As a young child, I remember being enchanted by my aunt, as she looked directly into my eyes and said with some drama and mystery, “Knowledge is power.” I recall being captivated by that pithy little quote and would say it silently to myself from time to time, eliciting that same sense of mystery each time I did so.
As I have grown older, it seems more accurate to say that knowledge is important, but taking action based on knowledge is where the real power for change is found.
‘Knowing’ is not the same as ‘doing’.
It is not the lack of knowledge that keeps us back in life, but rather it is the lack of action that keeps us stuck. Until knowledge is integrated and put into practice, it is powerless.
We all ‘know’ that exercise and good nutrition are important for our physical well-being. We agreeably nod when hearing someone talk about the psychological benefits of meditation. Every one of us could probably give a pretty good impromptu speech about the importance of getting enough sleep.
Most of us have a pretty good idea of how we want to change our life for the better, and yet, without action the chances of change remain quite small.
When it comes to change in some aspect of our life, the agent of change is going to be some kind of action or behavior that is done on a daily basis.
Our hopes, dreams, and aspirations are important, but until there is some kind of action, those hopes and dreams remain just that…ideas. If you want to make a change in your life, it can be helpful to reflect upon what really matters to you.
What is it that you want your life to be about?
What is the underlying value of the change you desire?
If you value ‘vitality’ in physical and emotional health, there are actions that you can do this very day in support of living out that value. If you value love or connection, there are discrete behaviors that you can do today that will increase the likelihood of having more love and connection.
Once you are clear about the underlying reasons (values) for the change you seek, you realize that you care about doing something about it. This caring is the fuel for taking action, which is the agent of the changes you desire.
It can be helpful to create a statement about the new behavior you are about to take based on what really matters to you.
Example: “Today, in support of vitality, I will walk for 30 minutes and eat moderate portions of healthy food.”
Once you have identified the behavior that would be in support of what matters to you, ask yourself, “on a scale of 1-5, what is the likelihood I will follow through on taking this action?”
If you are at a 1, (meaning a low likelihood), then that is where you are. If you are at a 5, (meaning that you are ready to go) then that is where you are. Just accept that for the moment.
If you are in the range of 1-3, ask yourself, “How could I increase the likelihood that I will follow through on this chosen behavior?” (Hint: this will be some kind of action).
Could you chunk your goal down, and set smaller goals that would be in support of the larger goal?
Do you need to be more specific about the intention to change? General intentions, such as, “I want to be more fit,” are less effective than, “I will exercise 30 minutes a day, three times a week, rotating between walking, biking and lifting weights.”
If there are actions you already take as part of your daily routine, could you connect the new behavior with something you already do? For example, “I will drink coffee when I get up and then go outside for a 30” walk.”
Could you find additional support from other people? Could you hire a personal trainer? How could you enlist the help of others to increase your accountability to yourself? The other person/people can’t take the actions for you, but they may increase the likelihood that you will get into action.
There are countless other possibilities and the challenge/opportunity for you this very day is to allow yourself to come up with ways to increase your willingness to get into action.
Today, this very moment, you can turn up the radar of recognizing that there are a crossroads in every new moment. Each hour of the day, we can check in with ourselves and ask, “Will I take the path of action or non-action?” If we find ourselves stalling, we have another opportunity to cycle through the same process, asking and answering questions about the change, the underlying values and the degree of willingness to get into action.
Knowing is not power. Taking action in a committed way is the power to change your life.
Our minds have a funny way of sending up objections about the changes we have decided upon. Messages of doubt, insecurity, apathy, and fear will undoubtedly arise prior to taking any new action. No one in the history of humanity has ever found the ‘Off’ switch for these kinds of insecure thoughts.
A thought is not a mandate. You are not obligated to obey insecure, doubtful or fearful thoughts. Trying to get rid of those thoughts tends to increase their presence.
With practice, we can notice those insecure thoughts as they arise and decide if we want to be obedient to them.
Once we discover that these thoughts and feelings cannot stop us from getting into action, we are on the path to experiencing the life we really want for ourselves, first and foremost because we are dedicated to taking action in support of what really matters to us rather than taking those insecure thoughts seriously.
Does taking action mean that you will always be successful? No way. But slipping up can be seen as an invitation to re-commit to taking action in the direction of the life you want.
“Every day we are born anew.” -Buddha
When we wake up in the morning, we are given a fresh new slate upon which to write the story about our life which will serve as the blueprint for taking action that very day.
Taking action is power. Taking action is the key to transformation.
Change in any area of our life is a result of showing up and taking action based on what really matters to us.
How will you spend this day?