Taking Action

All the information, technology and skills in the world are useless if you don’t take action and use them. As you know the only reasons that we do anything is out of our need to avoid pain or our desire to gain pleasure.

The key to motivating yourself to do anything, whether it is a minor task such as taking the rubbish out or a major task such as finishing a development project, is to associate more pain to not taking action than taking action and more pleasure to taking action than not taking action.

Out of the two motivating forces (the desire to avoid pain and the desire to gain pleasure) the desire to avoid pain is more powerful. To motivate yourself or anyone to do something, especially to make a major change, you need to make NOT doing it as painful as possible. This is called leverage. No one will ever change without a reason.

Leverage provides not only the reason, but also the emotional intensity required to motivate action.

To get leverage, ask yourself firstly what pleasure you have gained from not taking action. This is an important step. Hey, if you didn’t get pleasure from being the way you are now, you wouldn’t be doing what you are doing, right?

Once you have worked out the pleasure you thought you were getting (often short term) reframe it, make fun of it, and prove your old beliefs wrong. Since everything we do is for a feeling or emotion, it is then important to find an empowering alternative that still gives you the feeling you were after.

For example, let’s say someone was fat and wanted to lose weight. The pleasure this person gains from overeating might be that it seems to make their stress disappear. The first thing they need to do is realize that their belief is falsely associated. It’s not the food that is removing their stress, but rather their change of focus from something stressful to food. The time they take out from whatever is stressing them is the actually source of relaxed feeling, not the food.

For this person to release stress, rather than eating something, next time they start to feel tense they just need to take some time-out and change their focus to something else (I watch Seinfeld or play video games).

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hat will not-doing the task or not changing cost you? What areas of your life will suffer as a result of you not taking action? Remember, your brain can find a vividly imagined experience as intense as a real one. The trick is to fully associate to the pain that you will get if you remain the way you are. To make the experience more powerful imagine what not taking action will cost you in the future. Imagine how bad things could be in a week’s time if you don’t change immediately, in a month’s time, in a year, in 10 years!

The idea is to make it so that not changing from the way you are is such a horrible prospect that you are willing to do whatever it takes to change immediately. Although this is not he most pleasant activity in the world, the change it can produce is amazing and well worth the effort.

If you get enough leverage on yourself (or someone else) you can make enormous changes. This process completely changes the way that you feel about taking action, it is no longer an effort but something that you want to do.

Imagine putting your hand on a hot plate – the pain of your flesh burning would be so great that you would instantly move your hand away. This is what you want to do when getting leverage. Make not changing so painful that you immediately “move away” from it. For example, if you want to stop procrastinating with you studying and homework, imagine the pain of failing your exams and being stuck in a crap job for the rest of your life. The idea is that the pain of failing and having a crap job is enough to motivate you to move from procrastinating to action.

Once you have associated enough pain to not changing, all you then need to do is fully associate to the pleasure you will get when you achieve your goal (this is the fun and easy part). Imagine what your life will be like once you have made the change or achieved the goal. Fully associate to the pleasure of living your dreams.