Actions vs Words
“A LITTLE LESS TALK AND A LOT MORE ACTION.”
Have you ever noticed how certain phrases in songs can stick with you? You don’t necessarily remember the whole song, just the phrase. Then, unfortunately, if you go back to the actual song, the phrase that has come to mean one thing to you means something totally different in the context of the song.
This week’s motivational phrase comes from the Toby Keith song, “A Little Less Talk and a Lot More Action.” In re-listening to his song, however, I realize that he never meant the phrase the way the phrase has affected me. If you listen to his song, Toby talks about wanting to go into a bar and find a woman who is more action than talk. To me it says stop talking about getting something done and get up and do it.
NOTE: Just because the phrase in the context of the song does not mirror how the phrase affects you is NOT a reason to toss the phrase out of your motivational phrase gallery or to stop listening to a favorite song. Let those words motivate you.
BUT, the phrase in his song (and the title) goes hand in hand with the concept that actions speak louder than words and that I need to stop TALKING about doing things and actually DO them.
The phrase, “A little less talk and a lot more action” is a vital concept for right now in my life, in your life, and in the world.
How many times to you talk, plan, wish, hope, dream
nothing ever comes of it?
Do you sit down write down an agenda for the day or week
fail to check anything off.
So often, we are all talk – we talk a good game – we have great ideas, but we fail to implement them – take action on them. We talk about how we should get things done, or we talk about how others should get things done without looking at our state of affairs. We talk about how we should help people, or we talk about how others (people, institutions, organizations, and the government) should help people without looking at how we can help.
I’m not a psychologist,
but I’m willing to guess one of the following reasons that we do more talking and less acting just might apply to you.
REASON #1: PROCRASTINATION
Do you EVER take something you like to do and places it before what needs to get done?
Do you ever sit down to play a video game (on your phone, on your computer, or on your gaming system) for just a few minutes before you tackle a task that needs to get done only to find that several hours have past? Yes?
I thought so.
Sitting down to watch a half an hour or an hour of television or one movie is another way we procrastinate.
Or how about reading a book, magazine, or newspaper?
What other things do you do when you procrastinate taking action?
REASON #2: PERFECTIONISM
Perfectionism, the need to get something totally right so you don’t have to do it again, can get in the way of taking action. We get stuck in the planning stage and plan the project to death because the perfect plan will lead to the perfect project.
Not necessarily. Planning a project to death can kill the project or push it off until you need to re-plan the project.
When we moved into our new home, I knew, without a doubt, that I needed to at least paint the guest room and my writing studio. The guest room was painted a lime neon green with white trim and hot pink curtains. There was nothing calming about the space.
And yes, I tend to be a perfectionist. I checked out the colors over and over again. I planned when to paint and then used weather to procrastinate or didn’t buy the paint because what if the colors I chose I didn’t like in the end?
I finally had a concrete deadline for the project: my son and his girlfriend were coming down to Tennessee to visit for Thanksgiving.
REASON #3: FEAR
What? I’m not afraid of painting a room, or cleaning a garage, writing my novel, or ___ (fill in the blank with the project of your choice).
No, you probably are not afraid of the project. What we are afraid of is other people’s reactions and criticism.
Because of fear, we stick to things we can do and things we know will please people.
In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about fear as a form of resistance and not taking action. Although it is a book about what stands in the way of creative people, it can also be view as a book for everyone since it looks at why people don’t take action.
REASON #4: CHILDREN & FAMILY
That scheduled “to do” list can, and should, take a back seat when it comes to our children and our spouse. You see, life has inserted speed bumps to help us see what is important.
The rain has finally stopped and your lawn is somewhat dried out, BUT your son just remember he has a soccer game in an hour.
Speed bump –
The lawn will still be there tomorrow, BUT your son’s game-winning goal might not be repeated. CHOOSE THE SOCCER GAME.
The dishes really need to get loaded into the dishwasher and the kitchen cleaned, BUT your daughter needs you to help her with homework.
Speed bump –
The dishes can wait till later and maybe you can get your daughter to help after her homework is done. CHOOSE TO HELP HER, undistracted, WITH THE HOMEWORK.
Chores will always be there, but children grow up far too fast.
Chili is on the menu for the night and the ground beef is thawing on the counter, BUT your spouse comes home and announces that a mutual friend has called and wants to go out to dinner with the two of you. Dinner reservations have been made.
Speed bump –
Throw the ground beef in the fridge. CHOOSE TO SPEND TIME WITH YOUR SPOUSE AND YOUR FRIENDS.
REASON #5: LIFE
That quick trip to the store just took you 2 hours.
You started making dinner only to discover you were out of an ingredient.
That phone call you weren’t expecting from an old friend just wiped out the time you were going to use to scrub the bathroom tub.
HOW TO BE MORE ASSERTIVE (OR LIVE WITH A LITTLE MORE ACTION)
Your family, your spouse, your children, and the spontaneity of life cannot, and should not, be ignored or set aside while you work on learning to take action. Instead, view taking time to be involved with your family, spouse, children, and life AS actually taking action.
BUT, what about procrastination (speed bump), perfectionism (speed bump), and fear (speed bump)?
Those speed bumps need to be overcome, BUT HOW?
I have some suggestions, but realize that learning to take action does not come overnight.
- Give the task you are involved in your FULL attention. Most of us say we can multi-task. BUT, we get a lot more done when our attention is not divided.
2. Schedule fewer tasks in your “to do” list. INSTEAD, keep a “got done” list. Sometimes it is easier to write down tasks that we finish, especially the ones we don’t like to do rather than seeing them on a “to do” list. When days get overwhelming and projects seem to loom on forever, I use the “got done” list. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, especially when pieces of a project take longer than initially expected.
3. Realize that NOTHING is perfect. Work on that project and do your BEST. This concept is what keeps me striving to learn new things. No, I’ll never be as good a violinist as Itzhak Perlman, but I plan to keep practicing to be the best that I can be. No, I’ll never be a master welder, but I would love to learn how to weld.
4. Think of criticism and reactions as suggestions from others. You are free to follow the advice of others, but you are not held to it. Make sure that you are the ultimate one you want to please with a project, and then, do it to the best of your ability. If you do something only half-baked, you will never please yourself; but if someone’s suggestions don’t ring true about the action you want to take, don’t follow their suggestions. On the other hand, if the suggestions sound useful, by all means adopt them.
5. Find a way to set external deadlines. It was easy to get projects done when I was teaching. The deadlines were set for me by the department, the principal, and the district. Lesson plans submitted on Mondays. Grades entered into the computer by Fridays. Now that I’ve been retired from teaching for three years and have ventured into writing and blogging as a new career I find that I don’t do well with internal deadlines. Setting external deadlines helps. I look for contests with specific deadlines. I use Google calendar with reminders. I post the deadline where I see it every day.
Take a deep breath and start taking some form of action today.
Thanks for reading.