One of the big questions that I am often asked is? Why do people not follow through? Another way to ask this question is why do people procrastinate?
This is because there is a big difference between what we need to do, what we feel like doing and what we want to do? Let’s make this very practical in an everyday situation. Most people are very committed to being healthy, living a long and healthy life. But when there is a question around making the right food choices to support the value of being really healthy this all falls apart. So my question is why, when the average person walks into a supermarket and is confronted with making a decision between choices that will bring them closer to a healthy life and choices that would detract from health, they will often make choices which are destructive to them and their health. At a higher level this also answers the question to why we often end up wasting time on something that really doesn’t contribute to us, and avoid doing things that would take us forward.
So the big question is; what are the shifts that need to happen in order to get people to follow through and take action in their lives?
To bring this question even deeper we asked the questions:
- what happens to the person who is already grossly overweight and can’t stop themselves from grabbing another piece of chocolate cake,
- or the person that has just been diagnosed with cancer that feels the urge to go and have a cigarette right there and then. There are even some studies that show that up to 70% of people who get diagnosed with cancer, don’t stop smoking.
Yet there is also the other side of this equation and that relates to people who do follow through and who do take action towards their goals. What makes these people different? There is also another category of people, those who never followed through in their lives and then something happens and all of a sudden they start following through. That is the most interesting category.
The biggest reason why we find ourselves in this situation is very often because we think that whatever we are trying to achieve is not possible for us and so we don’t take action. In a sense, we believe that there is no point in taking action on something that we can’t achieve anyway. In a practical example we could have somebody at that believes that there are not able to manage their own emotions without comfort eating. This person therefore would be in no position to stop eating the proverbial chocolate cake because that idea just creates a life of pain and deprivation for them.
It is worth looking at the difference between high achievers and people who settle for an average life? My sense is that the high achievers often have a little bit more of a fear for missing out. It has become engulfed by that fear, but instead they act on the fear and the follow through. People who settle might do something that brings a certain level of comfort for a short while, and then they give up. So the next question is where to start for you to really start making a difference in your own life and for you to start following through a lot more.
The people who tend to have more breakthroughs in their lives are often those who often have hit rock bottom and found themselves with their back against the wall where they really had to do something radical to make a change in their lives. Many people who don’t take action and don’t follow through have real desires and real dreams that they would like to achieve, but there is nothing that drives them to go beyond a mere desire. This brings me to the question around how do you get from being in your comfort zone where you know you want more, to the point where you say to yourself “this is enough” and really having the energy and drive to make the shift in your life.
The thing to understand here is that which makes you angry and that which excites you is all relative. One person may be really motivated and driven by financial incentive whilst another person is driven by caring on the well-being of others.
What is it that you can do for yourself?
- The first thing that you can do is to decide for yourself that for a set period of time, let’s say for the next eight weeks, you can set aside a little bit of time every day where you going to find inspiration by reading something, by listening to something or immersing yourself in something that makes you feel different. Creating the success that you want to create is about following through on a little ritual every day. Where you make a little bits of progress, but you make progress every day. Because most people want to manifest that outcome instantly, they absolutely over estimate what can happen in one year and they completely underestimate what they can achieve in five years.
- The next thing that you need to do is to create a “why” that is strong enough. What does that mean? When you have to decide between the forces of pleasure and pain the equation becomes very simple. When you realise that when you look at following through on your goals or your activity your mind evaluates one thing and that is: ‘will it be more painful to take action or to avoid taking action?’ If avoiding action is what has the least amount of pain associated to it that’s what you’ll do. So if you are sitting in front of television with your packet of potato chips and yours decision is between sitting there and watching your favourite episode or getting up going out the house and engaging in some form of exercise. The average person is going to find the idea of going out for exercise to be a lot more painful than to relax in front of the television.
What is the Holy Grail between somebody taking action or not?
What is the one thing that needs to happen for somebody to take action as opposed to somebody knowing what to do and how to do it and simply not doing it? There is only one word that describes this and that is certainty. That means that the extent to which you believe that you’re going to get to the result that you’re looking for is the extent to which you will take action. So if there is a result you want, and you know with absolute certainty that you are able to successfully take the actions that will give you that result, then you will take action. If there is a question around maybe you can and maybe you can’t then that is where people really get stuck. The result that I’m talking about here is the end result. To illustrate this. Let’s discuss having a healthy, fit and vital body so that you’ve got all the energy you need to live your best life and achieve your goals. One of the things that you would have to do is to exercise. Now you know that you can perform the actions of putting on your running shoes and getting in your car, driving to the gym and finding the closest parking to the entrance of that you don’t have to walk too far. Then going into the gym and doing some exercises, taking a shower and going home. You absolutely know that’s you can take those actions.
What you’re not sure of is whether that is going to give you the healthy and fit body that you desire. So when you at the gym whilst working out your mind is thinking ‘maybe I’ll get my result and maybe won’t get my results.’ You’re thinking this all the time and that erodes your certainty. What naturally results from this is a state of uncertainty when you think about doing exercise. The next time that you’re considering exercise you become uncertain and if you become uncertain, you are less likely to take action.
Now, if that is true what is it that you would have to do to ensure that you become one of those people who do take action? This is the difference between understanding how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This all works in a cycle and the cycle looks a little bit like this:
The first thing that we need to consider is potential. That is the potential that you believe that you have because we all obviously, have unlimited potential. The potential to which you believe something is possible for you or not, is the probability to which you will take action. So if you really believe that you have the potential to do something you are likely to take action. The one thing that helps is when you’ve seen somebody else get the result that you want. If you’re able to vicariously experience it, then it becomes possible for you. This is also why visualisation is so important because if you can see yourself doing something in your mind’s eye, your mind becomes convinced that such an outcome is normal for you.
The next step is action, the potential that you believe that you have is the potential to which you are likely to take action. Like we said previously, the more certainty you have that you will get your outcome, the more likely you are to take action, and this also determines the quality of the action that you will take.
Okay so what is likely to happen next? The extent to which you are willing to take action and the quality of the action that you are willing to take will determine your results. The higher the quality of your action, the more consistent your results will be with the outcome.
Knowing what happens next is very interesting. The results that you achieve start feeding into your belief of how possible your achievement is. What will happen, practically, is the following: if you get a poor result because of low quality action and, of course, the low quality of action was because of a poor belief in potential, what happens is that the poor results become a self-fulfilling prophecy that strengthens the problematic belief in the first place. This is that we call it a vicious cycle. Because we believe our potential is less so we’ll take less action, get no results and then have an even weaker belief of what is possible for us and so this cycle continues.
This is why it’s important to cultivate the level of certainty and belief that you can and will be successful. Because if you really believe that you will be successful you will take significantly more effective action and that will end up in a result that is significantly better. This will in turn upgrade your belief and you’ll start believing that you have even more potential which results in even better action with the commensurate result. This is how we develop a virtuous cycle!
The big question here is how do you produce enough certainty when the world isn’t giving it to you?
It start as potential, we all know that we have infinite potential, but that doesn’t move the needle anywhere. Next is action. The amount of action that you take is unlikely to create the difference that can set you apart. The component that sets alight your virtuous cycle is if you see the result that you want to achieve, as if it has already happened; if you really believe that you have achieved that result, it’s going to escalate what you believe is possible for you and you’re going to take a high quality type of action which will give you amazing results.
This is one of the rich get richer and this is also why the poor get poorer. So if you’re not getting the results that you could be getting it’s because you intuitively believe that a particular result isn’t possible for you. There is one other way in which this can happen to you and that is when your back is against the wall and you have no other choice except being successful. When the proverbial gun is against your head you have to believe that you will be successful.
In conclusion, our potential is limitless and execution is absolutely everything but your potential and action becomes redundant when you don’t have the psychology. Today I’d like to urge you to visualise an outcome that you would like in your day; feel the feelings that’s you that would feel if you were absolutely successful . Visualise every step as being successful. Then give thanks as if you have already achieved that outcome, finally, and most importantly let it go.
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