I was recently inspired by a question asked by James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits. The question asked, “Do I actually need more information, or do I simply need to act on the information I already have?” It got me to think about how I show up in the world and about the things I hear every day, impacting other business leaders in the community.
Now, more than ever, all the information we need to do almost anything is within reach 24 hours a day. You would think with an abundance of information, we would be more productive, but let’s face it… that’s not always the case. In fact, all that information sometimes leaves us wanting more, stopping us in our tracks because of it. Although it seems counterintuitive, this concept frequently impacts people, both professionally and personally.
The stagnancy and lack of action can leave us spinning our wheels, dissatisfied with ourselves and progress. To break out and move forward, we need to circumvent 1) lack of knowledge, 2) low confidence, 3) need for perfection and 4) information overload.
Lack of Knowledge:
A huge barrier to success is a lack of knowledge. Successful individuals passionately consume new information and skills whenever possible. Acquiring knowledge can be done many ways. For example, formal acquisition can be through furthered education or by obtaining necessary certifications, whereas informal acquisition can be through reading, podcasting, attending conferences, participating in webinars and online training, or seeking knowledge from peers and mentors. Set yourself apart by consistently improving yourself and your knowledge base. That way, when you encounter opportunities that make your heart skip a beat, you can approach them with confidence. You can acknowledge that although you may not know everything, you can learn it and still be successful in the meantime.
Full disclosure… Confidence is something I’ve struggled with for years, with periodic nagging in my mind telling me I’m not quite good enough. It’s real! It’s human! Sometimes it’s true, and most of the time it’s not. For quite a while, I had to borrow others’ belief in me until I trusted myself. To get the confidence needed to accomplish goals or simply take action, make a list of all the things you have done successfully or have been appreciated for in the past. Seeing the list in one spot may be all you need to gain the confidence to do the dang thing. Hint: start keeping a victory list to look back on when you need affirmation, because it’s easy to forget just how great you are when you’re feeling down-and-out. If you’re still not feeling it, ask to shadow someone and see them in action. You’ll likely see some great things, some things you’d do differently and some mistakes along the way. Once you’ve seen how they do it, ask them to shadow and coach you, so you can feel confident that, if you stumble along the way that they’re there to help and to have someone give you an outsider’s perspective of opportunities to improve and reminders of your successes. With a few times under your belt, you’ll feel confident to tackle the thing on your own.
Need for Perfection:
We all want to be great and put the best product out there, but good grief, sometimes we just need to get ‘er done. Sheryl Sandberg has been quoted as saying, “Done is better than perfect.” Now, she didn’t exactly mean for us to put just anything out there, regardless of the quality. She meant that we need to acknowledge the amount of effort it takes to go from a B result to an A result. There will be times when A results are necessary, (hello brain surgeons, we’re talking to you) however most of the time, the B product is more than acceptable. Getting the B product out there will allow the product to have other iterations and improvements, making it better than you could have envisioned. This allows us to move on to the next thing that needs to be done. Before you give that final push for perfection, check to see if the juice is truly worth the squeeze or if the amount of time and effort it will require is more draining than necessary. Once you’ve done this, make the choice, rather than acting unconsciously.
Have you ever made the choice to make healthier decisions with your diet, walking straight to the protein bar aisle at the grocery store? Talk about information overload! Way too many choices. Way too many products claiming they’re the best. Far too many nutrition labels to read. Too many options and too much information can overwhelm us to the point of inaction and leave us questioning the best choice. Knowing this, give yourself a limit on the number of sources you’re going to seek or the number of people you’re going to ask, and then make a choice. Remember, the decision you make today doesn’t have to be the same decision you make every day after that. You have the freedom to make a different choice based on new knowledge or experiences in the future.
The key to breaking out of inaction is identifying what triggers you and creating a plan of attack to get you out of your head and into action. If you can’t figure out your triggers on your own, ask a trusted friend, coworker, or mentor. These people are 100% aware of something that might be tripping you up and will probably have helpful ideas to help you get back to doin’ the dang thing.