The Short Guide to Becoming a Person of Action Starting Today

by Henrik Edberg

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Image by notsogoodphotography (license).

.“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Leonardo Da Vinci

Do you sometimes feel stuck and unable to take action?

I do.

To get what you want out of life you can’t sit around wishing for it to happen. And wishing that someone else will do it for you don’t work too good either.

In this article I’d like to share 4 simple habits that help me when I get stuck in inaction and that have worked very well for me to go from a lazy guy who spent too much time on the sofa watching TV to becoming a focused and effective person of action.

Start your day in the right way.

How I start my day has probably become the most important factor for how much action I take during the day and how the day turns out in general. A good start often leads to a good day. A bad or indecisive start often leads to a pretty mediocre day.

So create a morning routine with breakfast, perhaps a short work out or a short meditation and other things you find gets you off to a great start.

Then add doing the most important task of your day at the end of that morning routine. That usually works well for me to build a productive day where I take quite a bit of important action.

On some mornings I may feel low in energy, unmotivated or have extra inner resistance to taking action. Then I start small instead of starting with the most important task.

I do maybe some decluttering or clean up a bit. I may do a deal with myself to just work for 5 minutes on a relatively easy task. Or if that feels like too much I make a deal with myself for 2 minutes of work. The most important thing is that I get started and get moving. If I do that then I will continue to keep moving forward.

Break down it down into small steps.

Work can become overwhelming and filled with negative feelings when you look at a big project or task.

You want to escape. You procrastinate. Then you become stressed because there is a deadline somewhere down the road and you are giving yourself less and less time to complete this thing as you procrastinate.

A big help here is to form the habit of breaking down big things into small, manageable steps that you can have done pretty quickly today and that will not give you anxiety or pump you full of negative emotions.

So break down a task into small, practical steps that there is an end to. If you have to read a book then break that task down into reading for 30 minutes. After you have read for 30 minutes check this off of your to-do list or just tell yourself that this task is done.

In my experience, it is very important to feel that you have finished tasks at the end of your day and to not have them hanging over you as you go home, spend the evening trying to relax and as you go to bed. Your mind wants to know that a step is finished – even if it is a small step like reading for 30 minutes – to be able to relax fully and to not create vague stress inside of you.

So break it down into small steps. Look at and focus on just that first step single-mindedly until it is done. Then continue to the next step and focus on just that. Do that and you’ll waste less extra energy on worrying and on your work.

Celebrate what you did today.

This is something I am still working on and something I can do more of. But it makes a big difference when I do it. You have to appreciate your good work to feel even better about your life and yourself.

So take two minutes out at the end of the day to think about what you can appreciate about what you did today. Or write down a couple of self-appreciative things in your journal. Have a tasty treat or a bigger celebration. Tell someone how nice something turned out or how proud you are over something important you did today.

Reward yourself for the things you did right today to strengthen your action taking habit. And remember to be kind to yourself for the things you may have missed or not gotten done. No point in trying to beat yourself up. No point in trying to be perfect. See what you can learn from it and perhaps try another solution tomorrow instead and see if that works better.

Take one small action right away to get the ball rolling.

What is one thing you can do to pretty much make sure that something will get stuck your I’ll-do-that-when-I-have-the-time list for a long time?

Read about something and get excited about it. And then do nothing about or tell yourself that you will take action tomorrow.

Instead, take one small action today, as soon after you have read about whatever you are excited about. Call up your friend and make arrangements to meet this Sunday night at seven to start working out, trying yoga or eating at the new restaurant.

If there is an exercise you can do in whatever you read about and it looks promising then do it today. If that feels hard make a deal with yourself to only work on it for 5 minutes.

If you want to travel somewhere in particular then don’t stop at a vague dream. Take a few minutes and look up prices online and then look at your budget and see how much you need to save or earn extra to be able to take that trip.

That’s it for today. Now get that ball rolling.

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{ 24 comments }

Hardeep Gosal September 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm

Thank you – I always get few key take-a-ways from each blogs. More importantly, my smile is always brighter while I am reading your insights.

My take-a-way from this : Take two minutes out at the end of the day to think about what you can appreciate about what you did today.

Cheers, Hardeep

Henrik Edberg September 15, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Thanks you Hardeep, that is awesome to hear! Nice takeaway, it is a good investment of time. :)

Aisha Quinece September 15, 2011 at 7:48 am

I loved the part about taking small action steps and breaking tasks down into simple parts… so true! Sometimes things just look way too daunting if I try to do it all at once. Like that old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Love it! :D

Henrik Edberg September 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Exactly. And before you know it you have eaten the whole elephant. :)

Christy September 15, 2011 at 10:56 am

Your right about sitting and wishing, nothing great will happen with that kind of attitude.

Youth Invent September 16, 2011 at 12:39 am

Thanks Henrick!

All tips were good , but the first one about starting the Day was the best !

Thanks
Aniee

Petr Mihulka September 16, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Great tips! My personal favorite is “Break it down into small steps.” In other words – eat the elephant in small chunks. Thanks Petr

John D September 16, 2011 at 5:28 pm

Thank you for another wonderful posting.

Taking small steps is so important. Too many people try to do too much at one time, get frustrated and stop. The small steps let you celebrate and motivate you to move on to the next one.

Celebrating at the end of the day is also so important especially for us who can be really hard on ourselves.

Gordon September 17, 2011 at 5:21 am

Great advice Henrik!
Start the day off positively, if the larger tasks seem too big, break them down into smaller steps, this builds momentum or gets the ‘ball rolling’ as you’ve said…eventually the plane takes off and becomes more and more weightless/effortless….its also normal to repeat this process all over again.

Jimmy/Life Architect September 17, 2011 at 6:18 am

Hi Henrick,

I am new to your site and am glad to have found you. Your blog is truly filled with great, simple and easily implementable tools to help us improve our lives.

The four simple steps you suggested here to get action going is very good. Anyone can do it. Personally for me, I find that starting the day well is crucial. I do my morning runs first which immediate raise my energy level. The next thing I find crucial is to classify my main actions for the day. I use Stephen Covey’s four quadrants method to do it. Very effective. Finally, I let myself get real excited with every small victory of the day like a comment on one blog, or finishing an article. To me these are little bricks that build my wall of success.

Cheers and hope to hear from you. Do visit my site if you can and give me some comment on my blog. I just started not long ago.

Haidee September 17, 2011 at 6:19 pm

love your positivity so energizing and inspiring :-)

http://haideeandco.blogspot.com

David Sweetnam September 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I stopped reading tgis blog for a while, as the articles were written generally.

However on this one you’ve spoken from experienced, with some very timely reminders.

Thanks, I’l re-tweet this one for sure.

Best wishes

David

Shellecia September 18, 2011 at 7:32 pm

Hi

I like the positivity reflected in your blog. I believe too in producing positive energey and I recently started a blog say-yes-to-today.blogspot.com. I am getting some new readers each day and like you I hope someone finds the insight useful. Thanks!

Geraldine September 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm

One of the best things about your advice Henrik (in this post and many others too) is the concept of breaking tasks, goals etc…in to smaller parts. That helps so much. Rome wasn’t built in a day right!

And what you say about acknowledging and celebrating our daily accomplishments, so true too. Something that can easily get lost along the way.

Thanks again, G

http://www.takeahappybreak.com/2011/09/word-of-week-nurture.html

ann marie September 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm

hey henrik,
it makes me feel good to know that i’m not alone in this.
procrastinating and getting lost in things like movies/reading/etc. is rather depressing yet totally addictive in a “comfortable” way,
and it’s good to realize the importance of going out there and CHANGING things in one’s situation through ACTION. which is exactly what i will do tomorrow.
many thanks, ann marie

Sarah B September 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Starting your day right is soooo important. I never realized this and kind of got into a rut of sorts, where it always seemed like nothing would go my way, wasn’t accomplishing as many things throughout the course of the day and just lost my enthusiasm.

After about a month of this, I decided one afternoon that the following day I was going to wake up, have a nice breakfast, say two nice things about the day, do 20 minutes of exercising and then do my normal daily routines. That next day I was absolutely amazed at how well the day went. It was like something had started all over, and I have been doing the same things every morning since then.

Ken Wert September 20, 2011 at 7:40 am

I love that quote you started with: “They went out and happened to things.” That’s the key to accomplishing anything in life. Starting. Doing. Taking action. Following through. Deciding what is wanted and taking steps to achieve it. Thanks for breaking it down and reminding us of the importance of action and how to best keep moving forward toward the lives we want to create!

Neil | Butterfield September 20, 2011 at 11:51 am

Great advice, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. The thing is to do something, anything, but do something.

sarah-anne September 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm

I’ve bookmarked this blog. I have suffered from depression on and off sicne my teens and have start my own attempt at an optimistic blog, though mostly for my own mental heatlh to make myself look on the bright side. I’m going to take some time to do some more browsing.

Barrie/Live Bold and Bloom September 21, 2011 at 2:08 am

Hi Henrik,
I love this post — because I feel that action is the cure for all that ails you! We often spend so much time in our heads, fretting about what to do or how we feel, that we get stuck in inertia. Action, even very small action, starts momentum. Then energy takes over and we’re doing something positive. I’m presenting a course in early October with Leo Babauta of Zen Habits called The Habit Course which teaches people to do exactly what you suggest for creating new lifelong habits. Great stuff Henrik. Thank you for your wisdom. :)

chip hambas September 21, 2011 at 4:14 am

I love what you have available on your website and am always interested in learning more about the being positive. gin.provenprosperity4all.com is something that I found extremely helpful and I love telling people about it who are interested in being positive and the Law Of Attraction. It is an Organization that teaches the LOA and positivity. Not sure if you are interested in learning more so that you can tell others what you have learned or if you want to enhance your life more than you already have. Keep Up The Great Work.

Chip

Bavinash Pillay September 21, 2011 at 8:20 am

This is such an awesome article! I really enjoy the starting your day on a good note thing. I’ve been using a vision journal every morning and just wrtie out simply what I’m grateful for and what I want to achieve ( yet I phrase it all in the present tense ) and it works wonders. The taking small actions was also amazing. Sometimes we look at the entire mountain and forget about the small rocks infront of use that we can use to get to the top:)

Love your blog! You can check out mine too at http://www.leaptofly.blogspot.com :) Keep up the awesome posts.

Haidee September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Love it so inspiring

http://haideeandco.blogspot.com

desiree September 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

wow! Nice tips…just continue sharing your positivity..Keep up the good work……

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