How to Get off Your Ass and Take More Action
Let me guess…
You know what to do, but you don’t do it.
You want to get started, but it doesn’t happen.
Basically, you’re struggling with getting off your ass and taking some fcking action, right?
Well, you’re not alone…
Oprah has been there. Barack Obama has been there. Jay-Z has been there. Even Mr. Action Taker himself, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, has been there. EVERYBODY has been struggling with taking action!
Me too, I’ve been struggling a thousand times.
However, I’ve found certain ways that help me getting off my ass and take some fcking action!
Now in this article, YOU will learn 10 excellent ways to trick yourself to take the action that is needed to rock the world.
But watch out!
This post is not your mummy preparing breakfast for you.
This post is neither your girlfriend massaging your neck and shoulders.
This post is Bruce Willis whipping you off your lazy ass so you take some damn action!
(That, my friend, is the sweet sound of the crack of Willis’ whip. Get used to it.)
This post is your motivator to take action and implement whatever you want in your life.
It’s chunked down to 10 easy-digestible tips. Take one by one.
Taking Action Separates the Winners from the Losers
Yes, that’s right.
Taking action separates the winners from the losers.
Winners are successful people. Losers are mediocre people.
Winners get things done. Losers don’t.
Winners eat healthy, losers will eat healthy someday.
Winners work out, losers have no time.
Winners start a business, losers have great ideas.
(Justin Bieber, love or hate him, but let’s admit: He doesn’t just say he works out, he actually works out. He doesn’t just say he writes a song, he actually writes it. He’s a doer, he’s an action taker and that made him successful.)
Let’s state that clearly:
I’m not going to be considerate of all the whiny wussies out there that bitch about EVERYTHING and have thousand excuses for not taking action.
Look, if you can’t admit that you need to take more action to rock the world, then go home, eat some M&Ms, and watch Desperate Housewives.
You have 2 options:
- You’re willing to take what is needed, sit up straight, roll up your sleeves, and devour that article.
- You cry about me (or Bruce Willis) being mean, and think you are already a massive action-taker, then do whatever you like.
Option 1 is the winners’ option… So, let's do it!
Here’s a cool puzzle:
Imagine there were 5 birds sitting in a tree. Now suppose three of the birds want to fly away. How many birds would be left in the tree?
Five birds would remain in the tree. Wanting to fly away and actually flying away are two different things. The difference is action.
So let’s fly away directly into Tip #1!
Tip #1: Stop Whining!
- I have no time.
- I have no money.
- I don’t feel like it…
- I can’t do it.
- I have a family to raise.
- It’s raining.
- I’m just born lazy…
STOP WHINING, SLACKER!
Get off your ass and do something!
People have thousand excuses for not taking out the garbage! WTF?
- Are you really that loser person who can’t get off his ass to take out the garbage?
- Are you really that weakling who blames the weather for not working out?
- Are you really that busy-of-a-man who has no time to study for an exam?
Look, I know it’s not easy getting started. Procrastination is just the path of least resistance. To procrastinate is just the easiest way. The easiest way, however, won’t change anything.
Life doesn’t always need to be easy. Easy is easy but easy is boring too. Easy won’t bring you anywhere. Basically, it’s easy: Choosing the easy path and finding excuses for not taking the tough path (tough as taking out the garbage…) won’t bring you any further.
‘Time changes everything.’ That’s what people say, it’s not true. Doing things changes things. Not doing things leaves things exactly as they were. – Dr. House
If you’re perfectly happy the way things are, then don’t look for excuses for not taking action.
- I have no time
- It’s raining –> Just say: “I don’t want a better body.”
- I have no gym clothes
- It’s too expensive
- I can’t cook –> Just say: “I don’t want to eat healthy.”
- It’s tough
- It won’t work
- I’m not good enough –> Just say: “I don’t want to write a book.”
- I have too much to do
My point is, STOP WHINING!
Do something or leave it. But don’t look for stupid excuses. Excuses are cheap and won’t bring you anywhere.
Never whine, bitch, or complain. – Eben Pagan
Are you ready to stop looking for excuses but taking action instead?
Yes, you are!
Tip #2: Get the Stones Rollin’
Every journey begins with a single step.
You know that saying.
And it’s true.
Whether it’s that you want to eat healthy, work out, read more or whatever else you want to do. Start with a single step.
Just get started.
- Start with one healthy dish. –> Eat broccoli once a week.
- Start with one workout. –> Do as many pushups (maybe on your knees) as you can.
- Start with one page. –> Read one page and close the book.
You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great. – Zig Ziglar
Get yourself doing something.
Get yourself in the ACTION MODE.
Just start cleaning your desk. If you’re done, you’ll feel like doing more. You’re in the action mode.
You want to write an article? Just start writing a header. Or tell yourself to just write 100 crappy words. And before you notice you’ll have a lousy first draft.
Just get rollin’.
- Motivation will follow.
- Inspiration will follow.
- Courage will follow.
- Confidence will follow.
That’s the law of getting started. Better yet, the law of getting off your ass. As soon as you’re off your ass doing something you’re in the action mode. Everything gets easier once you’ve started.
“But that’s the hard part!” some excuse-maker shouts from the back…
Well then consider Tip #3.
Tip #3: Make it Tiny
"I want to meditate daily."
"I want to write a book."
"I want to lose 20 pounds."
These are typical goals. And such goals are reachable. However, they can seem overwhelming, intimidating, and too big.
Make them tiny. Break them up. Start small.
- Meditate right now. Do it once to start with. Do it for 5 minutes only.
- What do you want to write about? Write your outline. Write a few lines to start with.
- How do you want to lose weight? Eat healthy and exercise? Start small. Start with losing one pound.
It is much easier to get off your ass to meditate (usually on your ass, too) for 5 rather than 20 minutes.
It is much easier to get off your ass to write ten lines rather than the whole book.
It is much easier to get off your ass to do pushups rather than pack your gym bag, go to the gym and workout for half an hour.
Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned. – Peter Marshall
Once you’ve started you will feel motivated and write another page or do some crunches as well.
Getting the wheel spinning is the hard part. Keeping it spinning is easier.
“But what if…?!” someone exclaims.
“What if the task at hand is more complex? Like starting a business?”
Well then, start small too.
Break down your task. What do you have to do? What are the steps you have to take? Break down your task. Then you can see the small bits and pieces. This makes starting much easier.
Break it down. Make the parts small. Start with a single step. And then take another and another.
Make it tiny to get started.
And when you’re done…
Tip #4: Celebrate Yourself Like a Freak!
Hooray! I meditated for 5 minutes straight!
Yabadabadoo! I wrote 2 lines! I’m an author!
YESS! I did 5 pushups. Oh yeah. I worked out!
Cheer yourself like a freak!
Celebrate like you just got an extra day off.
Compliment yourself. Clap yourself on the shoulder.
* Wapush!* Yeehaw! (This is a whip crack of joy.)
Uh-oh… I can hear some people from the cheap seats…
- “Blowing your own trumpet is for losers…”
- “Self-praise stinks!”
- “He that praises himself spatters himself.”
“Let me be great!” That’s what Jay-Z preaches in his song F.U.T.W. (Fuck up the world).
Don’t listen to the voices from the cheap seats! Celebrating yourself has tons of benefits!
- It motivates you to take more action.
- It acknowledges that you’re an action taker.
- It makes you feel better.
- It builds momentum and confidence.
(You may want to check out this article on celebrating yourself.)
Simply put, celebrate yourself for every little something you’ve done. Even if you just thought about work while meditating. Even if your 2 written lines sound like from a 4 year old. And even if your 5 pushups were executed fragilely.
Celebrate yourself for the actions you’ve taken! (It’s the effort that counts.)
Also, make sure you reward yourself. Watch an episode of Game of Thrones, get yourself a massage, or whatever you like.
(By the way, that idea is called Positive Reinforcement and it works well with dogs, too.)
Be generous with yourself and
acknowledge celebrate your successes.
Tip #5: It’s a Date!
Remember your first date?
I bet you were never going to miss that!
Well, the same should hold true for dates with yourself.
- Set a date for the gym.
- Set a date for working on your book.
- Set a date for meditating.
Scheduling is the magic word.
*Wapush!* Stop thinking about your first date now!
Whatever you want to take action on --> schedule it.
If you write it in your agenda/calendar you’re more likely going to go through with it. There’s no excuse for not doing it. IT’S A DATE!
Let’s say you carve out some time on Wednesday morning for your gym session.
7AM GYM --> It’s written in your agenda underlined with a red marker.
Imagine it’s a date with Jennifer Lawrence (I’d never miss that date!) or Channing Tatum or whoever you’d like. Maybe it’s the girl next door.
Make time for your actions. Look at your agenda and ask yourself “When can I do it?” Then write it down. Schedule it! It’s a date!
Now, while you would NEVER miss an actual date with someone you adore, it is well possible that you forget a date with the gym… (Obviously, the gym isn’t Jennifer Lawrence.)
Therefore you need to set reminders for that gym date. (You’ll know what I mean if you read on.)
Tip #6: Be Your Own Whip Cracking Bruce Willis!
Imagine you want to go to the gym in the morning.
The alarm goes off and you feel tired…
It’s easy to snuggle in and stay in bed. Snooze a bit…
It’s Bruce Willis standing next to your bed cracking his whip!
Baaam! You take your gym bag and go to the gym immediately.
(Haha, I love imagining that situation.)
My point is, the moment you schedule things you actually feel more motivated to do it than at the date time itself.
- When scheduling: “Oh yeah, tomorrow morning I’m going to hit that gym!”
- Tomorrow morning (date time): “Holy shit! What did I think? Let’s go back to sleep…”
So, you need to prepare yourself. Of course, you could hire Bruce Willis to check on you going through your schedule. But he’s already with me, so he won’t have time for you, too.
The solution looks like this: Be your own whip cracking Bruce Willis.
- How will you feel when you should get started?
- What will you likely do instead of what you’ve planned?
- What excuses will you have?
You need to trick yourself.
There are 3 simple steps to trick yourself (Bruce Willis’ tasks):
- Use reminders.
- Tell others.
- Punish yourself if you don’t go through with it.
Let’s start with step one: Use reminders.
Basically, make sure you don’t forget what you’ve scheduled (as it’s not really a date with Jennifer Lawrence). So, set an unusual alarm clock sound (like Rob Bailey and the Hustle Standard - BEAST). Put your gym bag next to your bed. Or sleep in your gym clothes. Put reminder stickers everywhere. Or tell your flat mate to remind you.
There’s a ton of possibilities to remind yourself. Be creative. Leave a comment about your extraordinary ideas to remind yourself. Got a crazy alarm song?
- Tick step 1
Step two is easy, too. Tell others about your plans.
Personally, I’ve told sooo many people that I’m starting a blog so it’s impossible I’m not going through with it. Smart eh?
Tell your friends that from now on you work out twice a week. Tell them what your goals are. Tell your flat mates that from now on you want to eat healthy. Maybe they’re in, too.
Be a bit cocky about it, too. This will force you to actually going through with it.
So, instead of saying “I’ll work out twice a week”, brag about how you muscular you’ll be, “Guys, I’ll hit the gym now, in two months I’m the new Brad Pitt!”
You’re leveraging the power of other people’s expectations to going through with your date. Smart!
I find it helpful when I tell people I’m not too close to. Like my uncles, aunts, and grandparents. This helps because my close friends would always forgive me easily if I wouldn’t go through with it. They’d just say “I thought so” or “Yeah, fuck it. Let’s go out!”
- Tell others and tick step 2
Now, let’s look at step three of being your own Bruce Willis: Punish yourself.
This may sound totally abnormal and SM like. But it’s not. Don’t worry.
For all the people in the cheap seats, before you exclaim “Punishment is horrible!” hear me out first.
Telling others is fine, but sometimes it’s not enough. You may need some sort of punishment that drives you. The idea is that if you don’t go through with your date, you make yourself doing something you don’t like. For example:
- Paying money (works best).
- Cleaning the bathroom.
- Not watching Game of Thrones.
- Not buying that new dress.
You get it.
You may tell your friend that if you don’t work out on Wednesday you owe him 100$.
Fear of loss works well.
This is massively backed by research (loss aversion). [1 2] Francis University sports psychologist Ariane Machin, Ph.D., states that “Gym Pact [an app that takes money from you if you don’t follow your scheduled workouts] boasts an 80% exercise adherence rate. Money is motivating, thus workouts are more likely to happen because people do not want to lose their money.” 
So, money works well. But there are more possibilities.
For instance, I often tell my brother Nils that I’m going to hoover the flat if I don’t finish my article.
Or, today, Nils told me that he’s not coming to watch the Arsenal FC game tonight if he hasn’t finished his work. (By now I can tell you, he didn’t miss the game…)
Generally, people are more motivated by the fear of loss rather than looking forward to be rewarded.
For example: Paying 10 bucks if you don’t work out motivates you more than receiving 10 bucks if you do. (This phenomenon is called Loss Aversion.)
So, step three shall make it hard not going through with your date.
- Let's tick step 3
Let’s recap the three steps of being your own whip cracking Bruce Willis:
- Use reminders.
- Tell others.
- Punish yourself if you don’t go through with it.
(Again, I find it highly important to reward yourself for going through your dates. Remember: Positive Reinforcement.)
To conclude, be your own Bruce Willis. And go through with your dates!
This was a marathon tip. Tip #7 is going to be a quickie, I promise!
Tip #7: Fish or Cut Bait
Shit or get off the pot!
Seriously, do it or leave it.
You need to make a decision. Am I going to work out regularly? Yes or no?
Make a decision. Decide wholeheartedly. And then go through with it. Don’t ask you the same damn question all over again. The question is whether you choose to work out or not. Yes? The die is cast! There’s no way back.
- Do you want to meditate regularly?
- Do you want to write a book?
- Do you want to read more?
It’s either all or nothing!
Take time to decide. As soon as you choose to either do something or not, commit to it! Fish or cut bait. Do it right or leave it. You’re not going to catch anything if you don’t really want to fish. Either you’re committed to catch a fish and you will not stop until you catch one or you’re not committed and you will never catch anything but boots.
Take Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be – that is the question.” and transform it into:
- To do, or not to do…
- To commit, or not to commit…
- To take action, or to GET OFF THE FREAKIN’ POT! *Wapush!*
Tip #8: Act Before You’re Abso-perfect-lutely Ready
Remember the first time you drove a car?
I’m sure you were no Michael Schumacher.
You probably felt like a baby wildebeest getting on its feet ten seconds after birth. Insecure. Wiggly. Clumsy.
Eventually, the wildebeest runs and jumps around and you drove and drifted around.
Neither of you were perfectly ready to take action. You didn’t know exactly how to drive. The wildebeest didn’t know exactly how to get on its feet. But both of you made it!
That’s called learning by doing.
And it’s what the most successful people on the planet do day-in, day-out! They take IMPERFECT ACTION!
Forget perfection! Better yet, kill perfection!
Nothing will ever be perfect. And you will never feel perfectly ready to act. And the good news is: You don’t need to be perfectly ready! Nobody ever was…
Get in the game and correct while you’re playing.
When you start doing something you’ll receive feedback. You’ll know where you are. And you can correct direction. Like the baby wildebeest, if it just lies on the floor thinking about how to get up, it’ll never get up. Even worse, it’ll starve or be eaten alive!
And the same will happen to you if you don’t get in the game quickly.
Yes, you’ll be eaten alive! There are heaps of hungry vultures acting already. They make things happen. They act while you’re being acted upon!
Don’t get eaten by the vultures, act yourself. Be the vulture!
Don’t wait and see and prepare, but ACT instead!
There is place for preparation and planning, but it must be kept in perspective. Some people spend their whole life preparing and waiting for the perfect moment to act.
Guess what? They’re still waiting!
Jack Canfield describes this neatly: “Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘Ready, aim, fire!’ The problem is that too many people spend their whole life aiming and never firing.”
And see where the bullet lands so you can adjust your aim accordingly.
“Ready, fire, aim!” is Jack Canfield’s motto.
“Easier said than done…” I hear some people whispering.
Of course! Talk is cheap. Or better yet, “Talk doesn’t cook rice” (a Chinese proverb).
Everything is easier said than done (except for some tongue twisters).
But man, get things rollin’.
Let’s say you want to write a book, start with meditation or eat healthier.
Instead of thinking about what to write, how to structure it and when to publish it, START WRITING (and improve later).
Instead of reading a ton of articles about meditating and how to meditate perfectly, START MEDITATING.
Instead of learning everything about nutrition, how to cook and when to eat, START EATING HEALTHY.
All the knowledge in the world doesn’t help you if you don’t use it and act upon it!
Get started even if you don’t feel perfectly ready.
Implement faster. Do what you learn. Do what you want to do.
And for Bruce Willis’ sake, DON’T WAIT FOR THE PERFECT MOMENT. It will never come!
Act or be eaten alive (while preparing and overthinking).
Are you an overthinker?
Then learn how to overcome that and jump right into Tip #9!
Tip #9: Think Less. Act More.
What a maverick advice!?
Well. Ahem, no.
How do I know? Because you’re reading this.
You don’t know how to actually get started with whatever you want to do.
Imagine you’re in a bar having a beer/drink or whatever you prefer. You choose.
Just imagine you’re in that bar.
There he/she is, the boy/girl of your dreams (let’s just say you’re a girl and see the boy of your dreams).
He looks stunning. His golden-angelic hair, his broad shoulders and his divine face. Ooooholà chico…
You get it. --> Dream boy!
Now, you’re thinking…
How should I approach him? Hmm…
Well, he should approach me, he’s the man.
What could I say? Should I invite him to a drink? No, he should invite me, he’s the man.
Whether he likes me…?
Come on, I’ll go and say hi. Just say hi! Or hey? Hello? What’s up?
Aaand shwoop, he’s taken! That bitch!
It’s happened to me waaay too often!
So, what can do you against it?
Check Tip #8 again. Take imperfect action. Get in the game! Don’t overthink.
By the way, there’s even a term for overthinking: Analysis Paralysis.
Look, I know you’re smart. And I know planning is tempting. The problem is that you’ll never feel perfectly ready. And planning isn’t living. Planning to read a book isn’t reading. Planning to work out isn’t working out. Planning to chat up a girl isn’t chatting her up.
Don’t get lost in your thoughts. I know, there are a million ideas and possibilities buzzing around in your head. But that’s mainly crazy shit.
Give yourself a break. Take a deep breath and just act.
Life doesn’t play all in your head! Life plays on the pitch! Go for it! Nothing is going to happen if you fail. If the boy isn’t interested in you, so what? If your first draft is shitty, so what? If you’re completely destroyed after 5 minutes working out, so what? You’re in the game! Live. Not only in your head anymore.
That’s what life is about.
Don’t waste your life thinking about doing something, DO IT! Just do it! Like they say.
Do you remember the birds that want to fly away? Well, fly the flock away!
What can happen?
You can fail. That’s it!
What if you fail?
Tip #10: Get Up, Shake Off the Dust, and Try Again! Fail Better Now.
Get up you good for nothing lazy! (Stolen from the song Hall of Fame from The Script ft. will.i.am. Great song. Great lyrics.)
Look, I know it’s frightening doing things that you might fail. But it’s part of the game. You can never achieve anything without failing. Failing is good. It means you’re moving. Maybe not forwards. Maybe even backwards. But you’re moving. And you’re NOT STANDING STILL.
Have you heard of Orlando Duque?
He’s THE cliff diving legend.
Check this out...
Do you think he did that out of nothing? Do you think he never failed? Do you think he’s never been scared?
Of course he’s failed. And of course he’s been scared. He still is.
And I hear the kvetchers: “What a stupid comparison”, “This Duque is a freak”, “But this is not the same…”
Well, the comparison may not be perfect, and Duque is definitely a freak! But it is the same. He did not start off by jumping off cliffs. He started small. Like everybody else. And he failed a thousand times. He just got up and shook off the water and tried again. And again. And again. Aaand again!
Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, failed 10,000 times!
Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team. He got up. And he’s probably missed more shots than anybody else… He failed and failed again. Yet in the end, he’s a legend.
Pssst. Here’s a little secret: EVERYBODY HAS FAILED.
How often does a baby fall when he learns walking? Tons of times! Still, nobody goes “Haha, you suck! You can’t even walk!”
No! We encourage the baby to keep trying.
Now, as adults, we should encourage ourselves to keep going as well.
You cannot fail when you act. You can only fail to act!
As long as you’re acting you will never fail. You only fail if you’re standing still and thinking about acting…
Feel the fear and do it anyway. You’ve probably heard that saying. Well, try to integrate it into your life. It will have a MASSIVE impact!
Thinking will not overcome fear, but action will. – W. Clement Stone
If you’re afraid of failure, then ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen?
Seriously, ask that question.
If you want to lose weight, what’s the worst that could happen? Gaining weight? Getting embarrassed in front of others? Looking silly in the gym?
If you want to start a business, what’s the worst that could happen? Failing and losing money? Wasting time if it doesn’t work out? Losing your job?
If you want to start mediating, what’s the worst that could happen? Losing time? Thinking BS? Getting high?
*Wapush!* Working out won’t kill you! Eating healthy won’t kill you! Starting a business won’t kill you! Meditating won’t kill you!
No matter what you’re scared of when you fail, it won’t be too bad! (As long as it’s no Orlando Duque style of action…)
Get off your ass, feel the fear, and do it anyway!
Yes, talking to that girl in the bar won’t kill you. Worst case it’ll hurt your feelings, or she’ll spill her drink in your face. So what? Keep on trying, eventually you’ll succeed!
Get up, shake off the dust, and fail again!
Want to Start Tomorrow?
Let’s face it: Tomorrow is just another word for never.
When you catch yourself saying “I’ll do it tomorrow” then ask yourself, am I really going to do it tomorrow? Or am I just procrastinating? Could I maybe do it right now?
Just be aware: Tomorrow is evil.
The same holds true for someday.
“Someday I’ll work out regularly.”
“Someday I’ll eat healthy.”
“Someday I’ll meditate.”
This is BULLSHIT.
The future isn’t going to be better if you don’t change things now, and act TODAY.
You won’t have more time, motivation or energy.
You’ll be the same person… but fatter, older, and less sexy.
START RIGHT NOW.
Now is the time. It’s not tomorrow and surely not someday (ugh. That word is just gross).
Again, you want to get off your lazy ass now, and act NOW.
NOW is the time to rock the world.
Get the fck started!
Yippee ki-yay, motherfcker!
It is the best time to make some plans for the future
and it is time to be happy. I have read this post and
if I could I wish to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions.
Maybe you can write next articles referring to this article.
I want to read more things about it!
Thanks for the suggestions John. I’ll consider it.
Your post is valuable , thanks for the info
hahaha- a very humorous post that conveys the point!
Thanks so much 🙂