Movement vs Action: Understanding the Difference

Movement vs. Action: Understanding the Difference

I have observed that most smart people make a common mistake that keeps them from achieving the best results. And they often make this mistake without ever realizing it.

This mistake is to do with their ability to differentiate between movement and action!

It is important for you to understand that being in motion is not the same as taking action. These terms may sound similar, but they are definitely not the same when it comes to your productivity. Let me explain why…

Movement vs. Action

When you are moving, you are only strategizing or planning. These are, of course, good things. But, do they produce the best result?

Unfortunately no!

Action, on the contrary, is the type of behavior that delivers the desired outcomes. This is why; you need to take action and not just be in motion. Because just moving about can only make you feel you are busy. It may or may not result in higher productivity. Here are some examples that will help you get a better idea of why movement is different from action…

Why Is Movement Different From Action?

         •        When I search for a healthy diet plan and read books on this topic, that’s movement. And if I actually start eating healthy meals, that’s action.

         •        If I have around 20 ideas for articles to write, that’s movement. And if I actually write an article and publish it, that’s action.

         •        If I want to send 10 e-mails to new leads for my business, you can call it movement. You can call it action only when those leads actually buy something and turn into my clients.

         •        When I go to the gym and enquire about getting a personal fitness trainer, that’s movement. It’s only when I actually step under the bar to start squatting that I can call it action.

I am sure these examples have given you an idea of why movement is different from action. Movement is definitely useful. However, it will not help you get an outcome by itself. It really does not matter how many times you do the movement like going to the gym and talking to a fitness trainer. It will never help you get in shape. What really matters is the actual action of working out.

Why Are Smart People Often in Movements?


If the movement does not always lead to results, why do most people do it? Smart people often find themselves in movement because they actually need to plan and learn more. However, more often than not, they do it because movement allows them to feel like they are making progress without running into the risk of failure.   Most of them are also experts at avoiding negative feedback and criticism. It never feels good to fail and be judged publicly. So, many people unknowingly develop this tendency to avoid situations where the risk of failure can arise.   And that is the reason why they tend to slip into movements rather than action: they just want to delay failure.   For example; even if they have this desire to get in shape, they also have the fear that they would look stupid in the gym. So, they take the route of movement and just go to the gym and talk to the fitness trainer.   Similarly, they know they need to land more clients for their business but also have the fear of being turned down. So, they procrastinate on the idea of sending e-mails.  
It is easier to be in movement and convince yourself that you are making progress than to actually take any action. It makes you believe that you have got some plans to get the results and that would be good enough for you at the moment.   In short, just having a plan makes you feel like you are moving in the right direction!   Movement makes you feel like you are getting your tasks done.

But, in reality, you are just preparing to get things done. And this preparation can soon take the form of procrastination causing you to delay taking the necessary action indefinitely.   So, you should not be merely planning. You should be acting on your planning.

Tips for Taking Action

Create a Schedule

If you think you are not getting to the action part of your plan, create a schedule to put it into action. For example; every week, on Monday and Thursday, make sure you write a new article and send it to the publisher.

If you plan to start fitness training, schedule two or three days a week for the activity. You can train on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Having a schedule for every week will take you from the stage of planning to the stage of action. This way; you are not just planning your workout exercises. You are also not researching any workout program. You are simply working out. You are in action, not movement!

So, for your ongoing goals and lifestyle changes, set a schedule for the actions and make sure you stick to it.

Pick a Date to Transition

If you are delaying the action, pick up a date to make the transition from movement to action.

For some goals, setting a schedule does not work well. This is specifically true for tasks that are going to happen only once such as launching a new product, taking an exam, and submitting a project.

These things need a lot of planning before the action. They also require a lot of action to succeed.

For example, you may set a schedule every week to study one chapter of your exam. But for taking up the exam itself, you would need to spend several weeks or months reading different chapters.

In situations like this, you need to simply pick a date to start the action. Put it on the calendar so that you are reminded again and again that you are going to start the action for implementing your plan on this date.

For one-time projects and goals, this is the best approach. You need to force yourself out of the movement and get into action by setting up a hard deadline.

Remember that movement will never produce the final results. Only action will. When you are in movement, you are only strategizing, planning, or learning. Putting your plan into action is the only way to get the best results.

John Hickey is an Executive Coach and Life Coach based in Ireland.

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