Are You Stuck?
You know the feeling.
There's something you want to do. You've thought about it, you've made your decision, and now it's time to act.
Except... you don't.
You want to take the next step, but "something" stops you. Do you know what that "something" is?
It's all down to our ancient ancestors...
Backtrack 100,000 years ago when we all lived in caves and ferocious animals lurked nearby.
Decision making in those days was literally a matter of life and death. If you took a wrong turn, or made yourself too visible, you would attract predators who would eat you for dinner. You and the entire group.
Whatever action you took, you had to be 100% certain before taking it. One mistake meant death.
Fast forward to today.
100,000 years on, and the human brain has evolved into a marvel of sophisticated intelligence. Unfortunately, it still contains the primitive thinking layer used by our ancestors.
And there lies the problem.
Because even today, we still have this overriding need for the elusive quality that enabled our primitive forebears to survive:
And so although the decisions we face nowadays are seldom a matter of life and death, they can often feel that way thanks to our genetic inheritance.
That's why the first step is always the hardest to take.
Anytime you decide to do something new, you are stepping outside "the cave of the familiar" into unknown territory where you are likely to experience some form of fear.
And this sense of discomfort is so strong, you'll do anything to avoid it.
Typical tricks include avoidance, delay, or "over- thinking"...
"Over-thinking" is when you continue to think about making a decision, long after you've actually decided! What you're really doing is creating a safe mental environment for yourself. By constantly thinking about something, it becomes familiar, and so you start to feel comfortable around it.
The problem with "over-thinking" is that it doesn't move you forward one tiny bit, and only results in wasted time and lost opportunities.
Ultimately, a decision is not a decision until it's acted upon. Until that point, it remains a dream.
Here's how to ease yourself out of procrastination and into action using what I call the "triple A" method...
Accept -> Ask -> Act
Step #1 - Accept
Accept uncertainty is a part of life.
Just by doing this, you'll become aware of your feelings surrounding a decision and put them into perspective by relating them to your own primeval craving for certainty.
Realize that even with the best analysis, careful planning, and due diligence, the outcome can never really be known in advance and there comes a time when you've got to take the risk and move forward.
Step #2 - Ask
Ask yourself: "What's the worst that can happen here?"
Look at the worst case scenario, and ask yourself what you'd really lose from it. Most often, it's a lot less than you might have feared.
And what can you do if the worst scenario was to materialize? Could you backtrack? Change direction? Start again? Few things are ever truly final.
Usually you'll find you've got nothing to worry about.
Step #3 - Act
Finally, act. Just do it. Take the next step.
Making a decision and acting on it is enormously liberating.
You get a sudden burst of momentum as you cast off the shackles of procrastination and finally move forward towards your goal.
The old maxim "If in doubt, leave it out" is essential advice when driving or engaging in other hazardous activities.
For most decisions in life, though, you can afford to take a little risk and start living.
The next time you feel stuck, use the 'AAA' technique to help you move forward.
Accept. Ask. Act.
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