How To Take Your Own Advice – Motion vs Action

I know what you’re thinking: “All this guy can write is posts trying to encourage and motivate people. Just more ideas on getting stuff done.” Maybe you think, “Lee, do you actually take your own advice?”

It’s a fair point. You could say these posts are a sort of journal of my personal growth and posts I need to read myself. But be honest. You are very interested in what I have to say – my personal growth, or not! 😊 Nonetheless, here we go…

Do as I say, not as I do! Hmmm… Doesn’t this ring true for all of us sometimes? For those of us who like giving advice, tips, lessons, strategies or how-tos, perhaps our words are too often just that – words. It’s easier to speak the words than it is to take action ourselves. Let’s change this!

Here are my thoughts on how to take your own advice.

Motion vs Action

There’s a big difference between motion and action. James Clear says in his book, Atomic Habits:

When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning… but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.”

The biggest challenge for me is to not get stuck in the planning and strategizing and taking notes phase. What I need to do is act.

For example, when I outline a few ideas for blog posts (that are so life-changing for you), I’m in motion, but I’m not producing a result. However, when I sit down and actually write and publish the post, that is action. There’s a big difference indeed!

Action’s Biggest Enemies

Two of the biggest enemies or hindrances to action are:

  1. Procrastination, and
  2. Perfectionism.

When we’re stuck in motion, we’re susceptible to procrastination. We feel like we’re doing something, but our motion is not producing results.

One of the biggest reasons we procrastinate is perfectionism. We’re waiting for the perfect:

Forget about perfection to motivate you to create that masterpiece. Nothing will ever be perfect. (Wow. What a downer I can be!) Don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good (my paraphrase of Voltaire’s famous proverb).

3 Ways to Set Yourself Up for Action & Get Things Done

“Okay, Mr. You Think You’re So Wise,” you say, “What does this all look like? How do I actually take action?”

Good question! Here are a few simple yet effective ideas that I’ve learned and still work at.

  1. Set Up Your Station

Set up your working environment for action. For me, one of the most effective tactics is to reset my studio at the end of the day: tidy, retune guitars, reposition gear, etc. When I come in the next day, my station is ready to go. No fussing. Just get into action! Plug and play!

  1. Plan Ahead

Do yourself a favor. Avoid sitting down to work and without an answer to the question, “Now what should I work on today?” That’s a sure action killer!

Have a plan. Again, at the end of each day, write down what’s to be done the next day. Simple, easy, but too often not done.

Also, having no plan can quickly turn into what…? That’s right! The P word again – procrastination.

  1. Stay Focused

This is where I struggle the most: focus! If you have a hard time, as I often do, focusing on a project or task for extended periods of time (the getting in and staying in the flow), I have the perfect fix for you. Wait! I said “forget about perfection” earlier, so I have a challenge for you!

Simply work in short chunks of time. Try 15 minutes at a time, then take a fiver, then come back for another 15 (or whatever length you feel you can handle in one stretch).

I’m extremely envious of those who can sit down to work then look up at the clock and realize they’ve been in the flow of it for 8 hours straight! Man! That would be nice. However, not all of us are like that. Experiment and find a strategy that works for you. Who knows? Perhaps, as we grow, our 15 minutes will turn into 30 which will turn into 8 or 10 hours!

It has also been effective for me to stop before the thing I’m working on becomes fatiguing. Stop when the flow is still happening! It seems counterintuitive, but it works for me and keeps the action fresh for when I come back to it later. Don’t knock it till you try it!

Flowing in the Creative Process

Hopefully, these ideas will help you find your flow and keep the creative process going. Try these tips to get beyond motion and take action. If you do experiment with any of these ideas, let me know how it turned out for you.

As a side note: Have you ever thought, “Wow. What a bunch of temperamental, moody, fickle, (insert your own adjective) wackos we creative types can be?” I’m convinced we’re all a little insane! But that’s okay. I say, “Flow with it!”

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