I’m quite certain everyone has experienced this: you feel something brewing – a need for a change, a discomfort with your surroundings or a relationship – and you move into action mode.
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Our brains really dislike uncertainty, the unknown, and discomfort. When these show up, it’s often very comfortable to move directly into action because, doing something – anything – removes that feeling of uncertainty and discomfort. Sometimes, fast action is necessary and very appropriate. But the majority of us spend way too much time hanging out in reactivity and fast action.
Our lives are made up of action; our actions guide the trajectory of our lives. So, the choices you make every day are shaping where your life is headed. (Note: the voice in your head may start speaking loudly right now: I’m messing up my life! I’ve made poor decisions! I may as well give up! What’s the point of trying to change course now? It’s too late for me, anyway. This is ridiculous – not every decision is that important! Do any of these voices sound familiar? What is yours saying right now?).
Thoughtful, deliberate action is where the magic happens. And for those of you that love action and momentum, don’t worry, you don’t need to move at a snail’s pace to take thoughtful, deliberate action. And for those of you who may like to delay (dare I say procrastinate?) taking action, this practice I’m about to share works equally well to nudge you into action mode.
The practice is taking a 10,000 ft view (think aerial) of the situation before you. For example, let’s say you’re feeling really uncomfortable at work, and you’re getting the sense it’s time to move elsewhere. The fast action takers start writing cover letters, brush up on their interview skills, and block the night to send resumes. The slow action taker may push aside the discomfort, ignore it, tell themselves the situation really isn’t that bad, and go back to their current-job task. Both of these individuals have found a way around the discomfort and uncertainty. The problem? The fast action taker may end up accepting a job that is no more fulfilling than the one they are currently in; and the slow-to-act individual may stay in an unfulfilling situation way longer than necessary.
Taking a 10,000 ft. view involves recognizing the discomfort and looking at it as an observer. What’s REALLY creating the discomfort at work? Boredom? Lack of autonomy? The culture of the organization? The 10,000 ft view has you get to the root of the matter. Getting specific about the root of the matter informs your next steps – which leads to deliberate, thoughtful action. If you’re bored, defining your need for intellectual challenge will be critical. If it’s the corporate culture, examining the types of people you most want to work with will be key. For fast action takers, this practice has you pause and reflect, so that you can focus your actions. For slow action takers, facing the root of the matter makes it harder to ignore – which can provide the needed impetus for action.
So, over to you: where do you feel change brewing? What do you notice about your life from 10,000 feet? Share in the comments, email me, or share in the Facebook community. And if you’d like to get free coaching activities, tips and tools, sign up to the Catalyst – the monthly Navigate with Intention newsletter. You can sign up by entering your email in the box at the top right corner (or, if you’re on your mobile device, scroll down – or visit www.navigatewithintention.com to sign up).