Motivation, Taking It On

Bias for Action- Part II: Tips for Success

In Part I, we talked about how to identify the bad habits we have created in order to avoid acting. If you haven’t read it, please do. I promised you next we would talk about how to actually have a bias for action. So, you want to know how to stop avoiding and start acting? For the longest time I wanted to know the same, so what did I do…you guessed it, research….but it wasn’t an avoidance tactic this time! Holy moly!

Would you like to know what I learned? Here are my top 5 tips for creating a bias for action:

  1. Like the Nike ads say, “Just do it!” Don’t give yourself time to think. When the idea hits- act immediately, don’t give self-doubt time to take hold. Sometimes taking action is just hard and it’s going to be that way. It is that way for everyone.


  1. Have goals and write them down. Put your goals where you can see them, if you can. This is good for small and big goals alike. A small goal may be keeping the sink clear of dishes. When you walk by your sink with a few dishes, you may be inclined to avoid doing them or say you will do it later. When you walk by and you happen to see your goal posted on the fridge to keep the sink clean, you may be more inclined to turn around and go back and do those dishes.


  1. Make a plan. Yep, planning is a great way to take action, but here is the deal…you don’t have to have every step and every action laid out. This is where many, including myself can take action and turn it into avoidance. It has something to do with the perfectionism bug so many of us have. The key here is to figure out what the first step is, and figure out how to take it. As other steps or ideas about how to reach your goal come to you, take note and add them to your list of ideas or plan of action.


  1. Make to do list, but not your typical to do lists. Either the night before or first thing in the morning, take some time and decide what your key tasks for the day are, there should only be a few, three or four at max. These key tasks should be items that propel you towards your major objectives. In The Productivity Project, Chris Baily, talks about how easy it is to get caught up doing tasks that really aren’t being productive.


  1. Take action on little things. You know what your goals are, and I bet in your list of big and small goals you have some little things you can address. By making yourself take action on the little things daily, it becomes easier to take action on the bigger things. This doesn’t mean little things like checking email repeatedly, this means little things you otherwise wouldn’t do. Little things that further creating new habits. We can sometimes trick ourselves with mindless tasks that make us think we are being productive, when we are really not.


And here is a bonus tip…


  1. Be aware of your avoidance tactics. Knowing what your avoidance tactics are makes it easier to notice when you find yourself wanting to slip into old habits. Don’t do it. If you feel yourself falling into one of your bad habits used to avoid, go to step one and just do it. Or like Mel Robbin’s suggests, use her Five Second Rule.


These are just a few ideas to get you started. Maybe you have some tips you can share on how you make yourself get moving and do hard things? If so, I would love to hear about them. Do you practice any of the above tips?  What are your thoughts? Do they help you?



Motivation, Taking It On

Bias for Action -Part I : What is Stopping You?

“The distance between your dreams and reality is called action” – Unknown

“Eighty percent of success Is showing up.” -Woody Allen

“I never dreamed about success, I worked for it.” -Estee Lauder

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  -Wayne Gretzky

Have you heard these quotes before or any like them? There are quotes like this flying around everywhere and I’m definitely guilty of posting them on Instagram myself. I won’t lie, I love these kinds of quotes. I love up lifting quotes, but more importantly, I love quotes that talk about taking action.

There is this thing that exists called a bias for action. Mel Robbins talks about it in her book the 5 Second Rule, as do many other authors. Basically, what it boils down to is pretty simple, stop thinking and start doing, stop dreaming and start …take action!

There are some people who are truly shining examples of what it looks like to have a bias for action. These people are the ones who blow our mind with how full of life, open to living, and how successful and confident they seem. They are doers. The truth is anyone can be a doer. We may not all end up living a life as wildly successful and exciting as Sir Richard Branson, for example, but we can have a rich full life. The key is having a bias for action. Want to know how?

First off, what we need to do is identify the things we are using to avoid taking action. We all have ways to avoid the hard things and even the not so hard things in life. We all know we do it. We avoid things we just don’t want to do. The more we do this the more we move away from having a bias toward action. That is why it is important to identify your methods for avoiding. Here is a list of several common ones, many of which I am or have been guilty of myself.

Research. I can research like nobody’s business. It’s amazing the information I can gather and ultimately do little with it. You may not think this is a common one, but how often are you on Pinterest? How many items did you pin to cook for dinner last night? Maybe cooking isn’t your thing, but I bet there is something you like to do and I’m willing to bet you have found yourself getting lost in looking for information or ideas on the subject versus actually doing. Maybe sports are your things, how many articles did you read about your sports team and their stats, where did that get you?

Over Planning. Granted writing down a plan can be a form of action, but you can’t plan, re-plan, fix the plan, and repeat over and over. At some point, what you are doing is called avoiding. A plan is meant to be an estimated course of action that is honed over time, it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Excuses. Oh, I can’t work on that today, I really need to “insert numerous excuses here.” I can come up with a thousand ways to avoid. Let’s not even talk about the numerous excuses I can come up with for not going to the gym. Excuses are little lies that we tell ourselves and others and we often know it when we are doing it, but do it anyways. When it comes to excuses there are two main reasons we do it, we either really don’t want to do whatever it is or we are scared.

Overthinking. I can overthink things to the point that I’ve missed the window of opportunity. It’s amazing how many times I can talk myself in and out of something in a five-minute time span. I do it all the time. The longer you think about something the more excuses you are going to come up with to not do it. Fear is going to slowly sneak in and before you know it…fear has won and you are right where you started- nowhere.

Mindless Tasks. How often do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, E-mail? Or how about binge watching Netflix? Ok, I still do that one sometimes… Yes, we all need down time, but how much is it us really doing these tasks to relax vs mindlessly using them to avoid doing what we know we need to be doing?

Lack of Focus. Sometimes we want to do too much. We take on too much, we are overwhelmed and end up going in circles getting nothing done.  Sometimes we can’t help but have a lack of focus, like right now as I write this my child and dog are making some serious racket. It definitely hurts the focus when every two seconds I hear “Pearly” yelled across the living room followed by the crinkle crinkle sound of some toy that sounds like a water bottle being crumpled up.

These things are a fact of life. Interestingly enough, avoidance tactics often don’t start out as avoidance tactics. They often start out as good intentioned tasks. Tasks that were intended to help take action or relax us, but over time they became bad habits that prevent a bias for action.

Have you figured out which ones you’re guilty of? Are they listed above? If not, share what you discovered and maybe it will help someone else identify what is stopping them.

Identifying the road blocks is the first step to removing them and getting closer to a bias for action.  Check back later this week for Part II of this post and let’s talk about having a bias toward action.

If you found this post interesting, share, like and comment below. What are your insights on the topic?