When I began my journey of self-discovery I was fortunate to have the drive, determination, and courage to move forward full speed ahead. I embarked on this path fully, without reservation or fear that it wouldn’t turn out well for me. I didn’t over-think it, or come up with excuses why it would never happen.
However, there have been many other times in my life when I’ve really wanted to do something but just haven’t been able to move ahead with it.
I have often wondered why I was able to fully embrace my decision to change my life in my early 50s but haven’t been able to do everything in my life with such conviction.
I have been reflecting a lot on why some people are able to accomplish the things they want—without much issue—while others spend much more time thinking and talking than actually doing. I remember my first coach, Robin Sharma, talking about what he called the “Law of Diminishing Intent.” He believed that when you got inspired or excited to do something, the more time it took you to take action, the less chance that it would actually happen. This makes sense, and I think it’s true for a lot of people, but what I really wanted to understand was why this was the case.
What I have come to realize is that when we want, desire, wish, yearn, or aspire to do something it is coming from our right brain, or the feminine side of the brain. This is the part of the brain often referred to as our creative or intuitive side. The left brain, on the other hand, is more verbal and analytical, it’s about logic and facts. It’s often referred to as the masculine side of the brain. What I believe Robin was referring to in his Law of Diminishing Intent is that the longer we are removed from the excitement and inspiration of an idea, the easier it is for our left brain to get involved and, in many cases, talk us out of doing anything about the brilliant ideas we have.
So, whether you want to lose weight, get a new job, leave a relationship or situation you’re feeling stuck in, or begin your own journey to improve your life—the longer you hesitate before taking action, the more opportunity you’ll give your left brain to step in, instil doubt, and halt your plans in their tracks. The longer you wait to take action, the more resistance you’ll invite in.
This resistance and hesitation hasn’t always been with us. When we were children, our desires turned into actions almost instantly. And if they didn’t, we’d likely react with an outburst of frustration or anger. Because children’s brains are less developed than ours, they aren’t able to create all those reasons for not doing something. When young children come up with an idea to do something, they just do it. They haven’t yet been conditioned or ‘domesticated’ as Don Miguel Ruiz calls it, to come up with reasons for not doing the things they want to do.
Now please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying we should always do things without thinking them through. Young children have not yet developed concerns for safety, morality, integrity, or politeness—things which impact, rightly so, the way we conduct ourselves. I believe we need to have a healthy balance between our desires and our actions. But I also believe that far too many people have lost that balance and are thinking themselves out of doing the things that would benefit them the most. And more importantly, that would make them the happiest!
The only way to make the jump from thinking a great idea to actually doing it, is by taking the first step. As Lao Tzu says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
So, what’s your first step going to be?
As we head into 2017, let’s take some advice from Nike and their timeless slogan– Just Do It! The slogan doesn’t say, think about it and then do it. It’s a call to action to launch into whatever ‘it’ may be, while you’re still feeling inspired and excited.
Let’s keep self-doubt at bay. Don’t give any power to that little voice inside your head telling you it will never work. Take one step. Then take another. Check in every so often to ensure what you’re moving toward is in your highest good (you’ll know!), and then keep on going. Step by step by step.
We all have the power to choose our thoughts.
We all have the power to take that first step.
And even if we fail, we all have the power to get back up and try it again.
There is no better time than now to Just Do It!