Act, or don't—the key to productivity

Filed under posts • Tagged: Productivity

Some decisions are really tough.

Especially those that involve challenge, risk, and the potential for failure.

As a result, we are swamped in doubt. Fear. Hesitation. Guilt. Frustration.

The end result is often an awkward stumble in no particular direction.

It seems so complicated. There’s so much to weigh up. How will I know if it’s the right decision?

It’s not complicated. In fact, there are only two options: Act or don’t.

That is the only decision you need to make.

That doesn’t mean the conflicting emotions and thoughts will go away.

But it does mean that they are all stories about your decision, not the decision itself.

The decision itself is binary and simple: Act, or don’t.

The stories will paint the decision in a million different lights. They will conjure up multiple horrendous outcomes. They give voice to the confused multiplicity within us.

They imply something subtle and unattainable: that you have to resolve each concern before the decision can go ahead.

This is a lie. The stories are unresolvable. Just as you fulfil the demands of one, another pops up.

That is the nature of the thoughts.

It’s not that we can’t learn from our reactions: we can and should. But our response to a decision has zero impact on our ability to execute on it. Our internal hesitation tells us a lot about ourselves, and next to nothing about the actual action itself.

You will never know ahead of time if it’s the right decision.

Creativity is unpredictable. You don’t get to choose exactly what to put out there, and you don’t get to choose who it moves. You release what you can and then stand back.

If it were predictable and risk-free, it would just be movement, not creativity.

Just as there are only two choices, there are only two outcomes: Succeed. Or learn. Either way, you have more information to move forward with. You will adjust your sails after you’ve pushed off, just as you always do.

Act or don’t: it is the indecision that kills creativity. It is the thrust into the unknown that allows valuable new things to arise. There’s no way around it.

None of this means the decision will be easy, but it does mean that its simple:

Act. Or don’t.

—Dan Bartlett
2 Feb 2018

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