Are you thinking too much?


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Got the Lifestyle you want?

Maybe you have a fantastic lifestyle design plan? Maybe you visualize your perfect day, the wonderful day when all the work is finished and you reach the goal? And maybe you do put in the time each day to make the plan happen? But when you look at your progress, you find that you are no farther than the last time you checked? If you can relate then you know exactly where I was last week. I was getting nowhere. I was thinking and not acting.

Like most people, I am pretty much blind to my own behaviors. I tend to overvalue my strengths and minimize my weaknesses. Sometimes I get the two confused. One of the things that helps me sort this all out is a coach who keeps me accountable to the commitments that I make. On my own I can distort and defer almost any commitment and create any number of seemingly credible excuses. I may have problems persuading others but I’m a master of manipulating myself.

Accountability is the key to achievement.

Making yourself accountable to commitments and letting someone else monitor your activities really messes with rationalizations. Last week, I had to confess that although I was putting in the hours, several important parts of my plan were dead in the water. Somehow I was not spending any time to make them happen. While I knew I wasn’t working them, I somehow rationalized away how not taking action would sabotage my plan. I don’t know how to characterize that mental state. I was aware that I wasn’t working the plan but somehow it was all right because sometime I would get back to it. I suppose denial is as good a name as any.

Accountability trumps denial.

However last week I had to talk about why nothing was happening. The simple explanation is that I wasn’t doing the work- somehow none of the hours of effort each week were dedicated to those critical activities. We talked about what I was working on and why I never got around to the neglected tasks. There are many possible reasons. Thinking about those reasons is one of the things I do really well. I like to analyze things and figure out how they work. There are a boatload of possible reasons. Maybe I don’t really feel worthy to succeed. Maybe I’m just plain scared to fail. Maybe I’m afraid that my plan is not perfect and I’ll find out half way though it that it needs revision. It might be one of those or all of those. It might be something altogether different. The truth is that neither I not my mentor know for sure. And even more important, it doesn’t matter because knowing why won’t help me finish my plan. Knowing why won’t change my attitude so that I can get working. Knowing why is just one more excuse not to do anything.

The only thing that can fix my attitude is to work my plan. Success can change my attitude, thinking can’t.

“You’ve got a plan.” my mentor told me. Now stop thinking and do it.”

We went through my plan focusing on the commitment of time and ways to ensure that I put in the time on the right tasks each day. So this week, I’m putting in time on those neglected tasks, uncomfortable as it makes me feel. I’m not analyzing. I’m not rationalizing. I’m just doing.

Are you taking action?

I think it’s a common human failing to balk when the time comes to act. Dreams and plans are fine but they are only fantasies without action. If you’ve been putting off some action that is part of a life changing plan, what’s your excuse? If you can relate to my situation, share your experience, especially if you pushed on to success. But more important, take a lesson and stop thinking and act.


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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Bill Murney July 7, 2011, 3:57 am

    Ralph, I think there are times when you are too hard on yourself.

    I know you have plans and to get things done you have to carry out those plans but retirement is a time to enjoy life. If you falter for a period, so what? You have the determination to succeed, so it will happen for you, but maybe not as quickly as you wanted.

    As for the thinking that you’re plan may not be perfect, just do it and alter it accordingly if you have to.

    A-U-L, UK

    • Ralph July 7, 2011, 6:25 am

      Like you suggest, I’m working this thing out but I have to keep doing something.

  • John McNally July 7, 2011, 5:44 am

    Maybe your plan is too much hard work Ralph? Retirement should be a time to relax and enjoy life. If you reduced or altered your plans to make them easier to implement you will gain satisfaction from completion. As you said nothing happens without taking action but maybe a less ambitious plan would help? Just a thought from a lazy Brit.

    Leamington Spa, England

    • Ralph July 7, 2011, 6:51 am

      I’t a good point you make but there is also the fact that I am sometimes just damn lazy. Believe me, I’m not overworked.

  • hansi July 7, 2011, 8:32 am

    I’m with John and Bill. Too much work = Work. Not retirement.

    • Ralph July 7, 2011, 10:25 am

      You’re the guy that couldn’t get enough ot the house of pain. Give me a break.

      • hansi July 7, 2011, 11:57 am

        You need a job Ralph! Nothing like sixteen to twenty hours a week at the House of Pain doing mind-numbing repetitive and tediously useless crap to make ya feel great about laying around the house not doing squat.

        • Ralph July 7, 2011, 4:11 pm

          But Hansi,
          I thought that you were doing all this to protect the rest of us from miscreants. I just spent 3 hours getting an ad up on a website. Next time I hope it only takes me 2. Then I can take a bon bon break.

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