WHEN I THINK ABOUT taking a big trip somewhere (big = flying), I get caught up in the daydreaming, investigating, and planning. I love to check out different places to stay, what sights there are to see, and any adventures that await me. I get butterflies in my stomach and can’t wait to go.
That is, until, the departure day gets closer.
When my trip is in the future, I’m pretty darn excited about it. As it draws near, less so.
I’m a bit of an anxious flyer. I like to be the one in control, so putting my life in the hands of a stranger at the front of a metal tube makes me uneasy. However, I made a commitment to myself long ago that I’d never let my fear of flying stop me from seeing the world. My desire to travel supersedes my fear.
But how can I be excited six weeks out from a trip but super anxious when the time comes? Because sometimes it’s more thrilling to think about doing something than it is to actually do it.
Isn’t it much more electrifying to think about starting your diet on Monday than actually making healthier choices today?
Or to talk about all the innovative things you’re going to do in your business instead of hunkering down and putting in the work?
Or to enthusiastically plan all the logistics of a mind-blowing excursion versus facing your fears and stepping on that plane?
This is a little something I call “living in pursuit.” So what are the symptoms of L.I.P.S. (Living In Pursuit Syndrome)? Similar to a sugar addiction, there are lots of peaks and valleys.
Thinking, planning, and talking about the cool things you’re going to do gives a temporary rush, boosting serotonin, endorphin, and dopamine levels. Collectively, these are known as the “happiness hormones” (even though some are neurotransmitters).
Serotonin boosts your mood, endorphins block pain, and dopamine, the pleasure hormone, is stimulated when you strive toward a goal.
When these giddy guys are firing on all cylinders, you get a rush of joy, energy, and motivation. Talking about dreams and goals can provide such an effective fix that you become used to the immediate gratification of the rush.
So you talk about your plans over and over but never actually do anything to make them happen. Then, when the conversation is over and you’re faced with what you need to do to make them happen, you crash. Need another rush! Better find someone new to whom you can tell your plans. And round and round you go.
It’s time to break the cycle. How can you make your action muscle as strong as your talking muscle? You have to exercise it. (shocking, I know).
Several years ago, I traveled quite a bit both for business and pleasure. With each passing flight, the next one was less terrifying. Because I was flying several times in the same year versus once every couple of years, my courage muscles were in pretty good shape. As a result, my anxiety for flying was much less.
To exercise your action muscle, you simply need to do something that supports your vision. And with each “something” that you do, the next something will be easier.
Try the following:
- Spend 15-20 minutes brainstorming what steps you could take to make your often-talked-about dream a reality. Write down anything and everything that comes to mind.
- Review your list and identify how many things on the list feel totally doable right now. If you struggle to find many (which will likely be the case), spend another 15-20 minutes breaking down the ones you have.A great way to do this is to ask yourself, “What is one small step I can take towards getting this task done?” And when you have that answer, ask the question again. “And what is one small step I can take to get that step done?” Keep asking until you chisel it down to a step you could knock out in 10 minutes or less.
- If you can’t take the step then and there, schedule a time in your calendar. Consider it as important of an appointment as any other.
As I wrote a couple weeks back, the power of support is priceless when it comes to taking consistent action. It can be tough to do it alone because you tend to default to your old patterns of rush, crash, rush, crash.
To strengthen your action muscles even faster, consider teaming up with a coach or an accountability buddy. Having someone to answer to can be a real game changer.
However you choose to tackle it, if you find yourself talking and not acting, come back to your mind dump and repeat the process above.
Here’s to a productive, action-oriented week!Photo via Visualhunt.com