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The One Mistake Smart People Make

The One Mistake Smart People Make


Smart people make mistakes? Hell yes they do.  This may have seemed like a clickbait title, but there is something that smart people do erroneously when it comes to productivity.  Smart people will often confuse motion for action, and spend too much time on the former.


WTF is “Motion”?


Motion is simply spinning wheels.  Don’t get me wrong; motion is definitely useful and necessary.  Motion falls under strategy, planning, and learning.  Motion will not actually produce a result or deliver an outcome like action does.  Motion is searching for a new car to buy, trying to find a new nutrition plan to follow, or generate new leads for your business.  I’ll take myself for example: I’m the furthest from impulsive.  Any of my close friends know that if I choose to buy or invest in some kind of plan I have already conducted dozens (or even hundreds) of hours researching the best product or plan.  It’s absolutely absurd.  I’ll spend 20 hours researching my next wallet.  A wallet. The thing that holds cards and money.


Why We Spend Too Much Time in Motion


If it doesn’t actually lead to outcome or results, why are we spending too much time in motion?  Many times we DO need to plan and learn.  But we often do it (or do it too much) in order to make us feel like we are actually making progress without making a mistake or failing.  I’m afraid to make the wrong purchase or decision on things, and that’s why I spend way too much time researching: I want to be sure I made the right decision.  I fear that I’ll make the wrong choice.  We want to avoid criticism or negative judgement.  We can’t fail if we don’t make an actual decision or finish a task.  So when we are looking for a new car to buy, we’ll simply do a ton of internet searching on various models instead of actually test driving a few to pick one in the same day.  We’ll e-mail potential clients instead of asking for the sale, or look up healthy recipes instead of actually starting the nutrition plan.  All we are doing is PREPARING to get something done.  Preparation will turn into procrastination.  We want to plan instead of practice.


So How Do We Take More Action?


We schedule action.  If I’m starting a new nutrition plan, I’m going to prep my meals on Monday and Thursday.  I’m literally going to write down on a calendar the days that I plan to meal prep.  If I’m starting a new strength and conditioning cycle, I’m going to write down exactly which days are strength and skill days, and which days are conditioning-focused.  My days for publishing e-mails like this are Mondays and Thursdays, since I’m free in the afternoons.  If it’s a one-off event that will take a long time to finish, set dates weekly that allocate time to work on it and an actual date that the task must be finished.


Motion vs. Action is written by James Clear in his Best-Selling book Atomic Habits.