Inaction can actually yield powerful outcomes… especially when you focus on what you’re feeling rather than doing.
Monday morning, and I am dragging my feet across the floor, sluggish and resentful. This is not me! I love to work… I love nothing more than finding clarity for what needs to be done and smashing it out and feeling accomplished and proud of how efficiently the task was delivered. But this is not how I feel today.
Why am I not feeling myself today? Is it something I ate? Did I sleep funny? Am I angry or resentful with someone? What is holding me back today? My to-do list is long and there are plenty of things on it that I enjoy — creative things, helpful things, focused things, and many other things that radiate my true being. But today I can’t find my enthusiasm for any of them.
Something just feels off; I am out of alignment with myself.
How many times do we feel this way and push through anyway? We tell ourselves to stop complaining or we remind ourselves that we’ve successfully pushed through this feeling before. We compare ourselves to others and what they’re achieving or at least seem to be able to accomplish. We tell ourselves that if we stay busy or keep taking action, success will find us eventually. And if it doesn’t, well at least we tried.
I can assure you that this is a mindset I am all too familiar with. Even now as I am writing this, I am guilting myself because it’s not the task that I ‘should’ be doing. I promised a client I would register on their portal and even though this is a quick task, I am procrastinating because I do not believe that this activity will help me radiate as my true being. So, instead I am procrastinating although I know if I just stopped and sat in my own space for a moment, I would be able to move through this discomfort and unease to get everything back on track.
If this situation resonates with you, I recommend you try these two things:
- Breathe — Let the chitter-chatter in your head settle down.
- Be still — Forgive and let go of it all, the expectations, judgments, and assumptions.
When I shift back into my own boots as I get out of the mud, I love to go flying instead. I love flying; there’s no better way to appreciate the bigger picture. As I’m flying up over my house, my town, my city and country, I can see the busyness, that hustle and bustle that never stops. Even now as the world has seemingly ground to a halt, I can still see the busyness everywhere. Motion triggering motions, the waves that ripple around us as people go about filling their day. And in that motion, I can see all the tiny ’tasks’, millions of them, as swarms of tiny flies crisscrossing on top of each other. And I can see the pointlessness of it all.
As I’m flying out of the city away from the busyness and over to green rolling hills, I see an eagle. Its wings are spread, and it is in the most beautiful glide as it spots its prey. The eagle has one clear focus and the skills to swoop in and achieve it. If that eagle and I traded places right now, it would probably flap around in circles, hit its head on the roof, smack into its reflection and hobble over to peck at some fluff on the carpet it thought was food. Yes, I have entirely lost my focus. Not the big picture focus — I’m quite happy with my ultimate destination and life goals that I’d like to achieve in my life.
The focus that I am missing is in the here and now. What am I going to achieve this week? Or more importantly, how would I like to feel this week?
After a decade or so of abundant self-help education, I appreciate the need to set goals, to be clear on what I want to achieve, to set my vision and chart my course. I am a change management specialist, so I understand that most models that deal with personal or professional change ask you to define where you want to be by first looking at where you are now and then deciding what actions to take to get from A to B.
That said, I am not a fan of these models.
If you take a bunch of actions when you’re at point A you’re going to do them with all of the same skills, experience, assumptions, and judgments that you have in your comfy couch at point A. You may take a walk around the block and pretend that you’ve landed at point B, but really, you’ve just walked around in a big exhausting circle back to point A.
Real change — transformative change — occurs when there is equal balance in your focus between where you are, where you want to be, and most importantly, all the new perspectives that will help shift you from point A to point B in a transformed state.
This is known as the Transformation3 approach.
Looking back at those swarming flies or the cars on the freeway, how long would they survive if they all just stopped? Not long because motion is an inherent part of living. So, how do you know when action or inaction is the best approach to help you achieve your desired outcome?
Premature action helps us to feel busy but actually only gets us mostly from point A to point A. On the other hand, inaction creates space for us to truly see our destination from a new perspective. It also encourages us to mentally (often subconsciously) try on different ways of thinking to see what feels right, what is in alignment with how we want to feel.
Truth be told, inaction doesn’t really exist because we’re always in motion. Even as you are consciously choosing inaction, you are allowing yourself to ‘motion’ towards your point B.
You may still be in the process of defining your point B and that’s okay — whoever truly nailed their vision board on the first attempt anyway?
Now that you’re in a beautiful space of inaction, how much have you accomplished by all the things that you have ‘stopped doing’? For most people, the default response to this question will overwhelmingly be to self-guilt. But if you want to feel peace, calm, centered, and successful, by stopping the ‘tasks’ (even if just for a little while) you allow yourself to experience the destination you have set for yourself.
Building your awareness by going deeper into all the layers and complexities of your experiences and capabilities requires you to tap into what is already a part of who you are. No action required, just acceptance of what is already there.
Has your destination been achieved already but you failed to notice? Does your destination just look different from how you pictured it? Have you been taking action towards the wrong destination? This last one truly is the kicker; have you chosen a destination based on an assumption of how you thought it would make you feel?
So many of us have been holding on to an ideal destination because we assumed it was right for us only to realize it wasn’t what we actually wanted at all. To avoid this…
Start by defining the feeling you want and then focus on how to get that feeling.
There are so very many reasons why we don’t get where we’re hoping to get. Perhaps you have been creating a destination based on something unachievable or unattainable. Rather than opting for busyness, try inaction instead.
As for my sluggish start to the week, I realized that I want to feel like I’ve helped some people. Maybe writing this article hits the spot, or perhaps completing that annoying task for my client will open a door I had previously failed to see. Perhaps, I’ll ignore the to-do list altogether and help myself to some tea and a slice of fruit cake as I spend some time reflecting on the past achievements that I was too busy to notice (or appreciate) at the time. Either way, my inaction has allowed me to feel fabulous, motivated, and truly back in alignment with myself.
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