Most clients who come to me are stuck and want change in some area of their lives — work, relationships, organizational habits, health — and they either don’t know where to start or their previous attempts have failed. (They may not even fully know where or why they’re stuck; they just know something isn’t right, and they’ve finally grown tired of it.)
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with people, it’s that making change is all about doing — just taking action. This was an interesting lesson for me, because I’m such a big fan of thinking. In fact, when I was little, I actually created to-do lists for my weekends that included “thinking time” — pretty funny, given that we lived in the middle of nowhere without a television, and I had plenty of unstructured time. But there was something satisfying about setting aside a specific part of my day to contemplate life’s big questions without interruption.
That’s not the the kind of thinking I’m taking about here, though (in fact, we could use a lot more time for reflection and contemplation in our busy lives). When it comes to tackling problems or making decisions, our problem is often over-thinking. And it’s a poison. Over-thinking gives us the illusion that we’re getting somewhere, when really we’re just spinning our wheels — and those wheels can carve a rut so deep that, before we know it, months and even years have gone by, and we haven’t budged an inch.
Taking action is easier said than done (as you may well know), because so many things can get in our way — usually the very things that have prevented us from acting in the first place: fear of failure, fear of pain, confusion, perfectionism, bad habits. The good news is that these can be overcome, worked through, navigated around — and I’ve helped enough clients now to know it can be done.
When you’re stuck in over-thinking mode, the most important thing is to move. Use some of the energy spent on over-thinking to take one small step. You may not know where you’re going, but start moving anyway: The tiniest action can begin to propel you forward and provide momentum for the next step. Really, it’s all about these baby steps, as cliche as it sounds. (And, of course, hiring a coach is never a bad idea, if you’re truly sick and tired of being stuck.)
Do you tend to over-think problems? Have you ever been stuck in some area of your life? What helps you take action?
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