Simple Secret to Success: Just Do It

Copyright JC Politi Photography

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

Are you optimistic or pessimistic? And how do you think this impacts your ability to set and reach your goals?

An article in the New York Times called “How to Make Optimism Work for You” offers tips and suggestions for increasing optimistic attitudes in people looking for work.

Suggestions include:

Face your fears head on. Step outside your comfort zone to help eliminate fear, anxiety and negative thoughts that can stand in the way of success.

Re-evaluate events in your everyday life. Tell yourself that maybe things aren’t so bad.

Practice mindful meditation. Allow feelings and thoughts to pass through your mind without judging or reacting to them; that helps create a sense of detachment from negative experiences.

Take control over how you feel instead of letting feelings control you. A sense that you control your destiny can help you bounce back from setbacks and maximize your enjoyment of life.

Laugh. Use positive feelings to counter negative ones.

Be fully engaged. Get involved in activities that are meaningful to you, whether it’s a career, hobby, sport or volunteering. Do it, as Bill Richmond says. Then learn how.

The last suggestion is the suggestion that intrigues me most. The article includes a portrait of a 90 year old man whose life reads like a who’s-who of Hollywood. His motto is “Do it. Then learn how.”

Copyright JC Politi Photography

I know many will be appalled at this suggestion. I am not one of them. I have always been impatient with the planning phase of projects, preferring to jump in and begin.

This may be a weakness on my part but, in fact, I can think of few times when this philosophy has backfired. Perhaps I have had to tweak something after beginning, but taking action has rarely been the wrong choice.

I should mention that Mr. Richmond, while quick to take action, also seems to be quick to recognize his need for further development in whatever he has begun, taking courses in whatever discipline he has chosen to work in next. But he takes the courses after he begins, not prior to taking the first step.

His advice resonates with me: “The important thing,” Mr. Richmond said in an interview, “is to visualize what you want and go after it. Be ready for an opening — serendipity — all the time.”

Many of us have a fear of failure or a need to be perfect, so we never take that first step. Many prefer to remain in the safety of the planning phase of a project until the real opportunity – or serendipity – has passed.

That is not how I want to live. I would rather fail, but fail while trying to actually do something. Inaction feels like the greatest failure to me.

You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
Wayne Gretzky

What do you think? Do you prefer to have all of your plans in place before you make a major life decision or are you more willing to learn as you go? Do you think these tendencies are natural or learned? What do you encourage your kids to do when they are embarking on a project? Have you learned any lessons you would like to share with others about this?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading.


Filed under Business, Career Planning, Culture, Economy, Education, Parenting, Photos, Relationships, social pressures

37 responses to “Simple Secret to Success: Just Do It

  1. Love the Gretzky quote. I had posted on my refrigerator just this week a quote from George Patton who said “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” In other words, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Yet, there is another interpretation of this quote which may be more applicable to your “just do it mindset” and that is “many people talking about doing things, but few get up out of their chair and go do it.” So, keep on keepin on and tell us how it went. Best wishes on your journeys.

  2. I think sometimes in planning we over think things…I am not a “planner” it’s not always good but often times I do then look for ways to improve. Great post!!!

    • Thanks!! Sounds like you do your homework as needed and then dive in. That sounds like the right way to go! don’t have a lot of patience for planning paralysis, but it seems to me to be a common problem. It is helpful for me to have some of those folks around me so they can stop me from driving right off a cliff, but I think it sometimes helps them to have me around so that we can at least put our foot on the gas! 🙂 Thanks for your comment!!

  3. I seem to be a little of both, because I’m dreamer always thinking of new ideas and plans and I jump into things without thinking everything through too. The times in life when I’ve been successful and enjoyed it the most have been when I followed the man in your articles advice – Do it — then learn how. That approach isn’t for everyone, but I’m suspecting that’s what many of us must do to adapt in a world that is changing so quickly. Thanks for sharing these insightful ideas! 🙂

    • You have a great point in this ever changing society. But imagine this man – 90 years old. I guess he wasn’t driven by this…Thanks so much for your comment! Maybe I should take a photography class! 😉

  4. I am usually a bit of a planner but when I have just taken the plunge things usually turned out well. And I do admire those who “just do it.” Don’t change! Thoughtful post.

    • Thank you. I think there is probably a balance, as with most things. I am sure there are a few things that we should prepare for a little more than others. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment!

  5. I think it depends on the project. I always prepared my classes and my coaching sessions carefully — allowing for serendipity! But when I remodeled my house I just plunged in. I worried that if I thought too long about it the possibilities of what might go wrong would make it impossible to start!

    • That makes sense. Like I said above, some things require more planning, which leads to better focus than others. But we don’t want to get stopped in our tracks – at some point the planning has to end and we just have to do! Thanks so much for reading, Hugh!

  6. August McLaughlin

    I think nature and nurturing (from others and ourselves) influence our attitudes. And our choices can help or hinder optimism regardless.

    Thanks for this uplifting post! 😉 Happiness can’t be overemphasized IMO.

    • Yay! I am glad you found it to be uplifting! I am afraid that that is not always the tone of my writing. 😉 I agree that happiness can’t be overemphasized and that probably a combination of nature and nurture contribute to this, just like most things. Thanks so much for reading and for your comment!

  7. Great, thoughtful, and timely post for me 🙂

    Many years ago, when doing a public speaking event, I recall using the quote that do what you love, and then the knowledge will come. (I want to say Paul Loeb, Soul of a Citizen, but I could be way off base.) That we learn our way into what we’re doing, because it’s necessary at that point. It’s not just because it seems like a good idea. There’s more drive behind it.

    And personally, as I’m pondering some of the coming changes in my life? The “I will be ready when…” is a huge factor that I’m working through, that I have what I need to begin, and the rest? Well, that will lead me further.

    • Jump and the net will appear is my motto! 🙂 Glad this was a timely post for you…it is for me as well. I think sometimes I use this blog as more of a therapy session for myself than anything else! Glad to hear it can give some help to others as well. 🙂 Thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comment. I think you are so right. It would be a good idea for me to improve my Spanish, but until I am immersed in living in another country, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. Maybe I need to just move and then learn the language! 🙂 Thanks again for reading and taking time to leave a commennt!

  8. LOVE this line: Do it, as Bill Richmond says. Then learn how. I’m an eternal optimist and have been accused of living on Fantasy Island with rose coloured glasses on…but I don’t care…because I believe!

  9. I am not a planner, but my husband makes up for it. I think we balance each other in that department. I know if I thought too much I would talk myself right out of it, so I’m better with winging it. My husband has maps, charts, literature and anything else it takes…ugh..then he begins. I even lose interest in his project during the planning stage. As for our children my daughter is the planner, my son is the winger…bizarre.

    • Sounds exactly like my family. My husband is a great planner – I am a great doer – the balance is very helpful for both of us! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. This is one of the best post I’ve seen in a while. Thank you so much for sharing. Simply love it.

  11. I’m probably more kamakazi than considered…and my husband way more considered than spontaneous, so we balance each other. Ironically at work, I would look at all sides of an issue, much like a prism – but more often than not, I’m one who would say ‘go for it’!

  12. Pingback: Fantasy Island and rose-coloured glasses « talktodiana

  13. “Take control over how you feel instead of letting feelings control you. A sense that you control your destiny can help you bounce back from setbacks and maximize your enjoyment of life.”

    This is the one that I’ve always tried to work on. My psych teacher in high school would always say that forcing yourself to smile when you’re unhappy will make you happy… Something to do with neurotransmitters, I forget exactly what.

  14. I love this post..really insightful! And I love the quote – Do it and then learn how – I’m not that way with everything, but I am much more likely to never do it at all if I try to figure it out all beforehand; I like the problem solving that comes with figuring it out on the fly!

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