There is one lesson I have struggled with many times throughout my life: only through action can our hearts be fulfilled. A lesson that many others also find troubling. It is obvious and simple, yet a very difficult one to follow.
Lack of action is the number one reason people don’t reach their dreams.
Even after connecting to the heart and discovering your passion, following the heart still means taking action.
Blocks to Action
If you find yourself stuck in life, even after connecting to your heart, then it’s most likely a block that’s keeping you from taking action.
Among the various different blocks, there are three common ones that cause the most trouble: a self-defeating mentality, a lack of self-discipline, or fear.
Let’s examine each block so that you may be able to identify them.
A self-defeating mentality is the number one block people face. A person will give up before they even begin. People give up because following the heart can seem like a challenge that is not worth the effort.
When asked why they don’t do what they want to do, the first answer they give is usually an excuse:
“I can’t because…”
“…I have too many responsibilities”.
“…I’m too old/I’m too young”.
“…I don’t have enough time”.
“…I don’t have enough money”.
“…I didn’t go to school for that/I’m not educated enough”.
All of these excuses are invalid because they rely on external factors. You can overcome any of these excuses as long as you rely on your resourcefulness, instead of your resources.
Time and money you can always make; sometimes all that is needed is just a little organization on your part. If you need an education, there are many scholarships and government assistance that offer free money for school; but you don’t need a doctorate to open an on-line store, or to start your own trade business. There are many people who make six digit figures by selling a trade they have. No matter what it is you want, you’re never too old or too young as long as you’re alive.
There’s no reason why you should keep yourself from being happy. All you need is the passion from your heart. It’s your resourcefulness–not your resources–that will take you to where you want to be. (For more on resourcefulness, follow the link).
Sometimes it’s a little difficult to start following your heart because of fear you may have. It comes in many different forms and sometimes you may not be aware of it.
Perhaps you’re afraid of what your parents might say (or your wife, or your boss, or your religious leader). Maybe you’re afraid that you will fail. Maybe you’re afraid that you will make a mistake. Whatever it is you’re afraid of, you must face.
Without facing your fears, you will never grow in life. If you’re afraid of making mistakes, then what you’re really afraid of is learning. Mistakes are great learning opportunities. They make your life easier by letting you know what works and what doesn’t.
When it comes down to making decisions, you must trust what is in your heart because that is what is going to make life better for you and the people around you. Would you rather be around someone who has a stable job but is dead on the inside? Or would you rather be around someone who is full of life and is passionate about what they do?
Passionate people take risks because they know that they have a possibility to create the life they want. They push through the fear until they make a better life for themselves — that’s what makes them feel full of life.
It’s natural to be fearful. Fear serves the purpose of keeping animals alive; but it’s our affinity to risk-taking that makes us human.
Sometimes it’s fear of leaving the familiar that keeps people paralyzed in the same place for years because the familiarity they experience provides a false sense of security. One may think that by not taking any risks, one will be safe. That is not so. Staying in the familiar is the biggest risk of all because you will miss out on many of life’s biggest adventures. Adventures that not many experience because they’re too afraid to act.
Helen Keller summed it up best when she said “life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
Lack of Self-Discipline
The third common block that people face is a lack of self-discipline, or rather a misdirection of it.
Self-discipline is the raw power that you use to get things done even when you don’t feel like it.
When you use your self-discipline you are going against what you would normally do. By its very definition, when you employ self-discipline you are forcing yourself to do something that you normally wouldn’t do.
Everybody has self-discipline; some have it a higher level than others. If you didn’t have any self-discipline, you would do things that are not acceptable in society. You would be a victim to your own impulses.
However, there is a better way to get things done. Instead of using your self-discipline to brute-force a change in your life, use it to change your habits.
Habits will get you to where you want to be with very little effort.
Think of habits as computer programs that run in the background. These programs are necessary for the computer to run properly. If one of these programs stopped working, then something essential would go out.
Like computers, our brains are wired to function with very little effort as possible. Your brain is constantly processing a lot of information in the background that you don’t need to know about. For example, I bet you were not aware of your breathing until I mentioned it just now.
Unfortunately, sometimes bad programs that you don’t need may find their way into your computer system. Sometimes we develop bad habits that we don’t need. If you don’t become aware of them, they will use up your processing power and you will not be able to run what’s really important to you.
Without consciously choosing your habits, you risk running bad habits for years on end.
Biologically speaking, habits serve the purpose of making life easier for us. Suppose one day you’re out in the wild and you happen to capture yourself a meal. Your brain will automatically memorize that event as a pleasurable act. Next time you go looking for food, your brain will remember and replay the last successful event. It will do that by trial and error until it becomes a habit that helps you survive.
Habits may be a product of our evolution, but in this century there are too many bad habits that we don’t need to memorize.
Sometimes we let bad habits keep us from taking action. We may think habits like incessant cleaning, spending hours organizing email, or keeping in touch with friends through Facebook is going to be beneficial to us, but they’re not. I’ve been there and I have nothing to show for it. Learn from my personal experience and don’t let bad habits keep you from taking action towards what really matters.
Find out what is important to you and consciously choose habits that will help you create a life that you desire.
Habits are difficult to undo because the more you practice them, the easier it is to do them. Use habits to your advantage.
It takes on average about thirty days to program a new habit. Some habits take longer or less, depending on the level of difficulty of the habit.
How difficult is it for you to wake up at 5 A.M. every day? To eat a healthy meal? To not watch television? Use your self-discipline to develop great habits that will better your life. Find what you need to do and make a habit of it.
If you already know what’s in your heart, then start taking action to make it happen today.
Take action on your dreams every single day. Don’t let yourself be distracted. If you stop taking action–even if it’s just for a few days or weeks–the initial connection you had with your heart will fade away and the passion will eventually die. You need immediate and continuous action to keep your heart alive (habits are great for that).
Don’t let another day go by without living according to your heart. Believe in yourself, take control of your habits, and stand up to your fears.