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6 Things Holding You Back from Taking Action

Have you ever had a terrific idea that you didn't act on? Of course you have. I don't mean anything fancy, either. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a plain old-fashioned good idea which would have made you more money. But you didn't get moving on it.

Oh well.

I have a friend I'll call Julie. Julie is an independent management consultant and a deep, creative thinker. I have great respect for her abilities to understand her clients and develop unique solutions for them. But she isn't very successful. Her business is okay, but hardly booming--and certainly not where she says she'd like it to be. She works with interesting people--just never enough of them. And aside from soliciting referrals, she does nothing to increase her overall practice.

The funny thing is, this woman has more brilliant ideas about how to build her business than anyone I know. The problem is she doesn't implement any of them. Julie is just one of those people who stops before she ever gets started.

So much for Julie. What about you?

Do you have more ideas than action steps? Why don't you just get going?

I encounter this issue often with people who have tons of great ideas about what to do next, that never get implemented. And they want to know why.

Have you thought about what stops you from acting on ideas or programs that could bring rich rewards?

I have, and I think there are several simple reasons.

1. Lack of an inspiring, motivating purpose

Why should we do anything? Why indeed! That missing why is called purpose. Without a strong purpose the urgent things take over. The ringing telephone takes over. social media" takes over. The knock at the door takes over. Inertia takes over.

In physics we learn that it takes additional energy to break free of inertia. A powerful purpose adds that energy. Energy that organizes your actions, and brings the important things to the fore. To break free of the inertia of your current routine, you need an inspiring purpose.

2. No clear vision

Imagine yourself at a six-way intersection in a fog so thick you can't see a single landmark. You can't even read the road signs. Which way will you go? If you do pick a direction, will you be confident about setting out, or will you proceed slowly, hoping for the fog to clear a bit before you pick up the pace?

Everybody wants to go somewhere--at least everybody in business does. But without a clear vision you can't see where you want to go. And if you don't see it, you won't proceed aggressively and confidently on a course toward it-- whatever it is--will you? So even if you craft a plan--to take you...somewhere, you aren't likely to execute it. At least not anytime soon.

3. Not willing to make sacrifices or do the work

You already have more than enough to do, and whatever else you take on means something has to be set aside. Sacrifice means giving up something of value for something of even greater value. Which means there is something more valuable to sacrifice for. And you haven't clarified what that 'something' is. Or maybe you aren't sure that it is worth it.

In this same category I put: giving up free time, relaxation time, play time, or whatever. But it always comes down to sacrifice, and the big question is, is it worth it. (By the way, I plead guilty to this one. There are times when I feel I have something important to accomplish, I just don't feel it's important enough to get off the couch for. What gets me moving is reciting the litany of purpose: "Why did I feel it was important? And what will happen because of that? And why is THAT important? And so on.)

4. Lack of belief

If you are certain something will work, there is no risk and you will likely take action. On the other hand, if you are uncertain--and most things are uncertain to some degree--you wonder if the risk is worth it.

So what do you believe? Do you believe your actions will pay off or not? If you aren't sure, how much effort will you put into it? Will you hesitate? Postpone? Procrastinate? Go at half-speed?

Or maybe 'it' will work, in someone's hands, but you don't believe it will work in yours. In other words, you lack of confidence that you can get it done, and the risk is too great.

Each of these issues can be addressed by having a powerful purpose--and an inspiring set of goals to achieve. When these are strong enough, they make the potential reward that much bigger and alter the risk-reward ratio in favor of action.

5. Fear

Sometimes it comes down to fear. You have a vision and a purpose, and you think the risks are acceptable. But what if it doesn't work out? Then what? That's fear. It won't work out the way you want it to. What will you be left with then? Or even worse, not only will it not work out, but something bad will come as a result of it.

6. Everything else

You just have other things to do. Like what? Like the day- to-day stuff of running your business or doing your job. You can't just keep piling it on, can you? No, you can't. The question is, are the things you are already doing all worth while? Should some of it be delegated? Should some of it be dumped, or put on the back burner?

Once again, you must weigh what you are already doing against your purpose and goals. If your existing action set is effectively driving you towards your goals, there's no need to do more. But if you aren't moving sure-footedly in that direction, then you need to shift things around and make room for what will.

You may have to realign your priorities, and reevaluate your options so that your available time and energy is dedicated to moving you in the right direction.

What about you?

What stops you? Any one of these six things can hold you back, or it may be a combination of things. Once you identify what stops you, it is much easier to address and get moving. Now you can transform your ideas into an action plan.


Dr. Shekina Farr Moore is an educator and gender & social justice advocate. She is the Founder and CEO of B2F Girls Worldwide, a gender empowerment incubator that produces advocacy initiatives, campaigns and events. She has spoken out against gender oppression and disempowerment since 1992, penning her first published article, "Blocking Out the Gender Gap", while a high school student. This article garnered the attention of the National Press for Women. She is also the author of Beautiful, Big-boned and Brown, Blah to Fierce and co-author of When Dark Chocolate is Bittersweet: Controversy Within A Culture.

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