The first month of the year seems like a good time to write about action. Especially if you’ve been off on holidays, you can feel overwhelmed. We all have more to do than we have time for, and for some reason in January we can feel sluggish about tackling the load.
Recently I was at a Nordic-inspired wellness centre, which featured cold plunge pools beside hot baths and saunas. I wanted to try them – a new experience for me. A friend saw me hesitating as I neared the steps of the frigid water. Looking right at me she said, “Don’t think.” Those simple words seem to lift my anxiety. I could feel my cognitive brain turn off and I trusted my instincts to take over. In I went, plunged, and out again. It felt great! Throughout the day, whenever I approached the cold plunge, I repeated the mantra “Don’t think.” This simple move made all the difference and turned dread into action.
You can apply this lesson to your workday. Dreading a tense phone call that you know you have to make? Don’t think, plunge in. Dreading the presentation you have to give next week. Don’t think, dive into preparing your slide deck. Our workplaces require us to bring a certain level of cognition and intelligence to the table. A problem is that we often can’t turn off that critical thinking – and we begin to ruminate, anticipate and imagine what’s ahead. Planning is a great business activity, as long as you have decided to do it. When our busy brains take over they can paralyze us and make us too hesitant. Peter Block wrote a wise book called “The answer to how is yes”. When we can stop thinking about how to proceed – and just proceed- amazing things get done.