1. Human Behaviour

Why Can’t I Accomplish Anything?

Last Updated on April 28, 2021

Why Can't I Accomplish Anything

Movement Illusion of Progress

Most of us want to accomplish something. But we never really get around to finishing it. Why?

Consider the person we all know (maybe you).

We have been (for years?) planning to start a business. Planning is doing something. It’s action. But is it going to lead to the result we want? We can tell others about our dreams. As long as we’re just talking, thinking, and planning we never risk failure. 

Consider the person who has been telling us about writing a book for years. The movement of telling others, outlining, thinking, and editing and refining serves a purpose. But, when that purpose becomes an endless circle we don’t get the desired result — a finished book.  

Finally, consider a person that wants to get a big promotion at his/her company job. They always strive to look busy. They’re busy but never get the result they want. It takes more than mere movement to get the desired result.

Movement keeps us busy with an illusion of progress. However, action for the sake of action gets us exactly nowhere.

It’s too easy to do “something,” anything that keeps us from finishing the main task — from accomplishing the objective. We usually feel that motion is better than inaction. The choice, however, isn’t between action and inaction. 

The movement offers shelter from failure. When you’re in motion, you feel like you’re on the way to accomplish something. We convince ourselves that as long as we’re in motion, we can’t fail. As long as we’re doing something, anything, failure can’t really find us.

Discussing our ideas, planning, and dreams will (we hope) give us the admiration and support of others. In a world that values action and short sound bites, thoughts like this are hardly heard and understood.  

Telling people that you’re doing nothing might result in disapproving looks. It is far easier to tell others that we’re doing something than doing nothing.  

Expressing an idea like this is too nuanced for most readers to apply. Do you understand; can you use what has been said here before you click to see another post?

The motion is easy. Getting results is harder.

Under 1% will take the needed action to join the 1%. Why? Reading. Learning and preparations are necessary but they are never sufficient for achieving results. The actions the vast majority of people take are often just tangential to what we really want to accomplish. 

We read a diet book instead of dieting. We take a seminar after seminar on marketing instead of starting an online business. Then, we confuse thinking, talking, and endless preparation with the end instead of the means. Are we just wasting time?

You wouldn’t be reading this right now if the people who made your phone or PC did nothing more than think, and plan without taking concrete action — building a physical prototype.  

Doing Something for the Sake of Doing

Doing “something” isn’t the same as getting results. The problem is that too often we convince ourselves that our only options are to do something or do nothing. 

We forget the third option. Instead of wasting time, take direct action. Want to bake an apple pie? Nothing wrong with watching a YouTube presentation on how to do it, but don’t prepare and think for more than say one hour. 

Then, put the flour, eggs, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix. Add sliced apples. Bake. You will end up with an apple pie today — not just the apple pie you tell your friends you are planning to make.

The next time you feel the urge to put off what really needs to be done, don’t do just anything for the sake of doing something. 

Ask yourself: 

What is the final result I want to accomplish?

Is what I am doing just going in circles or is it directly related to accomplishing the objective?