“Look before you leap” is a great maxim to follow in certain situations.
Literal leaping, for one.
Knife-juggling and prescription medication as well.
But when seeking to change your mindset and instill new principles to help you get to your goal, I’m strongly for the opposite—leap before you look.
This is the mindset that places more importance on doing rather than analyzing or even thinking.
It sounds like a risky proposition, but it’s probably safe to say that you have a bit too much safety in your life.
Let’s say you’re working on a music platform.
You have this fantastic idea for an app—it’s sort of like Shazam on steroids.
Not only will it identify what song you’re listening to, but it will also provide you a full list of musician and production credits, along with lyrics and other information that might be relevant.
You start mapping it out and telling a couple of trusted associates about it.
You’re just about to start on the coding when you start questioning yourself.
How are you going to obtain all this information in the first place? You’re sure that if information companies saw your product in action, then they’d be happy to reach a deal to lease out that information, so why don’t you just get started…
Wait a minute.
Is this something modern music users really want? Who’s going to stop while they’re listening to a certain song because they have to know who exactly programmed the drum machine? Sure, if a potential customer saw all the information they could get from the app, then they’d see how much they’d enjoy using it.
So get to work and…
How are you going to convince the marketing department to make this a priority? They’re too busy promoting exclusive content.
They’re probably going to scoff when you ask them to promote the service—it’s just a list of names and instruments.
Seriously? Maybe they could market it to power-users, so why don’t you just go to work on the prototype and…
Uh, where’s the budget coming from? Is this something you’re going to work on in your free time? What if it doesn’t work and…
Next thing you know, six months have passed you by, and someone else has launched an app doing exactly what yours does.
It doesn’t look as good as you think it should, but it was first.
They get all the media coverage, accolades, and investment.
Your project? Project over.
There’s a difference between smart planning and over- caution.
If we paused in our tracks to consider every potential warning or predicament, we’d spend so much time in review that we’d effectively stop what we’re doing.
Most people never get out of this cycle of inactivity because they find it much easier to be apprehensive than proactive.
In actuality, it makes everything that much harder.
When we think excessively about the possible consequences of doing something, some may be legitimate, but 99% of them are simply excuses to prevent you from taking action.
The way to break through this trap is by thinking less and doing more.
Always be moving forward—the alternative is staying still or stagnating, and nobody accomplishes anything in that mode.
When you’re at that juncture of moving forward or taking pause, it’s always a good idea to err on the side of action and avoid the risk of stasis.
Let’s dive into some mindsets that will keep the wheels rolling and you on track to your goals instead of sidelined by yet another shiny object.
Thinking vs. Doing
Thinking is inactive.
While it helps you realize certain facts, it doesn’t make you act upon them.
Thinking is the antithesis of doing, even though it may feel like you’re really making headway—you’re not.
Science actually suggests there’s a wide chasm between thinking and doing.
Psychologists Arie Kruglanski and Tory Higgins said that humans maintain two separate but correlated orders of motivational behavior: thinking and doing.
While they complement each other, the researchers suggested that we’re only able to use one of those at a time.
For example, consider the activity commonly called “brainstorming,” where we simply try to conjure up as many ideas as we possibly can.
This mode, which they call diverging, employs our “thinking system.” When we sift through those ideas to decide which ones are the best, the activity’s called converging and relies on our “doing system.” Generally, we get inspired to think and act at different moments.
But frequently, when we get the motivation to “do” something, we actually resort back to “thinking” mode.
Thinking doesn’t require much effort and is the easiest of the two activities to engage in.
This is where our mindset needs to adjust more to “doing” mode.
We need to get out of analysis mode and start putting energy into motion.
As the study proves, this is something we need to intentionally choose to do because thinking and doing are mutually exclusive.
Making plans is fun—at least, for many of us, more fun than doing.
Sorting out our plans, cataloging our wishes or daydreams, and generating ideas is sometimes the most thrilling and stimulating phase of any project.
We usually emerge from such sessions energized and ready to get to work.
Thinking keeps us safe from failure and lets us dwell in the fantastical and imaginary.
It’s a reprieve from reality.
But often that work is never followed through on if it’s initiated at all.
Other things come up, or other needs arise.
The plans we make get relegated to the bottom of our agendas.
That’s the point where they get demoted.
Sure, it sounded like a great idea at the time, but now that the business of daily life has taken over, that goal seems more and more impractical.
We can’t afford to execute on it, or we wonder if it will make any sense to do it at all.
The idea essentially withers away while it’s in the purgatory of the thinking mindset.
It joins a long list of other great plans and schemes that burned brightly in a minute and then died on the vine.
The plans will never see the light of day.
Any work that’s been done on them will remain only partially complete.
That’s why the “doing mindset” is so imperative.
It represents the point where your thoughts translate to action.
As exciting as it is to come up with new ideas, it’s much more exciting to see them take shape in front of your eyes thanks to your concentrated work on them.
Especially in today’s world in which such huge importance is given to “data-driven decisions,” so many of us spend an inordinate amount of time researching, strategizing, and analyzing how to get the greatest results.
In the meantime, those who are engaged in the “doing” mindset are actually producing.
Don’t get me wrong—review metrics and data exactly as much as you have to.
But without taking a first step, writing a first word, or hammering the first nail, all you’ve ended up doing is muttering to yourself pointlessly.
Granted, of all the mindsets presented in this book, the “doing” mindset is probably one of the more demanding to initiate.
It involves self-discipline and dedication and certainly comes with a bit more risk.
But it’s far and away the best way to advance.
Whatever your goal, you’re not going to be able to think yourself into it.
Most of us will be regarded or defined by the actions we take, not the thoughts we have.
And that’s where you have to take the leap of courage to get out of meditative mode and snap into action mode.
Don’t hold yourself back because of the qualities or resources you need but don’t have.
If you hop into doing mode and start rolling, you’ll find ways to get it done.
Excuses will fade, and results will take their places.
Identify the smallest step you need to take.
Think about the biggest goal you have on your agenda.
Don’t let how ambitious this goal seems or how much work it will take get in your way.
It’s not that ambitious when you think in terms of small steps.
What is the first, small step you need to do to get this goal rolling? You’ll be surprised how easy it is to keep working after you’ve broken ground.
For example, if you’re looking to start brewing your own beer, the first step you need to take is probably studying how the whole process works.
There are plenty of books you can buy that describe the process and even more websites that depict it even more succinctly.
Maybe your first step is even just to clear out enough space in your garage.
Those are the first and smallest steps you take before you go out and buy mash, hops, yeast, and carboys that take over your home.
Resolve to consume less, produce more.
This is vital to consider right now since consumption involves more than just resources or food—it also includes massive amounts of information, distraction, and amusement.
It takes more effort these days to stop constant intake.
But it’s far more rewarding to evolve into a mindset of production.
It’s not even close.
It will help you spring into action.
Consuming, like thinking, is passive and requires no real effort.
Producing something is doing something that’s active and creative.
A good way to shift that mindset is to take a certain unit of time—one day is good, five or six days even better—and estimate how much time you spend surfing the web, watching television, playing games, or any other activity that satisfies your amusement without much in the way of giving out.
Then, bit by bit, start replacing your consumption with activities with which you produce something.
Instead of reading for two hours a night, try writing during one of those hours.
Rather than watching a bunch of YouTube videos, try making a couple and posting them yourself.
Again, this is a conscious shift you’ll have to make at first.
Stop learning, start applying.
It might feel counterintuitive to stop learning and absorbing information, but taking the leap and applying your knowledge to action is very important.
Remember, you can choose one of the two, and there are times for each. Besides, actually doing something is one of the most effective methods of learning anyway.
It actually complements your “always be learning” mindset to start the work.
For example, if you’re learning to paint, you’ll probably spend a lot of your early coursework learning how to make sketches before you move on to actually using paints.
There’s no reason you can’t make a whole series of sketches for your own purposes before moving on to the first chance you’ll have to paint.
For all you know, all your preplanning could go out the window or be completely wrong.
Doing is actually the best way to learn because you get to combine experience with the knowledge you’ve synthesized beforehand.
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- The Art of Intentional Thinking: Master Your Mindset. Control and Choose Your Thoughts. Create Mental Habits to Fulfill Your Potential (Second Edition) By Peter Hollins
- Get the audiobook on Audible at https://bit.ly/IntThink
- Show notes and/or episode transcripts are available at https://bit.ly/self-growth-shownotes
- Peter Hollins is a bestselling author, human psychology researcher, and a dedicated student of the human condition. Visit https://www.PeteHollins.com to pick up your FREE human nature cheat sheet: 7 surprising psychology studies that will change the way you think.
- For narration information visit Russell Newton at https://bit.ly/VoW-home
- For production information visit Newton Media Group LLC at https://bit.ly/newtonmg