Moving From Action to Results

In the pursuit of our BIG goals, we often find ourselves at a crossroads: Should we prioritize action or results? While both are undeniably important, the distinction between them can profoundly impact our journey towards success.

Title Photo by Pixabay

Action Requires Movement

Can you walk? Well, obviously, some people cannot walk, either due to injury or other physiological reasons. But, presuming you can walk now, did you, when you were first born, stand up and walk out of the delivery room? Well, you don’t have a lot of muscle tone when you’re first born, so let’s say you lay around and rested up for a year or so. Then, when you were 12 – 14 months old, did you decide one day it was high time you got up and got busy, so you stood up and walked on your first attempt? My guess is that you didn’t do it on the first try. We all had to learn through many attempts — making mistakes, making adjustments. The same is true for learning any new skill.

Imagine you are throwing a ball at a target that is 100 yards away. Are you going to hit the target on your first try? That isn’t likely. But toss the ball and let’s say it goes about 30 feet. Now, you get to go stand where the ball fell. Throw again. This time, it goes 40 feet but to the right. The Universe rewards your action and you move to where the ball is. You can see that if you keep doing this, eventually you’ll hit the target. Each throw is rewarded. Your target doesn’t move . . . but you do.

In the pursuit of our BIG (Bold, Important, Gratifying) goals, we often find ourselves at a crossroads: Should we prioritize action or results? While both are undeniably important, the distinction between them can profoundly impact our journey toward success. Let’s delve into the dynamics of moving from action to results, exploring how each contributes to our path forward.

Action or Inaction: The Dilemma

“I have a firmly-held belief that it is better to do the wrong thing than nothing. Any action you take will lead you closer to your goal.” ~ Cathy Stucker (The Idea Lady)

When faced with a task or objective, the choice can be daunting. Action or inaction? Which is more likely to move you closer to your goals or objectives . . . or simply to complete a task or activity? Action? or inaction? Some, like our friend the late Cathy Stucker, advocate for the mantra “any action is better than no action,” emphasizing the importance of momentum and progress. Others adhere to the philosophy of focusing solely on results, viewing outcomes as the ultimate measure of success. Maybe, we need to do both.

I think most of us would agree that doing something is preferable to doing nothing if you want to complete an activity, reach a goal, or finish a job. So how about this choice: Action? or Results?

How do you know if your actions are effective? Well, that may be the wrong question. Instead, ask, “Am I getting the results I want?” If you aren’t, then it may be time to examine the effectiveness of your actions. Consider the quote above. Even doing the wrong thing can provide feedback, if you are open to it. Don’t mindlessly continue to do what isn’t working. Step back and reflect on the results you are getting. You may need to alter your activity slightly. Or you may need to abandon that course of action altogether and try something different. Look at your results. You’ll know.

Personal Perspectives: The Journey vs. The Destination

Our individual perspectives often shape our approach to action and results. For some, the joy lies in the journey itself, relishing each step along the way. Others are driven by the desire to reach the destination, placing greater emphasis on tangible outcomes. Understanding these differing viewpoints can shed light on our motivations and priorities.

For many years, I belonged to the “journey is better than the destination” school. From that viewpoint, activity is more important than the final result. “Don’t get hung up on outcomes,” I’d tell myself and anyone else who would listen. I believed that the reward of doing a thing lay in the doing, not in the result. The result was a desirable objective but the “real” objective was the activity itself. Thus, enjoying gardening was preferable to the harvest. Enjoying painting was preferable to the refurbished room. Enjoying the hike was preferable to the beautiful waterfall or majestic vista at the end.

In contrast, my wife, Rebecca (and I hope she doesn’t mind being used as an example) is a proponent of the “get to the destination” view. Most high achievers are. From this perspective, the enjoyment comes from arriving at the destination, not in the trip; from achieving an objective, not from the steps leading to the objective. Specific results, not specific activities, are the key.

And therein lies an important distinction. Action is important. Action is necessary if you want to get anything done, whether it’s washing the dishes or completing the great American novel, cleaning the garage or taking the trip of a lifetime. But results are essential. You cannot get results without taking action, but you can take action without getting the results you want.

Actions or Results: Finding the Balance

While action is essential for progress, results ultimately determine our success. Striking a balance between the two requires careful consideration of our actions’ effectiveness in achieving our desired outcomes. Rather than merely staying busy, we must focus on actions that yield tangible results and move us closer to our goals.

Focusing on results instead of specific actions is a great way to avoid what Mike Dooly terms the “cursed Hows”. Instead of getting stuck on doing just the right thing (which, speaking as a world-class procrastinator, is a wonderfully effective tactic for procrastination), do what is before you. Then do the next thing.

Imagine you were in a long corridor with numerous doors lining both sides of the wall. You open the first door, but it isn’t the room you’re looking for. So you close the door and open it again. Nope, it’s not the right room. This time, you wait a few minutes, then open the door. And it still isn’t the right room! You’re taking lots of action, you may even be “enjoying the journey”, but that room is never going to change.

Now, suppose you open the first door and realize it isn’t the room you wanted. But instead of opening that door again, you walk a few steps down the hall. There’s another door. You couldn’t even see it from where you started, but by taking a few steps, there it is. You open it. Again, it’s not the room you’re looking for. But since you didn’t get the result you wanted, you won’t open that door again. You take a few more steps down the hall and there’s another door, one you couldn’t see before. If you continue in this way, you’ll eventually find the room you’re looking for.

That is the difference between action and results.

Learning from Mistakes: Embracing Feedback

Mistakes are inevitable on the path to success and they also offer valuable lessons. By embracing feedback and adjusting our approach, we can refine our actions to produce better results. Instead of viewing failures as setbacks, we can see them as opportunities for growth and improvement.

It took me years to learn this, but I now live by the motto: Anything worth doing is worth doing lousy . . . until you learn to do it better. I like the story of the little boy who was asked if he could play the piano. “Don’t know”, he said. “I’ve never tried!” Most times, we don’t know if we have the ability to do a thing until we do it. And usually, it takes several attempts. I’ve learned though. I never make the same mistake twice. I make the same mistakes 10, 15, sometimes dozens of times. And because the Universe rewards action, I get feedback from each mistake and learn from it.

Action Requires Movement

Persistence: “Small steps lead to the goal BUT you must take the steps.”

Achieving meaningful results often requires persistence and resilience. Like a skilled archer adjusting their aim with each shot, we must iterate our actions based on feedback and experience. By continually refining our approach, we increase our chances of hitting the target and achieving our goals.

Action, according to Google, is “the process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.” Action requires movement. Thinking about action is not taking action. Contemplating action is not taking action. Reading about action is not taking action. Watching a video about action is not taking action. A major component of action is movement. Running, walking, writing, calling, throwing, picking up, setting down, carrying, researching . . . these are actions, along with a host of others.

The question is this: Is the running, walking, writing, calling, throwing, picking up, setting down, carrying, researching, etc., that you’re doing getting you closer to your BIG goal? “There is nothing so useless,” said Peter Drucker, “as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Are the actions you are performing providing the results you desire? Otherwise, as the saying goes, it’s like straightening up the deck chairs on the Titanic.

action to results

10 Things You Can Do Right Now To Embrace Movement

“You cannot change anything in your life with intention alone, which can become a watered-down, occasional hope that you’ll get to tomorrow. Intention without action is useless.” ~ Caroline Myss

Sometimes we get confused about what taking action means. A look at someone’s “to-do” list might show such things as:

Go to the gym.
Plan vacation trip.
Billy’s birthday.
Employee reviews.

Most of these are not “actions”. An action is a discrete, physical step toward a desired outcome. Remember, action requires movement. An action for “plan vacation trip” is “Call travel agent.” For Billy’s birthday, “shop for gift”. For employee reviews, “get forms from HR”. Get the idea?

Here are some specific next actions for your consideration. If you’re stuck on a particular goal or task, use these suggestions to help you determine what your next action is. That step may be the one to move you to achievement.

  • Research a problem, a question, or an area where you need more information.
  • Call someone (that travel agent, your boss, your mother, a friend or adviser, etc.).
  • Ask for help.
  • E-mail someone.
  • Brainstorm ideas or solutions.
  • Write (a list, a report, a letter, an article, a book, etc.).
  • Read a magazine article, a book, a report.
  • Draft a proposal, a procedure, a policy (or something that doesn’t begin with the letter “p”).
  • Buy (or otherwise procure) material or tools or other items you need to begin or complete a task or project.
  • Register for a class or other training.

Principles for Action: Moving Forward with Purpose

To translate action into results, we must adopt principles that guide our efforts. Taking consistent, purposeful action every day, even in small increments, is key. By beginning where we are and focusing on tangible next steps, we can overcome inertia and make meaningful progress toward our objectives.

Here are the principles for taking action – to achieve a goal, make a change, learn a new skill – to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish.

  1. Take some action every day. It doesn’t have to be the best thing, it just needs to be something.
  2. Small actions are better than no actions. If you can’t take a giant step toward your objective, take a medium-sized step. And if you can take a medium step, take a baby step. Small, easy steps move you toward your BIG goal.
  3. Begin where you are. Don’t wait for the “right” time to start, start today.

Here is an action step you can take today. Select an objective — a goal you’ve been meaning to start, a skill you want to master, a new habit you want to instill. Take a few minutes, right now, to list between 1 to 5 action steps you can take each day this week toward your goal. Then schedule them in your calendar. You’ve begun to take action.

Remember, the Universe rewards action. For things to change, something has to move. If you desire a change, move. Take some action. Today.

Moving from Action to Results

In the journey from action to results, every step counts. By prioritizing purposeful action and staying focused on our desired outcomes, we can navigate toward success with confidence and determination. Remember, the path to achievement is paved with action, persistence, and a commitment to continuous improvement. So, let’s take that first step today and move forward with purpose towards our goals. Turn movement into results. It’s another step on the path to embracing your Excelerated Life™!

Are you taking action but not receiving the results you want?
What is one step you could take today to begin moving in the direction of your desired goal?
Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

Excelerated Movement™ — taking right action in pursuit of your goals — is one practice for creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being, and a life of meaning, purpose, and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life.

This blog post includes research information provided by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI. To learn more about ChatGPT and its capabilities, you can visit the OpenAI website.

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