The Psychology of Thinking Vs. Doing

"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."

Photo by Nik MacMillan on Unsplash

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. — John F. Kennedy

Balancing thought and action will always be a challenge for many people.

Doing is carrying out a series of tasks.

Thinking is reflecting on what tasks should be carried out (Thinking in this context is different from introspection or making time to think about your thinking).

You can focus more on “doing” while retaining your motivation for “thinking”.

How much time should we spend thinking vs. doing?

With respect to goals, projects, and other to-do items, it’s easy to get stuck too long in the thinking and planning phase.

Many people get excited about a lot of ideas.

But unfortunately they easily begin pushing them further back on their to-do lists, if not completely disregarding them as being unfeasible orunreaslistic.

Research by psychologists Arie Kruglanski, Tory Higgins, and their colleagues suggests that we have two complementary motivational systems: the “thinking” system and the “doing” system — and we’re generally only capable of using one at a time.

If you tend to focus more on your thinking system, you will get caught up in a life of inaction.

What you want is progress, in life and career. And that can only manifest through action.

Results come to those who “act” while others are discovering the “right” ways to generate results.

Steven Pressfield writes in his book, Do The Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way,“Don’t think. Act. We can always revise and revisit once we’ve acted. But we can accomplish nothing until we act.”

It’s what you Do that defines you

Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. — Thomas Jefferson

Do what you should.

Don’t talk about what needs to be done.

Be a doer.

Being a Doer instead of just a Thinker requires an insane amount of discipline and commitment.

Doing involves risk but it’s the only way to make progress.

Thomas Sterner once said, “Progress is a natural result of staying focused on the process of doing anything.”

If you are not daring and focused enough, you can never get past the “thinking” stage of getting work done.

Stop thinking you are at a disadvantage because of your weaknesses.

If you really need to get something done, you will find a good reason why you have to pursue it otherwise your excuses will constantly convince you why it can’t be done.

Embrace the action habit!

Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. — Peter Marshall

Don’t over-plan and under-act!

Thinking and planning in advance is important, vital in fact, to your success but acting is even more crucial to long-term achievement.

If your goal is to write a book, talking to best-selling authors about writing and reading every book about writing a best-seller won’t make you a writer, but the only way to become a writer is to start writing.

Actions you take beat life-changing intentions.

Not doing anything is the same as intending to do something but never actually doing it.

Does it really matter if you wanted or really intended to do something, but ended up just not doing it?

Just thinking about something won’t do you any good if you don’t actually do it. Every time you put something off, it’s put into a queue, and nearly everything in that order of things to do may NEVER get done.

You can never get real progress if you don’t take action.

All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action.

Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small).

Thinking about doing is more exhausting than doing.

Actually, holding on to too many things to do without necessarily getting them done or taken action makes you anxious and stressed.

The constant reminder that you have something to start doesn’t help your wellbeing. Get started and maintain momentum.

Incremental progress is better than a list of perfect ideas.

Most things on your to-do list won’t be done.

Take them off your list or maintain the healthy habit of doing something about them everyday.

Being overwhelmed with many things to do and no sense of priority (no deadlines) usually means nothing will get done.

What You DO Matters!

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy. — Dale Carnegie

What can you do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving your most important goal on your to-do list?

As you think about this question, hold the expectation that the answer will be something simple that can be done in the next 30 minutes or less.

Whatever reasonable answer pops into your head, accept it and act on it immediately.

Get that simple task done as quickly as you can.

Sometimes you’ll flow effortlessly into another task. And you will experience the “first action effect” that makes it easy to stay productive.

It may take a little practice to use this strategy to consistently take action.

But the benefits are enormous.

Once you commit to getting started, momentum carries you.

Producing results builds positive momentum.

With momentum you’ll get ahead and make progress much faster.

Not only is doing easier than thinking about doing, but doing also gives you the ability to check something off your to-do list, giving you a sense of progress, engagement, fulfillment, and accomplishment.

Before you go…

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Originally published at medium.com

Creativity, Self Improvement, Productivity

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