October 2019: Action, Action, Action

I write this after attempting to get some zombie make-up off for the last ten minutes—which was quite strong—so that I don’t go about scaring people in the street today! I had a great early Halloween weekend though, and in general a great month. This month (after the set-back a couple of months ago!) has been successful.

I’ve managed to get on top of my fitness, made progress with some more YouTube videos, started coaching individuals—and even delivered my first speech at Toastmasters. J

However, I am going somewhere with this… What I am getting at is that none of this progress would have been possible without taking action.

So, taking action is today’s focus! If there’s one key lesson I’ve picked up in the last year—amongst many—it’s that I am responsible for my own actions, no matter if I am in a bad state or not. The action I take will determine my outcomes.

Today, I discuss action with learning, action with fear / confidence and action with feeling happy. Taking action is key to personal growth and improving mental health.

 

Action and learning

A few weeks back, I produced a YouTube video on the subject of knowledge and application, and this is the message I am going to emphasise here.

You can pick up all the books, courses, YouTube videos, Podcasts etc., that you like, but if you don’t actually apply that knowledge, then nothing will change. Sitting in front of your screen watching endless YouTube ‘how to’ videos may be inspiring—but you really do have to get up off the couch and do something with the information! (Or, sit on the couch and do something productive online—but you get my drift).

At first, when starting out, you are more than likely going to need these kinds of resources, and you really do need to get all the resources you can, but there is a point when you need to take action. When taking action, I’ve found that is when the true learning actually begins. But this is where people get stuck.

The sad reality is, however, that making things happen doesn’t occur magically, just because you watched some videos. It won’t come by telepathy.

I can use an example from my own life. In starting a YouTube channel, it wasn’t until a conversation with my coach and mentor that I realised I was holding back and needed to start. I was constantly having the conversation with myself that I needed to watch more speakers or learn more before I set up my channel. There was always some reason to procrastinate on the action.

When I came to making my first videos, I didn’t like the videos much but as I made more and more and attended groups such as Toastmasters, I became a lot better. That was when I started learning about my style and how to adjust. The improvements would not have been made unless I actually started.

It’s easy for you to think you need more information before taking action. I never stop learning—as we are all learning—but I make sure I actually take action to make a difference to my life. Even though, sometimes, taking action involves stepping out of the comfort zone or facing fear, which brings us to the next section:

 

Action and fear / confidence

Have you seen a highly confident person perform a speech or stroll into the workplace and thought, wow, they have all the confidence in the world and no fear? Well, you’re wrong. They are—or would have been—afraid, but they have faced the fear and taken action on it.

There are many ways to try and handle fears, such as visualisation, meditation and in extreme phobia cases, the likes of therapy.

Although these can be effective ways to face fear and increase confidence a bit, and in extreme cases are often needed, the only way you truly can become more confident is by actually taking action and doing the things you fear so you get more accustomed to them.

Now, sometimes, to get confidence in an area or to face a large fear, it can be simply too great a jump for an individual. In these instances, it can be beneficial to break the challenge down even further, into smaller steps.

I will use an example from my life again. When I first started working in the public sector, I was terrified to even say my name in a room full of senior managers. I wanted to become more confident in situations like this, though. So, I broke it down to address these action points:

  • Speak in an apprentice and graduates-only group
  • Give a small update in my smaller team meeting
  • Chair a smaller team meeting
  • Give a simple update in a meeting with senior managers
  • Provide verbal reports in meetings with senior managers and directors.

Some of the above, I would attempt a couple or a few times before moving to the next stage, but I grew my confidence. By taking actions, though, I have massively developed my confidence in speaking. In my current organisation, I can give company updates, chair the key meetings as well as giving speeches to Toastmasters and doing weekly YouTube videos.

 

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Action and being happy

As probably most, if not all of you will realise, there is no smooth path through life. There will be challenges and setbacks. The choice you do have is how you respond to setbacks and challenges like this. What action you take when things go badly, or when unfortunate circumstances happen, is crucial.

Just to point out, when something extremely bad happens such as a family member’s or a friend’s death, or a tough relationship break-up, these things will take time to grieve over and you wouldn’t have been best placed in missing that grieving time out. Nobody is saying you have to be on top of your game the whole time.

However, there are some bad things where there comes a point to learn from the experience and take action for the rest of your life.

To be happy, you have to do happy. When you take positive action, you won’t always get positive results, but you will eventually. However, lying constantly in self-pity or performing actions such as constantly eating too much junk food, drinking too much or generally not taking care of yourself will be unlikely to provide a positive outcome. There are plenty of examples of famous people who had a horrible start or terrible moments in their lives, but they continued to take action and became the people they are today.

I find it vital for me to take action on myself to look after my mental health. I want to be happy, and know I have to take action to do this. I am in a state whereby I can’t ever give up on myself. Why would I? I am going to be me for the rest of my life, so why not try and take action to make my life as good as it could possibly be?

So, going back to my set-back from the summer, I asked myself what action could I take? It wasn’t an easy time, but I started to increase my meditation, I made sure I ate foods that didn’t deprive my energy or sugar levels—as these would exacerbate my anxiety—and made sure I kept up social activities.

I kept taking action even when I didn’t feel like it.

Then I found progress in my life again. Things started to work out better, even though not straight away. I do believe life will improve, and things will be delivered to you, but you have to take constant positive action even when it’s hard.

Personal growth for me is something that is a must and I love growing myself, even in hard times.

 

In summary

You can try and reframe your thoughts. You can take on all the learning you want—but if you don’t back all this up with the right actions, nothing will change. Is taking action easy? No, not always. In which case, it can be highly beneficial to break the action down into smaller, simpler chunks. Getting results from action can take time, but by applying no action, nothing will change.

 

Jonny Pardoe

Photo by Cade Prior on Unsplash

 

Jonny Pardoe © October 2019

 

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