THE LAW OF DIMINISHING INTENT

The Law of Diminishing Intent says the time to act is when the idea is hot, and the emotion is strong. When we delay, our intent quickly starts to diminish. The feelings grow cold, and the wisdom is wasted. We should follow through on the idea with action. The time to move is when we are inspired to act. BEGIN. Start installing the necessary habits and disciplines. Do it while the idea is clear in our mind, and the desire is strongest in our heart. Begin while your emotions are stirred.

Installing NEW routines and behaviors requires a herculean disciplined effort. Do not squander your desire. Put it to good use. Take immediate action. Hesitation allows your desire to install good habits that will improve your life to pass without being employed. Don’t allow the emotion to diminish through indecision. Indecision is mental paralysis. Indecision means what could be is postponed or may never be. Indecision means putting off what we could do, what we should do. Indecision means the opportunity waits. Indecision means the door remains closed. The longer we delay, the less likely we are to act. Our desire quickly erodes and fades from existence. The wisdom is wasted, and the idea is soon forgotten. “Indecision is the greatest thief of opportunity.” Jim Rohn

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Deciding, finally replacing your “I SHOULD-s” with “I WILL-s” can be an excellent source of motivation, but once you decide, you must discipline yourself to act. Never leave the site of a decision without taking immediate action. It can be the smallest of actions. It isn’t the size of the action that matters most. Baby steps count too. You want to generate momentum, and that is done through movement. A decision not married to action is merely a wish. A real decision forces an action. Start small and begin building momentum. Start becoming a person that gets out of their head and into action. Real decisions change our behavior. True decisions are the only things that improve our lives.

In the military, a unit is said to be decisively engaged when it has only two options, stand and fight, or perish. After you decide, discipline yourself to put yourself out there. Place yourself in situations that will force you to do what you are hesitant to do. When faced with a “do or die” situation, we tend to do. The only way to conquer our fears is by confronting them. “Do the things you fear, and the death of fear is certain.” Tom Hopkins. Overcoming fear, laziness, and procrastination is simple, but it isn’t easy. We all experience these emotions. It is our ability to act in the face of these emotions that determine our ultimate success. Success requires us to act despite our emotions.

Willpower is a muscle, but like a muscle, it fatigues and can fail us when we need it most; leaving us unable to overcome negative emotions. We can eliminate the need for willpower by putting ourselves in situations that force us to act. If you have a hard time getting up to workout, besides placing your workout clothing and alarm clock on the far side of your bedroom to make sleeping-in more difficult, you could sign-up for an early morning fitness boot camp. Your registration fee and your commitment to the trainer to attend can be that little extra push you need to get up and workout.

Making commitments to others to do something creates greater accountability than the promises we make to ourselves. Most of us, myself included are naturally selfish. Most of our thoughts revolve around ourselves and our interests, but for some odd reason, we are much more willing to disappoint ourselves than we are to disappoint others. We do better for others than we do for ourselves. An excellent strategy for getting out of our comfort zone is making binding commitments to others. Once the obligation is on your calendar, and more importantly, their calendars, you create a sense of urgency.

Discipline yourself to do things that will force you out of your comfort zone. Find ways to become accountable to others. Tell people about your goals. Schedule a weekly check-in with an accountability partner. You could offer to help them track their progress toward a goal as well, so you can both benefit from the power of external accountability. We all do better when we know we will have to report on our progress to someone. Willpower isn’t as effective as shaping our environment. Having an accountability partner and scheduling commitments that will force us to get better, are two ways to shape our environment, so we don’t have to rely on willpower.

We are usually better at keeping commitments to others than we are to ourselves. Accountability breeds responsibility. We want to avoid disappointing others. We would preferably share our triumphs with them and receive their encouragement. Sharing small wins creates a positive feedback loop and activates our dopamine system; motivating us to make more progress. We can choose to change our lives whenever we want to, but it starts with a decision. Without a decision, the next five years will be like the last five years. We cannot reasonably expect different results by continuing our current pattern of behavior. The same actions will always produce the same results. Change is simple, but it isn’t easy. We can improve our lives whenever we want, but it begins with a decision.

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Indecision robs us of any chance of improving our lives. Hesitation allows the spark of inspiration to die. The moment we hesitate; our mind will begin to rationalize delaying action. The habit of hesitating to take affirmative action because we perceive it to be difficult or unpleasant is one of the most destructive habits we can form. We must discipline ourselves to act, because when we hesitate, our mind magnifies our fears in a cognitive bias, called the spotlight effect. This survival mechanism was designed to stop us from doing anything dangerous. After a few seconds of hesitation, a red flag is raised, and the magnification of our fears begins. We must initiate action and get out of our head. If we don’t beat our brains through action, fear wins. If we don’t get out of our head, fear will immobilize us. The opportunity for life change will be lost. So many people spend years trapped in situations they could have changed, should have changed, but they allowed fear to paralyze them. Never hesitate to do anything that will improve your life. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.” Chinese proverb.

We all have a choice. We can live our fears or live our dreams. When we hesitate to do something, we know will move our lives forward, we are choosing to live our fears. Growth and opportunity often require time, hard work, sacrifice, discipline, and failing occasionally. Growth often demands us to do something we have never done before. Stretching for next level ability usually means we will fail. No one likes to fail, but successful people realize it is part of the process of getting better. We will all experience failures; the key is to grow through them, not merely go through them.

Average people want to get through their day, but achievers wish to get something from their day; new skills, abilities, information, inspiration, opportunities, etc. Progress is always intentional. We don’t get better by leaps and bounds. Improvements are acquired through small daily disciplines. Success is gained through small incremental improvements each day. We must ask ourselves what inaction will cost me. A long-view perspective helps us to make better decisions. How will my life change in the next five years if I don’t start taking steps today to get better? The answer is it won’t. For things to get better, we must get better. We must get out of our head and into action. If the idea stays in our head, it will die there. The decision must translate into action. Even if we don’t have everything we need, we must put the idea into motion so we can begin to generate momentum.

Indecision allows the seeds of our inspiration to die without being nurtured. We don’t reap a harvest because we want one or even because we need one. We reap a harvest if we deserve one. When we push ourselves through self-discipline and kill procrastination, that is when we propel our lives forward. These moments are powerful. They are life changing. Hesitation kills the initiative. Hesitation is the resistance we must push through. Harness the energy of your desire to overcome hesitation. Generate momentum. The moment we hesitate our minds will kill the action. Hesitation is the resistance that keeps people trapped in dysfunctional relationships. This is the resistance that stops you from finding a better job. This is the resistance that keeps us trapped in a body we aren’t proud of. Our most potent weapon against hesitation is action. Throw yourself into action. Do SOMETHING; ANYTHING to generate momentum. The principles of physics apply. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, while a body at rest tends to remain at rest UNLESS acted upon. Desire is the force that is necessary to initiate movement. Desire’s only purpose is to force us to move. Desire not followed by action is worthless. Follow your decision with immediate and decisive action. Decide, commit, act, and then resolve.

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