This post is dealing with the way we can change our actions or behavior. It is related to two others posts which have been published on HumanBusiness.eu, which are how can we change our beliefs and how we can change our thought patterns. Our beliefs, the narratives that we construct about ourselves, lead to how we interpret and think about events which happen to us. This interpretation influences our behavior, our actions in that situation. The actions we take though could either strengthen or weaken the beliefs we have. Therefore, these three posts, which are part of the self-awareness phase, are interrelated and one should not be viewed without taking the other two into consideration.
Are we only our actions?
The actions we take are the result of our beliefs, how we perceive the world, and how we make sense of events through our thought patterns. Our actions are the measureable results. That is why we get judged on what we do by others so much, simply because only our actions could be observed easily. Our thoughts and beliefs cannot be materialized. Instead of only focusing on what we do, should we not pay as much attention to our intentions, why we do it, as well as, how we treat others or how we do things?
From outside-in to inside-out
Since our actions are measureable they are easier to access and to evaluate. We can easily observe them. But we need to take our beliefs and thought patterns also into the picture in order to make sustainable changes. Starting from the outside we can reflect on our actions to understand the effect they had on us and others to evaluate the result. Was it satisfying? Do we want to reach another result? Asking ourselves what we want from life can lead us to searching for other possibilities of acting. Once we are aware of other alternatives we again need to evaluate if these new actions will get us closer to our vision. In that way our actions will not be guided from our environment, but we are a result of our purpose (why) and values (how).
Choosing between two equally options
As the world gets more complex in a faster way than our mind can develop, we are often struggling with making a decision. This is because we cannot fully estimate the effects they will have on our lives. Especially when the results of a decision will take place in a faraway future, our appropriateness of decision making is getting less accurate.
However, not taking any kind of decision is even worse, because we would give the responsibility of our lives into the hands of others. But what option should we chose? – It does not matter. Our mind will adjust to the option we have chosen and we will belief that it was the better option anyway, as Dan Gilbert explains in the following TED talk:
Listen to your gut feeling
If we do not have an answer to a question or a solution to an obstacle we are facing, thus we are not able to come up with a logical response from our consciousness, we need to listen to our unconscious brain activity. Sometimes we can’t make progress despite all the reflecting and evaluating. We simply need to leap and trust. See for example where listening to his gut feeling has led Magnus Walker, a charismatic guy finding his path through life only trusting his stomach.
Don’t think, act!
“Only learning is by acting” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
By simply taking action we can change the perception we have about ourselves. This principle is called ‘do good, be good’. It basically means that in order to become the person we want to be, we must simply adopt the necessary actions. Already Aristotle stated that people acquire virtues by first having them put into action.
It can be relieving to stop (over-) thinking and just start acting. In many situations we simply cannot plan all the possible outcomes, especially in our increasingly complex world. It helps to have a direction to go to, but enough flexibility to react to unforeseen events. And trust me, being on an entrepreneurial path, there will be unpredictability. We also forget that we all have blind spots.
“Perfections spells paralysis” – Winston Churchill
Programming a habit in or out
By simply doing things we are challenging the stories we are told and mostly the narratives we are telling ourselves. We are able to program our mind with actions. By acting differently than usual we can change our thought patterns as well. It is possible to program a habit in or out through repeatedly acting or not acting in a certain way. On average it takes 66 days to adopt a new behavior, but of course it depends largely on the action you want to adopt. Drinking a glass of water before each meal obviously requires less time than responding with a positive outlook to external circumstances.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” ― Neale Donald Walsch
Do something you think you cannot do. Dare to do something different than usual. Try something new. Experiment and be astonished by the result. Most often we tell ourselves that we are not able to do something because we do not have the capabilities, the right equipment or whatever other excuse. We humans can stand much more than we believe. Our body, mind and soul are only growing if they get challenged from time to time. How can people run ultramarathons? Why are people able to remember more than 100,000 digits? How can a man find meaning in a death camp? Either we find solutions or excuses. How will we ever have an opinion about something or are able to judge it ourselves if we have not tried it?
What is your level of comfort? Find out with the comfort zone calculator.