do, you’re not going to get a reaction and you’ll remain in no man’s land doing nothing. Taking a small, but definite, action (even if this is just moving to a more formal engagement on the plan for action), will flush out who’s in, who’s out and why.
The new is scarier than the now – It doesn’t matter how horrible what you have now is, the new is unknown territory. Whilst it might be exciting and wonderful, that newness and uncertainty can be terrifying. It’s like opening a windowless door; you think you know what’s on the other side, but you can’t be sure. Your current situation could be terrible but fear of what lies ahead, the journey and the destination can keep you rooted where you are. One of the tactics you might want to try is to really assess the cost of you staying where you are, and make sure it’s the whole cost – emotional, social, financial, physical, short and long term. At some point you’ll work out whether you can ‘afford’ to stay where you are and whether the fear outweighs the pain incurred through inaction.
It’s just who you are – Now I know this sounds fatalistic but bear with me. I can’t recall if I’ve mentioned The Four Tendencies (Gretchen Rubin) in earlier blogs. I discovered them earlier this year and am absolutely transformed as a result. A short quiz assesses how you react to internal and external expectations and this in turn tells you what your tendency is – obliger, upholder, questioner or rebel. It also lets you know how best to make sure that you do things depending on your tendency. I, not surprisingly, am an obliger and meet outer expectations but struggle to meet expectations I impose on myself; so, I now think about who or what is going to hold me accountable for delivering inner expectations and it’s working. My team at work has taken the quiz and we’ve shared results and it’s certainly given me insight into everyone, why they do what they do and how to get the best from them in a way that makes them happier. If you fancy trying it here’s the link https://tinyurl.com/ybevvydz
Whatever is stopping you taking action, and the list above is not exhaustive, you need to take action. If not, you’ll stay where you are and, commercially, professionally and personally, staying still is not healthy. Even if you’re content with where you are, you still need to grow and learn and to do that, you need to take action. So, today, don’t just have that thought about starting to walk. Let the thought travel to your foot, make your toes wiggle, then let your heel lift and who knows, you might just take a step.
About Steph Edusei, A New View
I coach women in middle to senior leadership roles who are too busy with competing demands at work and home, trying to do it all and focusing on everyone but themselves.
They feel like they are constantly battling, fear they are not good enough and that they are going to be caught out. They are always busy and never have enough time to do what they need.
With compassion, honesty and a sprinkling of humour, I support them to take back control and step into being a high value leader who is competent and confident, by focusing on the things that really make a difference to create a high-quality life.
For a free 30-minute introductory session (value £87.50) book now