Life is about balance

Do You Have a Habit of OverDOING It?

Life’s all about Balance… 

I’ve always prided myself on being a ‘Doer’ – I rarely procrastinate, I make decisions and I get things done. 

I have extensive ‘to do’ lists and I definitely enjoy the dopamine hit when I tick tasks off my list.

I sometimes even create a ‘done list’ if I’ve been diverted from the ‘to do’ list and I feel that I haven’t ticked enough things off!! (this is actually a great tip for people who are working really hard and feel they’re not making sufficient progress).

Don’t get me wrong, taking action is a fantastic behaviour pattern for getting things done. It’s also a great strategy for overcoming certain challenges, for example:

  • It helps to process unpleasant emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, depression, boredom etc
  • Taking any action can shift you out of a rut of circular thinking or procrastination
  • It helps you gain clarity when you’re overwhelmed, confused or overthinking

However, when you take action through force of habit or because you’re addicted to the dopamine high, it might not be the RIGHT action for that particular situation. This can be inefficient and incredibly frustrating for everyone involved. Indeed this can be an enormous de-motivator for your team if you are driving inappropriate actions.

By example

In my first career, as an accountant at PwC, we often used to spend almost half of the project budget on planning. As a ‘doer’ this was quite challenging as I just wanted to get going!

However, every time I did this, the project was more efficient, the team were better informed and motivated, we had a far better understanding of the business and we built better relationships with the client staff. 

So how can you temper an urge to DO?

Life isn’t like planning a project, and let’s be realistic, getting a ‘doer’ to think about every decision or action wouldn’t work either.

However, we do have a tool that, for most, is massively underused…and used more intentionally will reap enormous rewards in time, effort and results.

That tool is our EMOTIONS

So next time you feel that urge to take action:

  • Pause
  • Notice the emotions at play – an urge to ‘do’ or guilt if you are ‘not doing’ can be a telling sign that it’s the need to act that is driving you  
  • Be clear on what you are trying to achieve 
  • Explore all possible options to achieve your objectives (if possible use a non-action taker as a sounding board)
  • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable if the RIGHT action is to do nothing
And finally…

Remember we are human BEINGS not human DOINGS.  

What’s important is often not urgent, but urgency triggers anxiety and stress, unpleasant emotions that we want to fix.

How do we fix these unpleasant emotions? 

We ‘do’ something to relieve what we think is the cause of that unpleasant emotion.

This relieves the short term stress. However, it won’t achieve the long term objectives associated with life success and self-fulfilment. 

A metaphor as a reminder…

Imagine two boats waiting to set sail for a 10 week voyage.

Someone focussed on ‘doing’ might jump on without checking the destination.

Conversely, someone focussed on ‘thinking’, might be standing on the shoreline weighing up their options as both boats set sail!

The point is, life is about balance, and using the right behaviours for the situation.

Be intentional rather than run on autopilot.

It will have an enormous impact on you, those you influence and your results.

I hope this inspired you to reflect on your habits around taking action and create a new habit of pausing before jumping straight in.

Please share this idea with anyone who you feel might benefit from it.

Also, if you’d like some support re-designing habits or creating new habits, then please get in touch with me at [email protected].

As always, here’s to a life of success. Until next time!