7 Steps to Break the Cycle of Inaction

| | Inspiration
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Have you ever had a really great idea, something you just knew you should do, yet somehow you did not act on it?

Perhaps you even wrote it down while sincerely thinking to yourself, “I am going to do this.” It may have been sparked while you were in a meeting, attending a seminar, reading a book or article, or during great conversation with a colleague or coach. At the time you were excited by having had one of those “aha” moments, or the feeling that you just had a spark of brilliance.

Then, somehow, what seemed so significant in that moment faded away. Perhaps it got buried in a mountain of paperwork and was forgotten until you come across it while clearing your desk months later. The idea may even continue to cross your mind once in a while. Only now, instead of excitement, that same idea evokes irritation because you let the idea and the inspiration to do it fade away.

I’d venture to say it happens to all of us on occasion. If you are a bit of an “idea junkie,” it probably happens more often than you would like to admit. The crazy thing is, letting a great idea fall by the wayside seems to happen even more often when you are feeling stuck. It can be embarrassing and even cost your self-confidence when you know what to do, but can’t seem to figure out why you are not doing it.

You may have heard of Law of Motion, which is:

An object in motion stays in motion, and an object at rest stays at rest, unless acted upon by an outside force.

This law can also be applied to our progress in any endeavor. When you are caught in a cycle of inaction, the tendency is to remain “at rest.” It takes a lot more energy to take that first action to get moving again than it does to continue a consistent course of action. On the other hand, once you are in action, with each action you take toward your goals, you gain momentum.

Breaking through the inertia of inaction and finally getting into action requires 2 things: choosing you will break through now, no matter what, and significantly narrowing your focus.

Are you ready to choose to break through now, or help someone else make that choice and get into action?

Here are 7 simple steps to break through the cycle of inaction, and put the Law of Motion to work in your favor.

1. Narrow your focus to one very specific big goal that you have.

This doesn’t mean scrap all of your other goals. Yet the more you narrow your focus, the easier it will be to choose something to start taking action on. Clarity and simplicity are critical.

2. List the first 5 ideas that come to mind – the things you have already been thinking about doing that could help you achieve that goal.

Stick to the ones you can remember. Do not turn this into a month-long research project to sift through all of your notes. Chances are there are one or two things you have been thinking about doing for a while. There is no time like the present to get started.

3. Choose ONE idea and set a date BY WHEN you will have completed implementing that idea.

Do not worry about choosing the “right “ idea or even the right due date. Anything you choose will be perfect. Just make sure you choose something specific.

4. List the first 3 things you must do to execute that idea.

Planning can create the illusion of action. It can also create a sense of overwhelm. If it’s a really big idea, you will likely need to do more planning. However, the point of this step is to identify enough to get you started, not create a complete project plan.

5. Write your big goal (step 1), the idea you are implementing by when (step 3), and the first 3 things you must do to execute the idea (step 4) neatly on a clean sheet of paper.

Do not skip this step. This is an important part of the process of ensuring you follow through.

6. Tell someone you can count on what you are doing and by when, and why it is so important for you to do this and actually follow through on it.

Give them a copy of your one page summary from step 5 and ask them to relentlessly hold you accountable.

7. Get started with the first step NOW.

Don’t pat yourself on the back that you did steps 1-6. Get into action by taking at least the first step right away. DO NOT WAIT!

Keep that one page in front of you every day until you are done. After you complete the first 3 tasks, add the next 3 and do them.

It takes 21 days to instill a new habit. Do this for 21 days so the habit of action has a chance to stick. Keep going until you are done and the Law of Motion will fuel whatever is next.

Choose to put the Law of Motion to work in your favor! tweet this

Ready. Set. GO!


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Enter A Comment

Anon   |   23 October 2015   |   Reply

…unless acted upon by an outside force.

Thanks for the “pep talk”. It is always more satifying to move forward on your own than to wait for your boss to motivate you into action.

Don   |   23 October 2015   |   Reply

To be fully aware of my actions and how they impact our marriage.
Five Things:
1. Change my posture – stand up straight when walking and sitting. Exercise my shoulders regularly while sitting, walking or just standing. GO TO THE GYM MORE THAN 2 TIMES A WEEK. Use City Council time to come in an hour late.
2. Be aware of Kathy’s needs and stresses and find ways to help ease, even if that means just giving her space.
3. Don’t react as though you’ve been accused of committing a crime when Kathy corrects me, suggests something to me, or reacts to me doing something that is annoying to her.
4. Keep a list of things that need doing/fixing around the house – short term and long term.
5. Check Kathy’s schedule daily to be sure I know how her day/week will be and what I can do to make it a better day for her.
6. Check the lights before leaving the house!
7. Find out the night before what needs to be done the next day.
8. Communicate with Kathy what’s going on in my life, my schedule, etc.

Elizabeth J   |   24 October 2015   |   Reply

I’ve been thinking about the principle of inertia lately too, namely with regards to my plethora of writing projects. I have ideas galore, but don’t always take the steps necessary to work on them. And so they stay in the idea stage… perhaps indefinitely. Thanks for the push to break that cycle. I’ll be working on brainstorming these steps this weekend!

Susan Mazza   |   05 November 2015   |   Reply

Hope your brainstorming went well Elizabeth and that you have moved into action on what matters most!

Roberto Daniel   |   24 October 2015   |   Reply

Fantastic article , Susan ! Thks for sharing.

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    […] around us! Leading Voice Susan Mazza has a captivating (and motivational) take on energy in 7 Steps to Break the Cycle of Inaction. She shares, “once you are in action, with each action you take toward your goals, you gain […]