Start or Wait…What should I do?

The summer of 2010 I took the StrengthFinders™ test and found my top strength was Learner. This means I feel strong when I’m learning (I also have Responsibility, Intellection, Empathy and Connectedness). As a Learner, I enjoy reading business and self-development books and have found a conflict in the advice from two positions. The conflict is in the mixed message of “Taking Action” and “Delaying Gratification.”

One position is taking action and getting started.  This has always been my axiom from Og Mandino as he stresses it in Scroll IX, “I will act now” from his book the “Greatest Salesman in the World.”  Supporting this position is David J. Schwartz in his book, “The Magic of Thinking Big” as he writes in chapter 10; “The way to combat any kind of fear is action.”

Another position is from the Marshmallow Experiment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment) that stresses the increase of future success with the discipline of delaying gratification.  This position is opposing the gratification and confidence I feel when I take action.  Is this author giving me the idea of waiting will increase my chances of success? Probably not. I don’t believe their intention is to promote procrastination.

ChangeLet’s combine both positions into a success formula, and use the intention of both to make us stronger in reaching our desired goal.  After all, that is the focus. What is the goal is the first question. If you cannot define and describe your goal, you will be distracted and tempted with stalls and pitfalls.  Plus you may never arrive at your goal. Always working on your project, wanting it to be perfect.

The second step is believing! When you have a goal and you believe in it, your mind will be open to the possibilities and not limitations. Your creativity will multiply. Act as if you won the lottery and your imagination runs wild with ideas on what you would do with all that money.

Third, involve others. People close to you will be involved in your adventure. Involve them before you push off in your quest. They will bring another perspective and introduce something you may have omitted. When they support you, you are not traveling alone. When they don’t, you will be working against them and you need their support. Show them you believe and demonstrate your enthusiasm in your goal, and they will be enthusiastic with you.

Fourth, expect adversity. There will be problems and obstacles along the way. You cannot plan for everything. Commit to meeting the challenges as they arise. Stay strong and focused on the goal and not be tempted to surrender. This is where you can exercise the discipline of delayed gratification. Don’t quit.

Fifth, adjust when necessary. The road may turn to avoid hitting a tree. If you don’t turn, your journey is over. Ask yourself; “Does this adjustment change my path, but not my goal?” If the answer is yes, consider it an expense on the journey.

Sixth, know when you’ve arrived. When you start with a goal and have defined it, you should know when you’ve arrived at your destination. Like any flight, there may have been some turbulence and delays, but you know when you’ve arrived alive.

Seventh, celebrate the results. Mission accomplished. Your discipline paid off and you did it.

Because you committed to start – taking action – and had a plan, you were able to stay on track. The same discipline used to postpone gratification was used to avoid quitting when adversity and adjustments arose. And you are in a better place than when you started.

The time to start is never perfect. You will not know all the answers before you take that first step. There will always be challenges along the way, no matter how prepared you think you are at the beginning. The choice to start and begin with the first step will change your life. You will find new questions and new answers. Your life will be the same tomorrow as it is today, unless you change something now.

Make change your choice and not someone else’s. Everything that has a beginning, has an ending. Take control of the journey.

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Comments

  1. Great post Scott! Right on the money. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. David Downing says:

    My perfectionist tendencies mean I sometimes find it easiest to do nothing at all, when the “right” choice isn’t clear. But not long ago I read something that I had to think about, and it made sense. The author said in such a situation, the important thing is to make a decision and take action. Yes, you might find out it wasn’t the right choice, but better to find that out sooner rather than later, so you have more time to start over if necessary.

  3. I like the idea of inspired action. If you need to make a decision or feel pressured to take action, wait until you can do it with confidence. Maybe, you need more information or discussion. Maybe you need another point of view. I’ve found it is best to wait on action until you can do it with full zest vs. forced and half-hearted.

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