Motion vs. Action
Recently I have come across several articles addressing the idea known as “motion vs action”.
According to James Clear, who credits Steve Blank with first writing about the concept, “Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.“
It shakes out like this. Let’s say you are interested in learning photography. You research nearby classes, online classes, and check out some cameras. This is motion. When you register for the class and show up, this is action. Motion in and of itself will never produce a result. Taking action will.
Do you know that feeling of spinning your wheels? That feeling you get when you are burning through time and exhausting yourself yet having little to show for it in the end? It’s a terrible feeling and one that can mostly be averted with just a bit more thought and effort. Moving through life with mindfulness and purpose can help us turn our movements into achievements.
What is Motion?
One way to avoid losing yourself in an unproductive flurry of busyness is to think of motion as preparation. Preparation for a particular action or achievement is purposeful and deliberate. So, slow down and think. Know your desired outcome and decide how to prepare. Preparation, as we all know by now, is vital. As Louis Pasteur observed, “chance favors only the prepared mind.” Most of our goals require preparation. Thoughtful preparation. That’s why, for instance, planning your week instead of planning your day is critical.
If your goal is to return to school for an advanced degree, you definitely want to do your research. Carefully chose your specialty and seek out your education options and compare them. The trick is to not stop there. Don’t let the busyness of preparation trick your brain into thinking you have accomplished something more than just getting ready. Sign up for the course and show up. Now you have achieved your goal of wanting to work on your advanced degree.
Do you wish to be healthier? Of course, you should read up on what you could do to begin a healthier lifestyle. But what gives you bragging rights at the end of the day is the action you take. Maybe while you are in the process of formulating a plan and a goal, fit in a half-hour walk every day. Now you’re not just busy preparing, but you’re achieving as well.
Ultimately, what I think is the key to taking action and avoiding the pitfalls of motion is to slow down and move with purpose. It may sound counter-intuitive to think about slowing down while reading about action and motion, but moving too quickly is often what leads us to unproductive motion.
Of course, don’t be too slow. Here are a few tips to help you be a person of action and achievement.
First, create the mental habit of thinking about your day first thing in the morning. Think about how you would like it to unfold and what steps you can take to ensure your vision.
Second, take a few notes to keep you on task. Maybe jot them down in your calendar. Have some daily action goals and longer-term ones as well.
And lastly, reflect at the end of the day. Look over your day and compare it to your morning vision. Be sure to notice both your achievements and your missed opportunities for action. Feel good about what went well and resulted in action. As for the misses don’t get too hung on them, but note them for sure. The best way to improve at being a person of achievement is to know where we have missed in the past so that we don’t miss next time.