Why People Don’t Take Action, and How To…

September 12th, 2012 by KP

Been a while since posting on here.

So my sister just forwarded this article on Zen Habits to me – The Habit of Starting, and it sparked a few thoughts in my head of thought processes I’ve been doing lately.

I think the biggest thing for taking action, or starting & creating a new habit is all in your mind. For me, it’s making either the pleasure or pain of the result if you do or don’t take action as intense as possible. When we take action it’s almost always because we’re either moving towards pleasure or away from pain, so making the feeling of pleasure of the result if you do take action, or making the feeling of pain if you don’t take action, so damn intense that you can’t help but take action. Make yourself think & visualize circumstances that would cause pain such as “If I eat XYZ”, or “If I don’t get up & exercise right now, then I will continue to be unhappy with myself physically & mentally” and then for pleasure like “If I eat ABC”, or “If I get up & exercise right now, then I will achieve a disciplined mind & body I am proud of.” You just need to make the feelings of pleasures & pains as intense as possible when you visualize them in order to have no other choice than actually to crave taking action.

Like in the article, the reason we don’t take action is because we’re comfortable. Our comfort zones keep us standing still, comfort is the death of growth, and if we’re not growing we’re dying. So if comfort = no action, then discomfort = action. Using the visual & mental intensity to create emotions of pleasure & pain is a good way to reverse that comfort feeling that so often makes us sit still & not progress, so that it becomes more uncomfortable to actually not take the right action.

Another default I like to do when about to make a decision, whether it’s something I’m about to eat / drink, something I’m about to do etc. is weigh up the short term consequences and the long term consequences of each choice. Example: I’m hungry and want to eat something. A fast food snack tastes good in the short term, but isn’t healthy, will no doubt make me crash in 30 mins, as well as cause me to be out of shape if I continue to snack on fast foods. A salad or spending 5 mins prepping a healthier meal for example might not taste as good in the short term, but it’s better for me nutritionally, will give me sustained energy rather than a quick 30 min burst then crash, and will aid me in achieving a healthy body & mind long term.

Looking at things like this and taking a moment of conscious thought before making a decision rather than responding to the decision unconsciously (unconscious decisions are almost always made using emotion rather than logic) may seem like nothing if you don’t do it “one time”, but that “one time” of taking action is the first step in either creating a good or bad habit. I still to this day haven’t found once instance where the long-term benefits don’t out-weigh the short-term benefits. It just takes a few seconds of conscious thought to make a rational decision rather than an emotional one. The frontal cortex in our brain is the only piece of hardware our bodies have that enable us to make rational, logical decisions rather than emotional ones, and it is that evolutionary frontal cortex that separates us from the animal kingdom where all act based on emotion. When we become slaves to our emotions, we are essentially backtracking in to primal form.

It’s in our moments of decision where our destiny is shaped, so every time you need to make a conscious decision, whether it be that you’re hungry & about to decide what you eat, take a step back and weigh up the short & long term consequences of your actions. With discipline comes reward.

“We are creatures of habit, which means we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not and act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Feels good to get writing on here again.

KP

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