Feelings Follow Action

Don’t you love the feeling you get when a major goal or task has been accomplished?  You’ve repeatedly caused something to happen, and finished something you’ve set out to do.  There’s a certain degree of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes from bringing a task to closure.

What’s probably more familiar, at least for me, is knowing what action I need to take, but just not feeling like it.  Have you been there too?  I find it frustrating because of the internal conflict it creates.  I know I should do “specific tasks, but I don’t feel like it, so I don’t.  The next day, I still don’t feel like taking action because I didn’t do anything the day prior.  If I’m not mindful, this cycle can go on for days, weeks, or even years!  So how do we combat this lack of feeling, this lack of motivation, or lack of a “want to”?  The best solution I have found… is to take action anyway, regardless of how you feel.

When we wait for feelings to arrive before taking action, we put ourselves at a huge disadvantage, because the majority of the time we don’t feel like doing the hard work it takes to be successful.  As a result, we wind up waiting to be motivated by feelings that never show up.

I’ve often heard feelings and actions compared with an engine and a caboose on a train.  The feelings are represented by the caboose and the actions by the engine.  So what does this mean for those of us who are trying to take actions when we don’t feel like it?  Well, it means that we start doing the actions, regardless of how we feel.  Once the actions are started, the feelings will follow.  Feelings follow actions.

One of my favorite authors is John Maxwell.  He’s written several dozen books on leadership, personal development, and growth.  He’s stated that aspiring authors often tell him that they’d like to write a book, to which he always replies, “What have you written so far?”  By far the answer he says he gets most often is, “Well, nothing yet.”  Then they ask him how he got to be a successful writer, to which he replies, “I started writing.”

I love his reply, because it’s so simple and straightforward.  It doesn’t say you have to learn all you can about writing first or that you have to spend years studying.  He doesn’t even say that you need to feel like writing first.  It simply states that you must begin, regardless of feelings.  You just have to take action.

I’m amazed how many authors have confided in pod casts that they don’t necessarily enjoy writing, but they like the outcome (finished books) so they commit disciplined effort to the act of writing.  This thought make me think how easy it can be to get ahead for people who are willing to take the actions necessary to be successful, regardless of how the feel.  This is true for writing as it is for any other endeavor we eagerly want to pursue.

What’s that area in your life where you know you need to take action, but often don’t feel like it?  Challenge yourself this week by committing to take action in this area, regardless of how you feel.  Then note if your feelings haven’t changed as a result.

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