Taking Action – Or Not – Part 1

I often feel that I’m not accomplishing very much. When I was working I made pretty good use of my time because time was a limited resource, and I got a fair amount done. But I still felt that I wasn’t accomplishing very much. Now that I’m not working, things are a lot more complex (more in Part 2), but I still sometimes feel I’m not accomplishing very much.

What causes these thoughts? I think there are many factors. The cultural Protestant work ethic. Trying to prove my worth to my father, even though he has long been dead. And we are social comparison creatures, with comparison skills finely tuned through millennia of evolution. Two examples: 1) In the US, the measure of worth is usually wealth, and there were plenty of people in Boulder much wealthier than I. 2) Many of the people we read or hear about are outliers who seem to go from one major accomplishment after another (if they weren’t outliers we wouldn’t be reading about them.)

I’ll defer to Part 2 the interesting question of how to reduce these thoughts of having to accomplish more. In the meantime, I’ve always been a sucker for books and articles that will tell me how to be more successful, and how to get more done.

Of course I already know the answer.

  • Just Do It.
  • Put in your 10,000 hours.
  • Do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of how you feel.

Or, as Oliver Burkeman puts it in an article, to be able to do what needs doing, whether or not you feel like it, is pretty close to a superpower.

But even though I know the answer, I still want to read books. I’m looking for the magical secret that doesn’t require me to put in 10,000 hours, or do what needs to be done even though I’m feeling tired and would rather sit around reading a book. So I read books. The latest one I want to read, and have put it in my Amazon cart, is The Art of Taking Action. I haven’t yet have now pressed the Buy button.

Why do I want to did I buy this book? Even though I know it won’t change me? Even though I know it’s just a form of procrastination? Even though I know I’ll just be reading it for entertainment rather than results?

I think that’s the answer. Deep down I know I won’t change, but I enjoy this type of entertainment that is mixed with a little wishful thinking.

I tend to exist in a sort of comfort zone where any attempt to get out of the zone requires change which requires doing things differently. And I resist that. I prefer to take the easy road and enjoy the entertainment value I get from reading self-help types of books. So I think I’ll enjoy sitting on the couch reading The Art of Taking Action when it arrives. (Of course, the main purpose of this post is to provide me with a very subtle way of telling Tanya that I’ve bought an unnecessary book that she might not approve of 🙂 )

Do you have any stories about taking action – or not? Or suggestions for me and other readers?

Links and Other Clicks

Part 2 of this two part blog post.

Part 3 of this two part blog post.

Oliver Burkeman article, The Art of Taking Action. Or Not.

The Art of Taking Action, by Gregg Krech.

My own web-based self-help book, The Happiness Dance.

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