I opened a fortune cookie the other day and the fortune read ‘The thought that leads to no action is not thought—it is dreaming.’
I often read these fortunes and throw them away. They’re silly, obvious, and seemingly for the slow-of-mind. Of course, we say, thoughts that don’t lead to action remain dreams! Who would need this reminder?
The truth is: everyone.
We imagine the truth is simple, yet it is frequently obscure.
Philosophers, leaders, and great individuals across time and space have all spoken to the point of action in different ways.
Confucius said, “he who will not economize will have to agonize.”
Albert Einstein, “nothing happens until something moves.”
Wayne Gretzky, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
How many times have you had a reoccurring thought and you tell yourself, yeah, I’ll get to that one day, and then never do? Once a month? Once a week?
I could take a guess at the excuses you make for yourself. They would likely be the same excuses I’ve made. I want a raise, but this week is busy. I’ll ask next week. I want my co-worker to help me with this project, but she looks occupied. I can handle it myself. I want my parents and friends to speak to me differently, but they’ll never learn. I can talk to them about it later. I want to start that new hobby or project, but it’s late and I’m tired. I’ll get to it on a free weekend. I want to work out and be healthier, but there is a pie in front of me and I LOVE pie. I’ll start the regiment tomorrow.
Nothing ever came out of these excuses. They didn’t help me—they hurt me. I would push back the thoughts in my mind and slowly, my fear became bigger and bigger. I’m the only person who’s going to accomplish what I want to do. I’m the only person with 100% of my own interest in mind. I’m the only person who is going to create a life with my vision.
I’m the first person who can come to my own rescue from discomfort. It is a discomfort within comfort and complacency. It is the discomfort you feel when you watch a second movie on a Saturday afternoon when your clothes needed to be folded last week. It’s the discomfort you feel when you tell yourself you’ll scroll through social media for 10 minutes before writing that proposal your boss asked for by tomorrow, and you finish scrolling after an hour.
I’ve felt it all before.
I WANTED to write a book for five years, but nothing ever happened until I sat down and began to write. I DESIRED a relationship full of laughs and joyous adventure, but it didn’t become a reality until I went looking for that special someone. I LONGED for a fulfillment with my free time, but until I started to write, research, and interview instead of scrolling endlessly through Instagram and Reddit, it was only a dream.
Mark Twain said, “action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
Lao Tzu, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Dale Carnegie, “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.”
We know that action is needed, nay, ACTION IS NECESSARY for our thoughts to live beyond the borders of our mind. So, which of your thoughts do you want to breathe life into?
How many times do you need to hear that taking action begins with you? Again, the truth is obscure. We imagine, well, if someone told me whenever I became a little too comfortable with where I’m at, that would be nice, that would be enough. The problem with this is that no one is in your head except you. No one can read your thoughts, know your desires, or build you a life you want. You need to do that yourself.
The formula for taking action is simple; limit the distractions. The process, or course, is harder.
In an age full of distractions, there is a daily battle for attention. I remind myself every morning with a post-it next to my laptop which reads, “act now.” It’s simple, but these two words conjure a hundred thoughts of meaning to me. They are a mantra of sorts, reminding me to focus on the important things in life rather than entertainment. A mantra to focus on long term goals over short term pleasures.
By acting now, I’m better prepared for the future.
Confucius said, “success depends on previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.”
Seneca, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Epictetus, “progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily.”
I became a person who provides advice for their friends because I’m constantly in action.
A friend asked me once how I create enough time for skydiving, rock climbing, hosting a podcast, writing a book, and still having a social life. I told him that I didn’t create time for each of those activities, I had to choose them over something else, although, I can’t remember what it was I gave up. Honestly, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with.
To the outside perspective, a person in conscious action seems like they create time. It appears like they are creating luck when they succeed.
It may appear so, but the reality was they took action on their thoughts, and they took it now. They turned their dreams into reality.
The person who is going to make your dreams come true is you. You can be the hero of your own story. You can start building a life you want today. Your thoughts are dreams today, but with action, they might come true tomorrow, next week, or next year.
If you want something, go after it; take action.
This is your daily reminder that it starts with you.