Note: This is a guest post from J.D. Meier of Sources of Insight
Thinking is great. But action makes things happen. One of the biggest differences with people that successfully grow, expand themselves, and reach their goals, is that they consistently take action.
Action takes energy though, so where does that energy come from? It comes from within. Inspiration is a powerful force, and inspired action is one of the most powerful ways to motivate yourself. It beats “carrots and sticks.” Carrots and sticks are usually external forms of motivation. Instead, if you inspire yourself, you light your fire from the inside out.
Here are seven ways to light the fire and inspire yourself to take action:
1. Be decisive. Decide. Make a decision and “go.” If you waffle back and forth on things, or can’t make up your mind, you spend a lot of energy in analysis paralysis. Instead, decide on something you want, and test it. Take action and test your results. The act of making a decision and taking action will build momentum, and fuel your fire and fan your flames. Rather than trying to figure everything out up front, start taking action, test your path, and learn and adapt along the way.
2. Act like you mean it. Maybe you want to get in great shape, but are you acting like you mean it? How many hours are you putting in each week? What routines are you trying? Maybe you want to be a rockstar at work. Who are your mentors and models? What bold actions are you taking that walk the talk? If you act like you mean it, you’ll make better choices, show more confidence, and build energy that helps you spiral up.
3. Draw from inspirational words of wisdom. Quotes are your friend. Whenever you need to summon your inner-strength, it helps if you have little one-liner reminders that keep you going. One of my favorites is by Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
4. Stand on the “shoulders of giants.” Find some role models and heroes to use to lift your spirits and paint a canvas of possibility. Just having some examples under your belt can inspire you to new levels. For example, for me, I always look to the amazing physical and philosophical accomplishments of Bruce Lee. Chances are, no matter what problem or challenge you’re up against, somebody’s been there and done that. If not exactly, then at least you can draw from similar experiences.
5. Play the favorite scenes in your mind. We all have favorite scenes from movies over the years. It’s those scenes of triumph, or courage, or an incredible move that inspires us. Have these at your mental fingertips and draw from them. Continue to fill and expand your collection by paying attention to the scenes that move you. You can also draw from scenes in real life. We all have our shining moments. Keep those close, and think of them as flash cards to whip out when you need it most. Simply see the scene in your mind, remember the feeling, and use that to fire you up.
6. Shift to the future. Dwelling on the past is a quick way to bring yourself down. To lift yourself up, switch to the future and envision the possibilities. See what’s possible. This is where hope springs from. By having a compelling vision, you have something to shoot for. Now instead of having to “push” yourself to something, you will literally be “pulled” by it. Like a magnet. The more compelling the vision, the stronger the “pull” will be. A few simple ways to shift to the future are … “How can I solve this?” … or “What would good look like?” … or “What’s the end in mind?” Questions are a powerful way to shift gears.
7. Connect to your values. You can connect everything you do to your values. This is a powerful way to inspire yourself with skill. For example, let’s say you value “continuous learning” or “growth”. Whenever you take on a task, ask yourself, “What can I learn from this?” or “How can I improve this?” Simply by connecting to your values, you tap into your inner source of power. Your values fuel you and get you jazzed. For example, one of my values is, “adventure”, so at work, I turn every project into an “epic adventure” and make it about the journey. There’s always a big villain or challenge to conquer, and an epic win to shoot for. And plenty of “growth” along the way.
These are proven practices for inspiring yourself with skill. Now the question of course is, what are you going to do with all your inspiration?
J.D. Meier is a Principal Program Manager on the Microsoft Enterprise Strategy team. He shares proven practices for personal excellence at Sources of Insight.com (http://SourcesOfInsight.com.) He’s the author of eight technical books, and his first non-technical book is Getting Results the Agile Way, which you can read for free at Getting Results.com (http://GettingResults.com.)
Photo by AGeekMom
Being decisive is one of my major ones in my household. We’ve learned that hesitation and anxiety about decisions only makes it twice as difficult. Rather than just coming up with a decision and seeing it through to the end.
It’s like that line in Tom Petty’s song, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
Great post Donald.
The paralysis of analysis is indeed a deadly one! One that I know far too much about. I used to wait for others to take action before I did. It turned out that wasn’t a very good way to live, and I didn’t get very good results.
Understanding deeply that no one (typically) has any more of a clue or secret insight into what it means to be human – and that were basically all the same – has instilled in me the confidence to be able to take action, be decisive, and generally just do stuff when I want to.
I think this is the most important aspect of inspired action, as you mentioned here.
It sounds like you found your confidence from the inside out, and that’s a great place to work from.
The beauty is how confidence helps us expand our capabilities to take on new challenges.
Taking action is the one fundamental step that many fail to take. A lot of folks read personal growth books, audio programs and attend workshops yet they still fail to take action.
It’s so true, and I’ve been guilty of that too.
I found that the key was to chunk down the action into small wins, and use each one as a stepping stone. Now I find it very easy to quickly act on what I learn.
Love this post. Some of the points are so simple, yet so true!,
We get stuck , waste time…..why?..
Thank you!, I have passed this o as well
Have a wonderful weekend !,
This is my first comment on your site. You’ve got a nice blog here, and this article by JD is a great one!
I absolutely agree that action makes things happen. Like I always say, action is the master key to success. All 7 points you mentioned are worth memorizing!
@ Saydie — Thank you. I’m a fan of simple truths that work when applied.
You have a wonderful weekend too, and thanks for sharing.
Superb collection””each-&-every piece of guidance. “Shift to the future” is the one which really resonated for me. It’s often easy to ruminate when the more appropriate, constructive frame is to focus forward.
I enjoy your site, Donald””you have a new subscriber. J.D. & Donald, thanks to you both.
Another Churchill quote I like is:
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”
@ Jimmy — Thank you. I use shift to the future often, as a source of hope and inspiration, and as a way of playing out possibilities. It’s the space of opportunity, and I like the inherent freedom that brings.
@ Alex — Churchill has a way with words.
Donald – I’ve been following your blog for a while, love it, great articles.
JD – Excellent post, thank you. For me, nothing inspires me to action more than connecting to my values. To find an element in a project that makes it meaningful for me personally will give me the juice and get me going.
Thanks for the kind words, Amyra.
Nice post. That is one of my favorite quote to by Winston Churchill, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Superb article- life is about expanding and progressing though it. To many times our own self images stops us from reaching a higher level of success. You truly give some valuable life lessons on how to grow.
Good stuff, here, JD!
I especially appreciated the idea that we can connect anything to our values to motivate consistent effort. That is so true. Not only does this inspire the kind of dedication success requires, it helps to reinforce our highest values as well.
“just do it” – as says one of dress makers 🙂
so just start doing it and create 1st small results
Great post 🙂
I’d like to share a few thoughts.
Indeed, carrots don’t work to motivate people. Here is a great talk by Dan Pink: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/dan_pink_on_motivation.html
I find that sticks, in the form of consequences to accountability, works very well. I first learned about this from Eben Pagan, who talks a lot about Inevitability Thinking and Accountability. The more you are accountable to other people, the more likely you are to do exactly what you set out to do. And you need to have negative consequences to make it work, so that it makes it literally inevitable for you to do it, to avoid the much more painful consequences.
He gives the example of how he does his seminars. He first sets a date and tells everyone. He then has no choice but to make it happen, or his reputation will greatly be harmed.
On another note, I fully agree with role modelling. I love what Tony Robbins says about this… and I’ve been role modelling my business coach for some time now, especially about how he runs his business, builds an online community, etc.
Great post! 🙂
Have an awesome day,
Nice tips ..really helpful in inspiring myself..thanks for sharing..
this is a good blog , i have spent my life planning how to achieve certain things , i never took action on a single project that i wanted to do.i think the ingridients is to decide what you want to do and take action.
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