This is part four of a multi-part series on taking action in the month of May.

Click here to read Part 1.

Click here to read Part 2.

Click here to read Part 3.

Maybe you’re accusing me of pushing you too hard with this Take Action Challenge thing. Maybe you’re resentful that I want you to start moving towards your dreams and your goals. Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, hmm, how can I guarantee that I will accomplish nothing by the end of the year?”

If you are one of these people, then this post is for you. I have compiled a list of tried-and-true methods that millions and millions of people use every day to stall out, get stuck, and keep proving to themselves that taking action just doesn’t work for them.

There are many ways to get nothing done. But since I’ve been accused of writing posts that are too long, I’ve narrowed this down to five items. Five proven techniques that keep us stuck and stalled.

Here’s how to get nothing done…

1 – Ask for permission.

Here’s a great way to get really stuck. Ask around a lot. Ask friends. Especially ask your co-workers. What do you think about my dream of being a poet? What do you think of me learning to invest my own money in the stock market? How would you react if I told you I wanted to start a business? How about an adventure? Should I try that?

The reason you want to do this is because most people don’t take chances. And most of them don’t want you to take a chance because then it will make them have to re-think their life choices. And man, that’d be a drag. If someone were to succeed when they tried something different, then that would mean that all these old beliefs and superhighways of negativity that people have constructed in their brains might not be the truth.

Well? Guess what? They’re not. Secretly everyone knows this, but the big conspiracy is to act like they don’t. So, ask for permission to try something different. Ask for permission to take action towards creating a life you love. Be careful though — there might be a few folks in your life that’ll give it to you! (Hint: These are the ones who laugh a lot.)

2 – If you scheduled a take-action task, ask yourself how you “feel” about doing it.

Try this: Schedule a visit to the gym before your work day begins. Set your alarm for 5am. When the alarm goes off, ask yourself the following: “Do I feel like getting out of my flannel sheets? Do I feel like traipsing out to my car and driving in the dark to a room where I will – under the pasty green glow of florescent lights – pedal in place for 35 minutes as guys named Jimbo create tremors in the building when they throw down their thousand pound dumbbells with a loud “Huuuuuuuuuuhrrrrhhh!”? Do I feel like hearing Gwen Stefani sing about bananas in the background of this scene?

What do you think your answer will be? Of course you won’t feel like it. You feel like flannel!

Here’s a secret: As long as you ask yourself if you feel like it, you won’t ever feel like it. So, keep asking yourself if you feel like it.

3 – Say “I think I’ll just check my email” before you begin.

Do I really need to say anything more about this one?

4 – Ask yourself this question often: “I wonder what people think of me.”

I find this technique to be the most successful way to stop me in my tracks. Especially when I’m about to sit down and write a song. It’s great to drum up some memories of bad reviews, or maybe even think about why a promoter decided not to book me. If I really work at it, I can think of a few people in town who don’t like me at all. I can hear them telling each other about how bad my songs are and how I probably won’t write another song. Sometimes, if I can’t think of these people, I can go back to high school in my imagination!

Before you get too deep into beginning any project, take a few moments to conjure up anyone you can think of that has ever had an opinion about you. Let them tell you whether or not you should begin now.

5 – Decide that it’s selfish to be the hero of your own life.

Oooooo. I’ve saved the best for last. Especially for us women. When all else fails, we love to pull out the selfish card. The selfish card is just one step above the B-word. Add on a simple, “Who do you think you are?” and you’ve got a surefire recipe for stopping in your tracks.

When I was first out of college, I kept telling people that I couldn’t believe that anyone could settle for a nine-to-five job and that there had to be a better way to live our lives. One person told me that I was being selfish, and that I didn’t get to just be happy all the time and to get over it. I found this to be quite effective in shutting me up for quite some time. You may find it works for you. Tell yourself that if you’re craving deep happiness, or inner peace, or outrageous joy – that you must be selfish.

But be warned: in order to maintain this attitude, you’ll want to avoid reading this amazing book, or seeing this amazing movie, or reading this amazing book, or this amazing book. You’ll also want to resign yourself now to the idea that life is meant to be a sacrifice with no daring adventures. Then, practice frowning into the mirror. A lot!

So there you have them. Go forth and, well…just stand there.

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42 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Shelby

    I love it. More please.

    It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission.

  • marcia siegel

    really enjoyed this post. what is ironic is that some people actually do these things thinking they are working toward their goals. for example – ask permission and ask yourself how you feel and wonder what ther people think of me. i see people considering these areas while planning their life.
    as always humor is a good, gentle way to get straight with yourself.

  • m

    Don’t ask for permission – this is exactly what I said to my Artist Way Class on their last session!

  • Christine Kane

    Hi Summer. Thanks for the note! Yea, #3 is the biggie, isn’t it?

  • Summer

    Thanks for being part of the Carnival of SAHMs!

    This is a great post. I’m guilty of number 3 myself far too often. 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    Hey Steve! It was great to meet you too. I’d send you an email, but I’m afraid my email address doesn’t reflect my brand enough. Today, I’m working on how to improve that!

    Tim, you’re so inspiring. I hope you continue on the path you’ve so boldly taken. And I mean that! Please keep sharing openly like you did at the conference!

    Hi Sari, well, I’m a mom to a dog and three cats. (But no one called to wish me happy mother’s day. sigh.) Anyway, thanks for your very kind words. I’m happy that I helped make the mood good! 🙂

  • Sari

    So I ordered the CD Rain and mud and wild and green after reading about you on ArtBizBlog …and it arrived, shiny and new, & with a handwritten note I had asked for, for my mother…then, we went to my mum’s tonight for a barbeque & family and friends sat at the dinner table…& I played the CD maybe four times, cause it was good…my aunt , who is a soprano listened, & the rest of the bunch & the mood was so good…& , for 15 dollars, the whole mood of a room was good…How about that in this technopricey world ? So anyways thank you, & Happy Mother’s Day if you are a mum yourself, & if not, you can still celebrate the ‘mom’ inside, which we decided tonight is in all of us…

  • Tim Draayer

    Christine – Great article, I can certainly noted a couple in the list I’m particularly good at, namely checking my email. Keep up the good work. I’ve always enjoyed your articles.

    On a side note, your performance at the conference this last weekend was wonderful. Thanks for briefly sharing your thoughts with me and look forward to talking to you again. Its often hard for me to open myself up as much as I did this weekend so your kind words were very much appreciated. -hugs-

    Tim

  • Steve Farber

    Hey Christine…it was great getting to know you at SobCon. Your card seems to be hiding from me, so send me an email with your contact info and I’ll send you a couple of books.

    Your blog does a great job reflecting your brand, by the way. And branding, you may have heard, is important. Branding. It’s important. Branding, that is…

  • Lexi Sundell

    This delightful article is included in Carnival of Creative Growth #5, adding your value to a great collection of articles. Please place a link from your blog to the carnival page to help promote these other articles.

    I might mention that Blog Carnival has emailed me that the Carnival of Creative Growth has been selected to be the featured carnival on their home page May 19. I would love to see this next edition filled with high quality articles, so please consider submitting to it as well.

  • Miss Blue

    Hi Christine,
    I loved your action related posts, moreso because I have finally been moving forward on some real hard core “actions” myself, lately. After a year of emotional prep, and fearful starts, I’m finally in motion. You’re right on, as usual.
    As for Eat,Pray, Love….I have been telling everyone I know to run, not walk, to get this book. Inspiring, beautiful, from the heart, honest, funny….I was telling Heather to read it, and coincidentally, Elizabeth Gilbert was at one of our (miami) local bookstores while Heather was here. So Heather took my advice and went to see her. I’m sure she’ll read the book soon!

  • Christine Kane

    seventh sister, i love that you said “for years I did not think I was allowed…” I used to think that way too. It was wild the first few times I started getting how wrong that belief system was! (I’m glad you like the books. I love sharing things like that with other people!)

    marina, that’s great. I’ve seen lots of posts lately on “productivity.” It must be going around.

    thanks deb! and welcome!

  • Deb

    Timely reinforcement of stuff I am currently working on. I originally linked from Scribbit’s blog. I am also using your intention tools. Thanks.

  • Marina

    I had just read a similar list yesterday http://www.persistenceunlimited.com/2006/05/10-steps-you-can-take-to-guarantee-failure/ . I thought I was making some positive changes and moving towards my goals, so now I’m wondering if these 2 lists are some kind of reinforcement that I am taking the right steps, or some kind of reminder that I could do more. Maybe a bit of both.
    Thanks Christine.

  • seventh sister

    Thanks for this post. We are all so good at finding ‘reasons’ not to move forward. For years, I just did not think I was allowed to do the things I wanted to do.

    Also,thanks for all the great book suggestions that you make. I have bought several just because you recommended them and I have not been disappointed yet.

  • Christine Kane

    Lucy, We all need someone to get us back on track every now and then! Even if you do this everyday, and then move on – that’s progress. (It’s good to learn to let these patterns go completely at some point though!)

    Shan, I’m with you on that one. Elizabeth Gilbert was just at Malaprops bookstore here in my town – and she was wonderful.

    It’s a GOOD pigee, Colin. That’s the point! 🙂

  • Colin

    vegan? oops…boo pigee…bad pigee.

  • Shan

    Eat, Pray, Love is such a good book. I couldn’t put it down. If you read Eat, Pray, Love and find yourself longing for more of Italy, rent Enchanted April, Tea with Mussolini and A Room with a View, all of which celebrate the big, beautiful, eternal Yes!

  • lucy

    I have been doing all this for ages, so I’m on the right track, right? What do you think? Do you think I should just go for that adventure day tomorrow? Or wait?

    Seriously, this was a funny, gentle kick in the butt. Thanks, Christine. 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    you’re welcome, sabrina. thanks for writing!

    hi yogajenn, well it sounds like movement is happening, which is good. and i do know those little jams that can happen with people you employ or partner with. going within is the best beginning!

    susanne, very good point! the “waiting for the perfect moment” syndrome. thanks.

    hi colin! well, i don’t know if i really want to be the pig in that picture of yours. (after all, i’m a vegan!) and you’re right – just say no to naysayers. (or something like that!)

  • Colin

    How come when you write something like this it’s satire…when I do, it’s cynical? Oh well. Anyway, your posts ARE NOT TOO LONG. Gotta give ideas all the words they deserve, otherwise you would do better to print bumper stickers and call it a day. If I may quote “It’s about level of involvement. It’s about bacon and eggs. With bacon and eggs, you see, the chicken is INVOLVED. But the pig, the pig is COMMITTED.” Stay committed to saying what you need to say. By the way, Boccaccio said “Grand benevolence always attracts grand malevolence.” I encourage everyone to lose the naysayers; it’s not about you at all, it’s about their absolute NEED to pollute the spirits of others.

  • Susanne

    Ah, something I have been very good at for ages… My favorite tactics in the past have been: asking how I feel and feeling selfish. Nowadays it’s more along the lines of checking e-mail first.

    Oh, and then there’s one thing that you didn’t mention but that works well too, reading tons of self-help books and deciding to change things when “the time is right”, or you can do it “how it should be done”, or “when you lost weight”, or “when you have enough money”.

    Love this post, very funny.

  • yogajenn

    This is so perfect and so timely. Sometimes, satire and sarcasm are absolutely THE best way to express frustration around issues like this, and I could not have said it better. I could probably add a couple dozen more to the list, but I’m sure that’s true for everyone.

    Just tonight, I gently & respectfully challenged a business partner on some of the ways she shows up in the world, and I received a flurry of defensive denials and accusations of ‘not getting her’. Now I’m back-peddling, apologizing, all those things that I will hate myself for later. I want to lovingly hold up a mirror and have her acknowledge these things, but I’m obviously pushing too hard. I guess we see our stuff when we are ready for it. And so for now, I will concentrate on what all of this is reflecting back to me. Maybe I’m way off base with her… this is when I need a neutral reality check! 🙂

  • Sabrina Morgan

    Oooh. You caught me.

    Thanks for posting this when it was most needed. You’re always one of my favorite reads.