Aligning What We Think with What We Do

Two metal balls balancing at each end of seesawIf you're "behind," then "don’t try to eat the entire elephant in one bite."

By Bill Reeb

Look for disconnects between what you think and do. And when you find yourself taking an action that contradicts the way you have been thinking, take a moment to figure out why there is a disconnect.

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When your actions and thoughts are not in congruence, know that you are setting yourself up to get stuck. Doesn’t it make sense that a major source of dissatisfaction can occur anytime you are thinking one way yet acting another? If we can’t be honest with ourselves, how can we ever expect to know who we really are and what is really important to us?

This is simply about building consistency and trust into the way each of us make decisions and live our lives.

For example, it is pretty common for overachievers to tell me that they want to stop working so hard and allocate some time to get into better shape. But many continue working all hours of the day and evening, and then go home, go to bed and do it all over again. Clearly, there is a conflict between what is being said to me and what the clients are actually doing.

Now it could be that the clients wish to be in better shape but don’t want to do the work, so there really isn’t a disconnect. But for some, they are genuinely torn. Some overachievers are almost obsessive-compulsive about their work and they don’t know how to turn that part of themselves off. It is as if they almost have to become obsessive about something else to make the transition.

So, if this sounds like you, whatever it is that you want to do that you are not doing, don’t try to eat the entire elephant in one bite. Take a baby step. If you want to get in better shape and you are struggling to make the change, start by doing situps or something for five minutes in the morning – just five minutes. Maybe add something else, like a few pushups, several weeks later. Build on incremental success. But don’t try to make up for lost time or achieve a month’s worth of strengthening in three days. If you do, all that is likely to happen is that you are going to hurt yourself and quickly be back to doing nothing again.

If you still are having trouble making the change you want, find yourself a support group either close to home or between work and home (for convenience) to help you stay on track. For me, the martial arts school fills this role because classes start at a specific time so I have to plan around them. As well, I have friends at the school I look forward to seeing and training with. When I am scheduled to teach, I need to show up because I have a job to do. As a workaholic, without this type of regimen, I would work each day fully intending to work out each evening, with each evening ending the same way – an unhealthier Bill.

The point is ... when you find inconsistencies, address them as they arise, and either replan or reprioritize how you are spending your time. The more quickly you can align what you are thinking with what you are doing, the more efficient your work, the more effective your effort and the more rapid the accomplishment of your desired results. And just as important, resolving inconsistencies is a great way to avoid feeling unhappy or unsuccessful about whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

Assess yourself on aligning what you think with what you do. Circle how you feel you are doing. On this subject, I:

  • Need a lot of work
  • Need a little work
  • Am okay
  • Feel good where I am

What actions am I taking today that are inconsistent with what I think? What do I think that I never do? What steps can I take to align these inconsistencies and start making progress toward what is important to me?

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