The Psychology of Taking Action

Try to think back to a time when you were totally focused and committed to achieving something. You may have been preparing for an important job interview or perhaps you were training for an upcoming sports competition or maybe you were getting ready to give an important presentation in a meeting. Take a minute to remember what it felt like to be there in the moment. Where were you? What were you thinking about? How did your body feel? Did everything seem to be clicking?

Now try to think of a time when you felt the exact opposite. A time when you were not completely focused even though it was something that you really wanted to achieve. Despite your intentions you couldn't seem to begin working on it. Or maybe you were working on it but were struggling to create the necessary energy needed to produce effective results. Procrastination was easy to slip into and feeling excited about working towards your goal seemed impossible. You may have even begun to make excuses to yourself about how you actually didn't really want it after all. What was the difference between these two situations? Did you want to achieve one goal more than the other? Perhaps. However, I think that there is a different, much more important, reason for why we are able to achieve some goals and not others. I like to call this reason 'belief'.

I think that the beliefs we have about our own potential is either something that drives us forward or something that holds us back. If you believe that you have an abundance of potential that will allow you to achieve a goal, it is safe to say that you are also going to take a lot of action in reaching it. Taking massive action is more often than not going to give you desirable results. Getting these good results is then going to confirm the belief you had in yourself and increase the sense of potential that you already feel. In this way a cycle is born. 

Let's make up an example to look at how this cycle can work negatively. Pretend that you are the leader of a company that makes smart phones. Your ultimate goal is to become the market leader in selling smart phones. This means that you would have to over take Apple and their successful iPhone. If you believe that this is literally an impossible task, what kind of action are you going to take? I say very little action. You are likely going to settle for a more 'realistic' goal and work on that instead. There is nothing wrong with this except that the fact that you still wish your company could be better than Apple still remains. Since the action you are taking is not directed towards becoming better than Apple, you will naturally not see such results. This result will in turn confirm your beliefs that beating Apple is an impossible task. You will have gone full circle and feel even less potential in achieving your ultimate goal. This is what is called a downward spiral and can be seen in so many aspects of life.

Addicts believing they cannot recover. They take little action in seeking out treatment and continue to hangout with other friends that can trigger their addiction. Soon enough they relapse and confirm their original belief, making recovery even harder the next time. Students who believe that they cannot learn a subject they struggle with, will likely study very little for a test. Their lack of studying will give them a poor grade, and so they will confirm their beliefs about their abilities. Older people who do not believe they can keep up with modern technology, don't even try to familiarise themselves. They are confirmed in their beliefs every time their child or grandchild tries to teach them how to use their phone. 

What would happen if you instead approached your goal with the belief that it was possible. Not that you will for sure do it or how exactly you will get there, but only that doing it is possible. What if you believed that through determination, innovation, and a lot of luck, becoming the smartphone market leader was a possibility. You would likely work harder than you ever worked before in order to give yourself a chance of getting there. You would probably tell your employees about your vision, encourage them to think outside the box, challenge every idea that came along in the hope of improving it, work longer hours, read books to inspire you, and attack every opportunity with positive energy. These actions would for sure give you exciting and promising results. You probably wouldn't become the market leader right there and then, but you would be a step closer. More importantly you would boost the belief about your companies potential and your next cycle of actions and results would be even more driven and effective. This cycle can continue until you eventually reach your goal, and can continue afterwards to take you into uncharted territories. 

I hope it is as clear to you as it is to me that the beliefs we have about our potential is the ultimate key toward taking action. The actions you take are what get you the results you desire, but it is your beliefs that get you to take action. So, how can we change our beliefs to positively drive us forward. I have discovered that there are three simple steps that can be taken.

1. Identify your limiting beliefs.

If you are going to change your beliefs you need to know which beliefs are serving you well and which ones are holding you back. Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down three beliefs you have about your abilities that are holding you back. I identified early on that I had a belief that I was not extrovert enough to become the leader of a film production company. I wanted to make films, but my ultimate goal is to be a leader that people admired and wanted to work with in affecting positive change in the world. I changed this belief by using step 2.

2. Ask yourself the right questions. 

I used to ask myself questions like "Why am I so shy all the time?", "What is the disadvantage of being introverted?", and "How come I can't seem to get over my fear of failure?". I asked all these questions with the genuine interest in improving and trying to work toward my goal, but they did the exact opposite. Asking these questions made me think of answers that succeeded in lowering my belief of what was possible for me. I came up with answers like "I'm shy because I don't think my work is good enough.", "Introverts struggle to influence people.", and "I can't get over my fear because it is helping me stay cautious and avoid failing. Failing is the last thing I want to do!" All of these answers are simply not true, but because I asked the wrong questions I came up with bad answers and I believed them!

When I realised what I was doing I started to ask myself new questions like "How can I use my personality as an advantage in influencing people?", "What tools do I have available that will allow me to begin working on a project that I know is important and needs to be made?", and "How can I demonstrate to others, that I have what it takes to create a film that will not only effect positive social change, but will also be seen as an innovative, breathtaking, and bold piece of filmmaking?" Just like with my previous questions, I began to come up with answers. Some didn't work, but most of them succeeded in driving me forward step by step. These questions were the right type of questions.

3. Strengthen your mind and body.

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and stimulating my brain through reading have all been important tools in maintaining a focused state of mind. It is doubtful that you will find yourself in a particularly resourceful state of mind if you eat junk food, sit on the couch, and watch trash TV during your time off. You want to be able to at least attempt steps 1 and 2 if you want to begin making progress. I make sure to fuel my body with foods that will serve it well physically but that will also give my brain the necessary energy to function at a high level. I exercise 6 times a week to make sure I stay physically strong but more importantly mentally strong. I develop skills of discipline, self motivation, and goal setting by running and lifting weights. Reading daily has given so much in terms of knowledge but also in terms of developing a mindset that says "if someone else can do then I can do it too."   

After using the 3 steps and succeeding in changing my beliefs of what I though I could achieve, I have begun working on my most important project yet. I have written a script for a film about self-improvement, pushing boundaries and achieving dreams that I know has the potential of deeply effecting a lot of people. I have continued to improve my technical filmmaking skills which has lead me to conceptualise an original way of capturing and bringing this script to life. I have also decided to involve as many people as possible by funding the first leg of the film via crowdfunding. 

In order for the potential of this project to be realised I need you to believe in my abilities and take action along side me. Your support of contributing to this project has the potential of making a real difference in the lives of people suffering from mental health issues as well as people who are deeply unhappy with where their lives are going. The world we live in can be overwhelmingly negative and this project has the potential of fighting back and turning the tide. This is not a chance for you to contribute to the making of a film but a chance to contribute to a movement that will continue to gain momentum and strength with each obstacle it meets. Do not underestimate the power you have of making this project a reality. Join us now in Awakening The Giant Within by contributing to our movement and telling your friends and family about it! Together we can make this happen! Click the following link to learn how you can become a part of it.  

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