“There are many ways of going forward, but only one way of standing still.”― Franklin D. Roosevelt
This is part-2 of the 2-part series on taking massive action. You can read part-1 here.
We have already discussed the following:
1. Ditch Analysis Paralysis and Overthinking: Make Choice Work For Your Massive Action
2. The Dilemma Of InAttention
3. Exhaustible Will Power: Maximum Impact
4. Become Unstoppable by Quitting Learned Helplessness and Ditching Excuses
5. Is an Ideal vs. Reality Conflict Preventing Massive Action?
6. Beyond Emotional Fusion
7. Deep Practice and Get Into The Flow or The ‘Zone’ to Take Massive Action
Let us move ahead:
8. Reconfigure the Thermostat To Take Massive Action: The Upper Limit Problem and Comfort Zones
“The Upper Limit Problem cannot be solved in the usual way we solve problems: by gathering information or replacing one set of information with another. The Upper Limit Problem must be dis-solved, not solved. You dissolve it by shining a laserlike beam of awareness on its underpinnings—the false foundations that hold the Upper Limit Problem in place. When you shine the light of awareness on the underpinnings, they disappear.” ― Gay Hendricks,
A programmable thermostat can assist in keeping our homes comfortable and within a comfortable range. Like an automatic thermostat, we get into our comfort zones while taking action.
When our life, income, progress, success and even failure get beyond the zone that we have automatically configured, we panic. We take just enough action or not to come right back to the zone of comfort.
Dr. Gay Hendricks of the book The Big Leap calls this “The Upper Limit problem.”
The upper limit problem happens when you reach intentionally or inadvertently beyond your zone of comfort. The flight or fight mechanism kicks into high gear and you may take actions to sabotage your progress.
Yes, it is possible to become stressed out with great success as it is with setbacks.
For our thermostat, both the upper or the lower limits pose a threat to the comfortable settings of familiarity.
Become aware of how the upper limit problem and how your preset thermostats work in your life.
One approach is to take small steps forward and incrementally increase the thermostat.
Small steps and consistent action add up to massive action in the long run. This is an example where taking huge steps forward is counterproductive because of the upper limit problem.
1. Become aware of your specific comfort zones and spots.
2. What brings out discomfort while taking action? Remember that getting past comfort zones involves more vulnerability and repeated discomfort.
3. Take small steps forward, and do not underestimate the power of small actions. Like compound interest, small steps add up and give you the confidence to take massive action.
4. Do one thing that makes you feel uncomfortable like volunteering to speak in public and so on.
Make it a habit to doing the uncomfortable and take action even if you do not feel like it.
“In my life I’ve discovered that if I cling to the notion that something’s not possible, I’m arguing in favor of limitation. And if I argue for my limitations, I get to keep them.” ― Gay Hendricks,
9. What comes first? Motivation, Inspiration or Action?
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London
Are you waiting to get motivated or inspired to take action in your life?
If you are waiting to get inspired or motivated to take action, you may be disappointed. I have realized that there will be many times in our lives when we do not feel like taking action.
You may not feel like:
- Getting up in the morning for the workout.
- Writing for an hour every day.
- Taking proactive and corrective steps in your small business.
- Making a change to that habit that is sapping all your time.
- When you take a small action regardless of the inspiration levels or waiting for the right time, you have mastered the psychology of taking massive action.
Brian Tracy calls this Eating that Frog first or doing the task that you do not want to do. For example, making the sales call first thing in the morning while you are still fresh and waiting for inspiration.
Make it a habit of taking action right now and not waiting for inspiration.
“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you’d like to act.”― Bob Dylan
10. Create Structural Tension For Sustained Action
“The path to success is to take massive, determined action.”- Tony Robbins
Robert Fritz is the author of The Path of Least Resistance. Fritz says that when we create structural tension, we are moving forward in resolution.
How can you create structural tension?
When you clearly know where you are at and where you would like to be, you create structural tension. This structural tension begs resolution and allows you to propel forward in your actions.
Fritz explains that like a rubber band wanting to return back to its original shape, structural tension also seeks resolution and moves you towards completion. It creates a state that wants to get solved.
For example, when the parameters and the beginning and end of a creative problem are well defined, you will notice that the tension created allows you to take action.
Undefined end goals are often like throwing things in the dark without a target and hoping they will stick.
- Define what your starting point is and where you would like to be.
- Identify clearly where you are at the current moment in your goal or project.
- Also, detail where you would like to be at the end of your goal or project. Be detailed.
- You can always have a new ending point once you are completed with this one.
For example, you have a creative problem in front of you such as developing a better light bulb.
Determine exactly where you are at: What you have currently, glass bulbs and filaments and other components.
Know where you would like to go: make a safer bulb that does not shatter and does not get as hot.
You have just created structural tension to resolve towards a solution. You may come up with soft materials that are heat resistant that do not break like glass does and do not get as hot.
11. Mirroring and Modeling: Visualization For Action And Success
Before you dismiss the power of visualization as some new age mumbo jumbo, think again. It is a well-known fact that championship athletes visualize many successful outcomes.
You use the power of visualization when you:
- Deeply feel the process happening in your mind.
- Visualize the step by step in a vivid manner.
- You can see the success or the action in your mind’s eye.
Psychology tells us that the subconscious or the inner mind cannot always distinguish between the real event and the deeply imagined or visualized one.
Why does this happen? One compelling idea is that the inner mind or the subconscious thinks in the form of images and not in words and thoughts.
Taking a page from Research from peak performing athletes and from his own work, Dr. Maxwell Maltz of Psycho-Cybernetics describes how this works. When we change our inner self-image and visualize a better outcome, we can see successful outer results.
Top athletes increase peak performance by visualizing the race or sport and seeing and feeling a successful completion in their minds. Some athletes take this a step further by visualizing many outcomes and getting prepared for any eventuality.
In other words, their muscle memory and action potential can improvise any situation into a successful one. This is a big deal.
Instead of making mental images of why you will fail, how about visualizing success?
You are strengthening the reasons why you will succeed and not looking for the reasons why you will not take action and fail.
Here are a few ideas to infuse your visualization with more power:
1. Imagine small steps towards completion of the goal. Make it vivid.
2. Do not just visualize the completion. Visualize the feelings and accomplishments while you are in process of the goal.
3. Infuse your visualization with the charge of powerful action through strong feelings.
The ideal visualization process = Inspire the self + Evoke a strong emotional response = Positive feelings and Actions that propel you forward.
4. Repeat the visualization process.
5. Engage the full spectrum of thoughts, feelings, images, beliefs to visualize and then take action on a regular basis.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” ― Pablo Picasso
12. Script the Critical Moves To Avoid Confusion And Take Massive Action
“An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox.” – Lao Tzu
I came across this idea from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath. The Heath brothers are well known behavioral psychologists.
In essence, you are making the steps to move forward very simple and easy to understand.
While scripting the critical moves you:
- Make actions into small and actionable steps forward.
- Avoid unnecessary complexity and ambiguity.
- Decrease the amount of choice by zeroing in on critical tasks.
- Make the action plan totally and completely clear.
In the book, Switch, authors Dan and Chip Heath speak to this issue of needing to have a clear and easy to follow action plan. This avoids confusion, analysis paralysis and overwhelm.
According to the authors, what looks like a resistance to change is often ambiguity or uncertainty.
When we have the lack of clarity on how to move forward on something, we procrastinate or make excuses and resist the action plan.
The example that they give is how two West Virginia communities underwent a major change in their eating habits.
Two Professors coached communities on switching to 2% milk. This is an actionable plan that addresses a critical move. Turns out that 2% milk has a significantly less amount of saturated fat.
The professors realized that the whole milk was the source of a big chunk of saturated fat in the diet of average people.
They understood that here was a behavior that could be more easily changed. It was better and more doable than offering a complex dietary solution.
Instead of telling them to “eat healthy” or giving them a pyramid with a wide array of choices, they decided to go simple and scripted a critical move.
The authors say:
“Ambiguity is the enemy. Any successful change requires a translation of ambiguous goals into concrete behaviors. In short, to make a switch, you need to script the critical moves.”
My example of scripting a critical move:
- Do you have ambiguous and overwhelm causing and creating lists with generic goals such as “eat healthy and exercise?”
- Develop more specific and simple goals that speak directly speak to critical moves.
For example, have a green smoothie today and walk for 10 minutes with the shoes and outfit that you have previously laid out = scripts of critical moves that are less ambiguous.
1. Write out your vision for 1 year. What would you like to accomplish?
2. Break up the vision into many small manageable parts.
3. Script the critical moves by making the steps to take action as unambiguous as possible.
4. Take the first part and associate actionable steps and actions with it.
5. Begin with the first action. Pick one thing that is the most important task and complete it. Then go to the next one.
6. Keep referring to your plan often to crystallize it in your mind and your consciousness.
7. Allow for the flexibility to change directions based on feedback. Give yourself the creative freedom to make things a little different and exciting. This helps you to maintain interest and avoid excuses.
8. Celebrate the little victories and milestones. Make sure that you appreciate your role and the role of others in your grand plan. Deep heartfelt appreciation is a wonderful way to stay motivated on your plan of action.
13. Take Action by Engaging The Power of Social Proof
“…for action is always easier than quiet waiting.”― Louisa May Alcott
One of the most powerful ways to get psychology on your side to take massive action is through social proof.
When you see that you are not alone and others have done tasks and actions that you yearn to do, you are inspired to take action.
Now the goal and the plan do not seem impossible. The key is to realize others are people like you and have genuine anxieties, worries, and tensions.
Robert Cialdini, the author of one of the most powerful books on persuasion, Influence, provides examples of social proof and similarity. Social proof has great power of influence over people.
“It states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct. The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior. We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it. Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.”
Among the several examples of social proof:
Canned laughter tracks in comedies of the past always made people laugh. Even though laughing tracks might be cheesy, when others laugh, we follow. Ironically, research showed that people hated canned laughter, but that did not dissuade them from laughing longer and more often.
Another example that Cialdini provides is of night clubs and discotheques. During the disco craze period, owners would purposefully create long artificial lines outside. This social proof of a waiting line was like sales people telling the stories of happy and satisfied customers and was effective in pulling crowds in.
Yet another example comes from the legendary psychologist Albert Bandura.
Bandura used social proof to get rid of phobias in children. Children with phobias of dogs watched a little happy boy play with a friendly dog for 20 minutes a day.
By the 5th day, 67% of phobic children wanted to climb into a playpen with a friendly dog. They wanted to pet the dog and were not even scared to be alone with the dog. This effect remained firmly in place even after a month after the phobia was gone.
Even watching TV clips of other children playing with dogs seemed to work in eliminating the phobia.
When you see someone similar to you taking massive action, it inspires you to follow.
Being in the company of excuse makers and people who hate taking prompt action may eventually promote a similar response.
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” – Maya Angelou
14. Triggers That Work For Taking Habitual Action
“Just like the first breath of life, any engine must be triggered in order to turn it on.” ― Toba Beta
MIT neuroscientist Ann M. Graybiel’s work has shown that habits can be broken into three parts that make a loop.
The loop consisting of a trigger or a cue, an automatic action sequence and a reward.
Often automatic and below the surface, triggers are powerful influencers of behavior and can cause you to take action or go cold turkey.
Identify the triggers that cause you to take massive action and become wary of the ones that de-energize you.
Triggers can be:
- Physical objects.
- Music or environment.
- A particular mood or emotion.
- A color or a pattern.
- A bright and sunny day or a particular weather.
Identify the habitual triggers that make us go into the non-action mode. Often we follow up on the trigger by making excuses. A reward inevitably follows, even though often it is buried from sight.
A reward can be relief or comfort from one or more of the following:
- Staying in the zone of discomfort.
- Not meeting and interacting with people.
- Not having to face uncomfortable feelings.
- Not having to deal with inadequacy and esteem issues.
1. Become aware of this loop that can influence behavior and trigger massive action.
2. Recognize the conscious and unconscious triggers that cause inaction.
3. What sustains the loop? Do you have actions or behaviors that you engage in that support the inaction?
4. What are the rewards? By altering the response to the rewards and offering yourself alternate rewards for action, you have made a powerful change.
Have your running shoes and clothes by your bed, and a poster that inspires you in your room, and you are setting up triggers or cues that motivate you towards taking action that you desire.
Remind yourself of the intrinsic reward of how great you feel after you finish the activity. Offer yourself extrinsic motivators such as watching your favorite program if you complete an action. When you have clearly identified actions and rewards, moving forward becomes a lot easier.
What if none of the above tips or other attempts on taking action work for you? And you are still not taking massive action on your dreams and goals.
It may just be time for you to reexamine your goals and dreams and reconfigure them to fit your life better.
If you are simply unable to take any form of action, the problem may lie deeper and you do not have any intention or desire to carry through. You will need to answer that question for yourself.
In any case, I hope that you enjoyed this journey into the psychology of massive action. Let me know below or on social media about your favorite tip and if the if the suggestions are working for you.
“I know that I have the ability to achieve the object of my Definite Purpose in life, therefore, I demand of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.” – Napoleon Hill