I remember walking aimlessly into a bookstore at the neighbourhood mall one hot afternoon and getting lost among the rows and rows of fresh books lined and stacked against each other on those shiny,mahogany display shelves.
So many books. So much knowledge. So much information. The original Google.
The motivational, inspirational section always fascinates me. The books there tend to be the priciest and with good reason: the demand for them is quite high! And this is where my fascination begins.
That so many of us are hooked on these books to the point that we live by them, study them and recite them to no end, the 'How Tos', '10 Steps towards...', 'Change...', 'Your New Life...', 'A Healthier' .....you get the drift..each hard cover or glossy soft print promising us the ultimate secret to the greatest wealth, career, profession, business, relationship, sex, health, body, diet, spiritual journey, peace and so on, to the point that as we get to the counter and empty our wallet we actually feel we are onto some great secret, something no one knows but us (despite 'over 1,000,000 copies already sold!') and we honestly, true to heart believe this is it, this is that pivotal moment when with each reading of a chapter and flipping of a page we will instantaneously become that powerful person we were destined to be.
Then some months later...? Nada, zilch, zippo...little change if anything. But we still buy the books, we still spend afterwards. We still watch the motivational stuff. Perhaps we feel that making these purchases is the same as making a real achievement in life? Yet, at the same time we have an inner sickening feeling that externally, nothing is really changing on a significant level. You feel me on this?
A Quora Post I stumbled upon by Nicolas Cole years ago answered this paradoxical state beautifully. Sample this:
What Nicolas was saying up there in a nutshell was this: sometimes, WHEN you buy the motivational book, you already have satisfied your need in the process. THAT is it. So, the impetus to do what the book says and carry it forward with discipline so that it becomes a reality in your life, is irrelevant. This is the tragedy. This is the genesis of the habit loop. Where you find your home stacked to the rafters with amazing books ( or your social media feed packed with great motivational content) BUT. NO. REAL. CHANGE. IN.YOUR. LIFE.
How do we move from this frustrating habit?
Let us understand what it takes to change this addictive habit loop first.
Firstly, one of the main reasons we, as humans we find it hard to move from motivation to action is this: our brains at a basic cellular level cannot differentiate between the feeling of wanting to do something vs the actual joy of having done that thing. In fact, feeling and not doing is a much better option for the brain because there is less danger of failure or rejection or pain, which it often associates with action. This is especially true when the action does not involve a life and death scenario.
The best way out of this? JUST DO IT. Do not think of the action and what it entails and whether you are ready or not ready, and whether you had on the make-up done well enough, or the social media account was not set up right and that your relatives or ex boyfriend will laugh at you...stop thinking all this stuff, and just take action. Action is the cure all. At the nuts and bolts section I will breakdown a simple formula for how to take action on a DAILY basis but for now, keep in mind that action is the cure all.
You can pray, fast, meditate, look at your vision board all day and repeat all the mantras and affirmations you want until you turn blue in the face, but if your actions thereafter do not align to your goals, you will NEVER get what you seek. Simple.
In physics (specifically, celestial mechanics), escape velocity is the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a massive body, that is, to achieve an infinite distance from it.
One of the reasons most people do not fully achieve their goals is because they have not developed the right escape velocity to propel themselves away from the gravitational pull created by a massive addictive habit loop; much like what we have been reading on earlier.
So, it is not then just about taking action - it is about taking Consistent, Daily and Impactful action. That is the only way one can develop the right velocity to train the brain to understand that feeling and achieving are NOT the same thing, that we must ACT and not just survive on a diet of motivational quotes, books, memes and instagram posts. Only then can you put infinite distance between you and what holds you back from achieving success. If you do not, the sheer pull of old habits will ensure any success you seek is short lived, if anything.
NUTS and BOLTS
Overcoming Your Inability to Act Using the C.I.A. Principle
Mastin Kipp came up with an amazing concept called the CIA - Constant Imperfect Action. It is very simple. It basically states that if you consistently take imperfect action, you will become successful and you will grow.
A lot of the times our best intentions towards self growth and improvement are hindered by lack of action, we saw that earlier. BUT even when we act we are not consistent on those actions, right? We are not consistent on dieting, going to the gym, reading, investing, praying...you name it. One of the contributors to this inconsistency is a need to be perfect. From my own observations, most perfectionists are just intelligent procrastinators at heart. I should know, I was one for decades.
So here is how you can use CIA to get you out of that rut:
- Have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve on a large scale
- Break that thing down into specific actions that can be done in a month, week, day
- Journal this stuff, write it down
- Tell people about what you are trying to do. People you can trust, who can hold you accountable and cal you out when you fall back on your commitment
- Start acting on that stuff you have written down. Today. Now. Daily
- Do not let the need to be perfect, look good or be the best, affect your action. JUST DO IT. What matters is that you actually took action.
I was talking the other day to a group of entrepreneurs and the main reasons they gave for not having a YouTube Channel/ Instagram page is that they did not have the right quality camera nor access to a professional photographer or camera man. Yet, they had mobile phones. And what is a phone these days but a camera that we sometimes use to communicate with loved ones?
Remember this when it comes to success: your greatest resource is your resourcefulness. Many of us hide behind the FEAR of acting so as to protect our ego and self image. We build complex reasons and brand that as 'perfectionism' (whatever that is) and stay in an immobile state for a lifetime as a result, never getting the results we truly desire from our existence.
- Be consistent in your imperfect action. You will get tired, you will doubt yourself, you will feel silly, the results my come early or take time to show up, but do not give up on consistency. What you strive for will ultimately show up.
Consistency is not just about being disciplined and standing out. Forget that. Consistency is about self worth and and being true to yourself.
Beyond that and on a deeper level, consistency is a way of retraining your brain to help you achieve the seemingly impossible.
Go ahead. Try C.I.A today and may you attain that velocity you need to escape the gravitational pull of mediocrity.
The author, Jan Okonji is an entrepreneur, speaker, coach, and Founder of the Pan-African accelerator BGS – Business Growth Solutions.
Jan is passionate about helping employees transition safely into entrepreneurship whilst turning their great ideas into profitable businesses and has helped entrepreneurs collectively grow their revenue to over $ 10 Million in the course of running BGS.
Get in touch with him and book a personal session HERE