One of the most successful individuals of all time is Walt Disney. Disney reached incredible levels of success. Any advice on how to succeed from him should be cherished. One of his quotes speaks to the importance of moving past the mental aspects to action to succeed.
He said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Too many times we keep thinking and talking through our goals. Instead we need to learn to start taking action.
Years ago, I worked at the second largest chamber of commerce in the country. I was tasked with understanding the local startup community and building out resources for early stage businesses.
I was able to get acquainted with many of the startups in town. There were many different types of startups.
Some were founded by individuals working for a big company who decided that they could strike out and do it on their own. Some were tech startups committed to finding venture investments. They expected growth to come quick and at extreme levels. Some were individuals looking to live out a dream and make a living from a hobby.
One consistent theme that I ran into was that many were too focused on the plan. They would spend years forming and adjusting their business plan. Normally this is doing due diligence. However, more often than not, there was no action being taken.
It amounted to procrastination. They feared that their idea wasn’t viable and didn’t want to test the market by trying to sell a product. They didn’t take action steps towards the realization of the business. They stayed in startup mode hoping that they could skip those early days of struggle.
But I noticed a trend with the successful ones. The ones that seemed to find success all seemed to move beyond the planning stages relatively quickly. They would test the market.
This allowed them to adjust and make changes. Most would realize flaws in their thinking about the market. Or they would learn how to better design the product. They would adjust and take more action.
It seemed like every time I checked in with these individuals, they were doing something. With the other individuals, when I checked in, they always seemed to have another plan. The new plan reflected feedback about their previous plan. But the feedback came from other people's opinions not from learning from trial and error.
I am a strong believer in planning and thinking through something before jumping in. It is crucial that we plan before we act.
But that doesn’t mean that more thinking or more planning is always the answer. Many times, the answer is to quit talking and start doing.
The systems and habits approach capitalizes on this by adding behavior changes to your life. It doesn’t mean you can’t change and adjust the plan as you learn and grow. But it goes from dreaming, talking and planning and moves it to doing.
I am very aware of how much I am planning. I am the type to overthink and over plan. So, I watch for this and make sure I get to action as soon as I can. But if you are the type to act without thinking, then start to take the necessary planning steps. This will make sure you prepare and do your due diligence before jumping in.
By knowing yourself you can efficiently move from talking to doing. If you get that right, you can adjust and change. You won’t be too locked into one plan because you invested too much time. You will be able to see the flaws in the plan as you act it out and then make changes to help you reach your goals. You will be able to quit talking and begin doing.
You Have a Choice Even if you do Not Like the Options
I am a big believer in taking 100% responsibility for our lives. There are great advantages to holding this mindset through life.
It helps gain control of our emotions. It keeps us feeling in control of our life. It gives us a path forward during any difficulty that arises.
It makes sure we don’t give away our power in life. We all have the ability to control our own thoughts and actions. We all have the ability to make decisions throughout our life that impact the direction of our life.
While the benefits are enormous, the consequences of doing this are minimal. If we take 100% responsibility and it turns out that external factors made the difference in success or failure, we didn’t lose anything. Those factors would hurt us either way. At least when we take responsibility, we choose our response to those factors.
But this isn’t normal. In fact, most people do the exact opposite. Instead of taking responsibility, they come up with reasons why things are not their fault. They say that others are the reason for their suffering and unhappiness.
Instead of taking control and working to improve, they hold a complacent attitude. They think, “what difference does it make if I am going to fail anyways.”
One of the biggest hurdles if you want to change your attitude to being responsible for your life is to realize that you have choices. These are presented to you on an ongoing basis. Whether you realize it or not YOU are the one making the decisions.
The reason this is an obstacle is because those options are not typically good ones. We don’t have the option of some easy, simple, successful choice versus one that is an obvious failure. Instead, everything looks similar. And most of the time, they all look bad.
In Set Yourself Free by Reon Schutte, the author recounts lessons he learned while being imprisoned in one of the worst African prisons in the world as a POW. He was starved and beaten on a daily basis. Prisoners frequently died from the poor conditions. From this experience he started to gain a new perspective on life.
He says, “The way you most often imprison yourself is by believing you have no choice.” He goes on to say, “What I’ve learned is that there is always a choice; the disconnect is, you may not like the options, so you say there is no choice.”
But having a choice between bad options is still having control. You still have the ability to choose your path forward. You may have to choose the best of a bunch of bad choices, but you still choose. And you choose how you proceed.
We all have control in our life but too often we give it away. We imprison ourselves because we don’t feel the options are fair. We want better options. But those usually only come after making other decisions.
We may want a better job. But we don’t want to go back to school. So, we say we don’t have an option and have to feed our family. We may even half-ass our approach to work because we don’t think it is fair. But that limits our chances of getting promoted.
We may hear a doctor tell us that our health has deteriorated, and we should stop all unhealthy eating. We don’t feel it is fair. But we still have choices. We can ignore his advice and eat whatever we want and face the consequences. We can start to change our eating habits. And, the choices we made to that point are the reason why we are getting this advice in the first place. In other words, WE are the ones responsible here. We can take control. We can decide, even though we don’t like the options.
To gain control in your life, start to learn to see the choices you have. Understand that the choices usually start as a bunch of bad options. But if you continue to make choices that improve your future you will soon have better options. But work through those early decisions to slowly start yourself on the path of improvement.