The most common and powerful advice dished out by every expert on this planet is one word: Action.
At the heart of almost all business and personal development education is the concept that in order to realize a goal you have to do something – sometimes anything will do – to get a result.
It may seem obvious, and intuitively you understand why action works, yet it’s common advice because most people fail to do it.
I regularly refer to taking action in the articles here on my blog and also in the blog training materials I produce for my newsletter and mentoring program. I read similar advice on other blogs and in books I read on business and self improvement.
There is one tip you hear more often than any other at the end of podcast interviews or speaking presentations from experts. It goes along the lines of “do something if you want results” – yes, more take action advice.
In many ways if you really want the true “Secret” to success in life, it is taking action.
Why People Fail
It’s easy to look at the lack of results that the majority of people experience (or don’t experience) as a result of not taking action. People buy products and don’t use them, study courses and don’t implement what they learn and even go as far as spending thousands of dollars on university degrees and never use the skills and knowledge they spent so much money to acquire.
I’ve been thinking about this behaviour pattern a lot lately. I believe if you really analyze why people fail it’s not because they failed to take action, it’s because they wake up each day and choose to do the wrong actions for their given goals.
Take this a step deeper and it’s not actually wrong actions – there really is no such thing as a “wrong” action – it’s that most people take actions totally incongruent with what they really want.
Dig a little deeper still and you finally hit the real reason why people are unhappy and fail to achieve goals – they don’t really know what they want.
Goals Vs Outcomes
Don’t be confused between goals and outcomes. If you want to generate a certain amount of money from a small business or to lose weight or find a life partner then you need to set goals that result in those outcomes.
For example, if you want to lose weight then a daily goal might be exercise – go for a 30min swim today. If you want to find a partner you might take action by committing to talk to three strangers today. If you want more money, research a topic for a new blog could be today’s goal.
It’s through goals, some of which are daily tasks that take you closer to longer term goals, which result in the outcomes you want to achieve.
Lack of Vision
Vision is such an important part of goal attainment, yet most people have no strong sense of what they want to achieve. With a clear vision the steps necessary to reach your vision are clearer and your actions are congruent with your real goals.
Congruency is vital because without it your motivation wanes. When you do things that you don’t enjoy or don’t result in what you really want, you won’t do them for long enough or do them with enough energy to really reap rewards. When you take actions that are congruent with your vision it’s much easier to do them day after day and enjoy every step of the way (the little victories I wrote about previously).
What Did You Do Today?
If you look back over yesterday or today, if it was a working day, chances are you got up, ate breakfast traveled to work by bus, train or car, sat through a long day of meetings, procrastination, lunch, idle chatter, web surfing, email checking and perhaps 1-2 hours of actual work. Then you got back on the train, bus, car, returned home, maybe watched some TV, had some dinner, gossiped on the phone or on instant messenger and went to bed.
Most people experience a variation of the above sequence throughout the majority of their working life, and feel quite miserable a lot of the time too. That’s sad.
All the above activities are actions that lead to outcomes, yet besides the pay cheque at the end of the month, they are not likely congruent actions with what you really want from life.
When the spark for change surfaces it usually results in the purchase of a self help book or a make money manual with the hope that within the wise words of an expert lies the key for finding the true freedom we all crave. The book is read, there might be a brief sugar rush of excitement because you glimpse the potential for a better life and you briefly expand your awareness.
With the excitement of potential carrying you forward you take your first few actions following the guide book you just bought. Unfortunately you don’t really know what you are doing and lack any vision, hence your results are poor and you quickly return to your previous routine because it’s comfortable and predictable. That’s pretty sad too.
Vision Leads To Congruent Actions
A vision is the real key for success and it’s through vision that your actions become congruent and you realize real results, the outcomes, you desire.
Forming a vision isn’t something that happens overnight and the best advice I can give you is evolve your big vision, while also working on minor visions on shorter time frames.
My current big business vision is to have a business based on my expertise in blogging. This business is made up of many different blogging products, and also provides an outlet for me to meet and interact with similar minded people and learn from some of the best trainers in the world in areas I want to improve in.
A smaller vision that makes up part of the big vision is my blog mentoring program. I have certain outcomes I want to achieve through Blog Mastermind, which make up part of my blogging business overall vision.
I also have visions for my Blog SEO book and my Blog Traffic School course, which are also part of the overall business and make up the key components of my sales funnel.
From a day-to-day goals perspective, at the moment I focus on the mentoring program vision, in particular the product launch process, and I take actions congruent with meeting this vision. Each day I complete one or two or three tasks taking me steps closer to launching the program and realizing my first minor vision.
Since Blog Mastermind is my current focus I have the clearest vision and spend the most time on it. The steps for launching the Blog SEO Book are not as clear, but I have a general idea of how I want to launch the book and how it will fit in the overall blog business vision. As I move closer to the time when I will focus on the release of the book, the steps for this minor vision will become clearer.
The minor visions are in constant adjustment due to changes in the environment and my own education process, but the big vision is clear, and the outcomes I expect from the vision motivate me each and every day.
If you don’t have a vision I suggest you spend some time – and some of this is self-reflection and introspection – to determine what vision would result in the outcomes you want.
Begin to break down your big vision into minor visions from which you can extrapolate daily tasks. If you don’t yet know how to do something and it’s stopping you from clarifying your vision, seek education and resources so your vision becomes clearer and therefore your actions become more congruent.
Vision leads to congruency and a powerful motivation, which result in consistent and persistent action. You develop a single-minded sense of certainty – nothing will stop you – no money making opportunity will sway you from your current path and you won’t return to your old routine due to fear of the unpredictable.
Actions may be key, but without vision guiding action, you won’t achieve your goals because you won’t know what your truly goals are.