Over the years, I have made two seemingly opposite mistakes.

I have acted without thinking and I have thought too much about my doing.

Sometimes, I just want to get something done. I bull through a task only to find myself frustrated. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have the skills necessary. At other times, I got into a task and ran out of time or energy. Both left me dazed and wondering what went wrong.

When I don’t think about doing, I haven’t clarified my actions. I haven’t ask pertinent questions such as:

What am I really trying to accomplish?

  • Am I the right person for the job?
  • Do I have the time right now? Does it demand immediate attention?
  • What do I need to get me started? (Many times, a little research will save much time!)

When I do without thinking, the task suffers and self-doubt can overtake me.

But the second mistake is just as damaging. I overthink what I need to do.

For me, this is the classic form of procrastination. I require everything to be “just right” before I begin. I need the latest gizmo, a new pen, a better pad of paper, a particular kind of software, etc. before I can really get it done. When I dwell on what is constantly in my way, I find good excuses for not acting.

Living demands two things. First, think through what you are going to do. But second, once you get clear, get moving. Nothing gets done while thinking about it. Preparing to get ready to do is not doing.

The archer faces the target with the precise sequence of “ready, aim, fire.” That sequence is gets results. It is true whether preparing a presentation, taking a trip, or mowing the lawn.

Think before you act but don’t let your thinking keep you from acting.