A is for Action
Updated: Oct 21, 2021
“You do not write your life with words. . . You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” Patrick Ness
What we actually do from day to day, our habits, and how we respond to situations in practice holds much more significance than what we know, our intentions, or what we say. People often say things and make promises that they have no real intention of keeping, from a simple “We must arrange to meet up” or “I’ll message you” etc to expressions of feelings towards others.
Feelings are a good example of why things cannot always be expressed in words and require actions to speak for them. Words come easily, e.g. anyone can tell someone they love or support them, but the recipient will not feel loved or supported until the words are acted upon i.e. your actions must coincide with your words to have meaning.
Words or intentions are essentially meaningless, unless you determine to have the resolve to stick by them and action them. “I love you” is meaningless if you’re not being faithful or aren’t making an effort in a relationship. “Our customers are important to us” is meaningless if you are a business selling defective items, “I’m going to eat healthily” is meaningless if you fill your trolley with junk- food.
We live in an increasingly connected world experiencing information overload so it is vital that we take any new information and sift it intelligently in order to make intelligent choices about what we want to retain and implement.
It is impossible to assimilate and accommodate lots of things effectively all at once. We need to make small incremental changes consistently. Kaizen is a Japanese approach to create continuous improvement based on the idea that small, ongoing positive changes can reap significant improvements. The idea is that by tackling the easiest change we create the quickest feeling of success which will then motivate us to do more.
“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.” Dale Carnegie
Making changes and learning a new skill helps you learn things faster over time. By stimulating neurons in the brain, more neural pathways are formed and electrical impulses travel faster across them as you attempt to process new information. As more pathways are formed, the faster impulses can travel.
‘Learning something new in one area of our lives can trigger ideas in another. So curiosity and creative thinking go hand-in-hand.’ Vanessa King
As well as the obvious benefits to incorporating positive changes into your life, research says that people who learn a new skill are less likely to develop dementia and our natural desire to learn and progress also has a positive effect on our creativity, self-esteem and self-efficacy.
“Action is the antidote to despair.” Joan Baez
There have been a lot of words in my A-Z series and a lot of new ideas. It is very easy to think “Yes, that was interesting.” but for them to have any impact there needs to be action!
"It is necessary to combine knowledge born from study with sincere practice in our daily lives. These two must go together.” Dalai Lama
I often reflect on how I can balance all the interesting information I learn with actually incorporating the things I’m learning about. Creating this website, Reflective Resources, is one idea that stemmed from these musings. There are lots of advantages of sharing what you learn about with others; it can potentially introduce others to new ideas, skills or elements of awe and wonder etc and it can provide an opportunity to clarify thinking through discussion.
‘Practise makes progress’: Every time you repeat what you have learnt or find interesting, you also ingrain the concept or experience further into your brain and you are more likely to remember it. Following this train of thought, if you remember it, there is a greater chance that you’ll put new positive concepts into action!
On a practical level, sharing ideas and links also reminds me of what I’ve learned and I have an easily accessible space where I can re-find different things at a later point in time!
To benefit from what we have learnt and want to take on board, it is clear that we need to make a concrete effort to incorporate changes into our daily (weekly) routine and build supportive habits. It is also necessary to continue to reflect and learn about what we have chosen to include in our lives, as the more you think about something and how it can positively enhance your life, the more likely you are to put your thoughts and learning into action (and can more readily offer explanations behind your reasoning if asked.)
There have been four A-Z series so far. Here is a list of the topics as a reminder of areas whereby if you incorporate them into your life, you may experience positive benefits.
Affirmations, Action, Assimilation v Accomodation, Assumptions, Balance, Breathing, Boundaries, Busyness, Change, Character, Communication, Courage; Dare to be You, Defusion, Deliberately Developing Determination, Dialectics, Ego, Energy, Emotions, Ethics, Fear, Flourish, Forgiveness, Friendship, g.a.s.h. v G.A.S.H., Grace, Gratitude, Growth Mindset, Habits, Happiness, Honesty, Hope, Integrity, Interesting Imperfections, Intuition, Jars, Journeys, Joy, Justice, Kairos, Kaizen, Kindness, Knowledge, Laughter, Love, Lifelong Learning, Listening, Masks, Mindfulness, Mistakes, Moving Meditation, Nature, Needs, Neuroplasticity , Nurture, Observing self, Optimism, Overcoming Obstacles, Pay it Forward, Positive Psychology, Progress, Quality of Life, Quality Time, Qi, Quiet, Reframing Resistance, Resilience, Role Models, Self-Care, Simplicity, Sleep, Strengths, Thoughts,Time, Toltec Agreements, TrustUnconditional Love, Understanding, Unshakeable, unflappable, unruffled, Uplifting, Values , Vitamins A,D,E,K , Vitamins – water-soluble, Vulnerability, Wisdom, Words, WYSIWYG v WYSIWIWYTS, Xenacious, Xenodochy, Xin, Xin ru zhi zhi shui, Yindyamarra, Yin-yang, Yolo, Zen, Zanshin, Zwischenraum
(You can also use the search bar at the top of the page to dip back to any posts)
Nobody interprets the same information in the same way. We will be drawn to different things according to our circumstances. Likewise we will all have different approaches to incorporating the elements that we feel would improve our lives. Some will begin alphabetically, others will take the subjects that appeal to them first, whatever approach is taken we need to remember the concept of Kaizen and integrate things slowly and fully rather than draw up some super-timetable that we give upon after a few days – rather similar to many New Year’s Resolutions.
For me, personally, I have been continuing to work on 'Authentic Affirmations' and Breathing alongside ongoing learning and writing to clarify my thoughts. Exercise takes the form of walks as well as ‘manual labour in the house and garden’ and for the most part we do eat healthily though there is always room for improvement!
I understand the importance of rest and quality sleep but I still haven’t properly made the leap to having regular pauses as a separate entity of time i.e. not as a fix, but to just ‘be’. Everything I read is pointing to this being the next step, as I know I need to learn how to relax rather than always being busy so maybe I need to dip into S is for Self-Care first and Q is for Quiet again first ;-)
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” Joel A Barker
Some questions to think about/or discuss below:
How do your actions portray your beliefs?
Do you follow through with promises or do you have good intentions but don’t act on them?
How do we implement the practice of kaizen in our lives?
How much time do you give to self reflection about the choices you have for making improvements in your life aligned with the values you have?
What incremental change towards a better habit can you determine to do and work on now?
What new skills can you start or passions can you develop?
How can you share your skills with others?