“A man can reach God if he follows one path rightly. Then he can learn about all the other paths. It is like reaching the roof by some means or other. Then one is able to climb down by the wooden or stone stairs, by a bamboo pole, or even by a rope.” – Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna



Congratulations, you have a goal. What next?

For many of us, the next step is to analyse and weigh options, looking for the best path to move forward. We read up on the best ways to reach our goal be it weight loss, taking up chess or meditation and that keeps us happily occupied, till the goal no longer holds the same attraction for us. Soon a month has passed and we are no closer to the finish line.

Some of us even become experts on various paths to the goal. We can endlessly pontificate about the various ways to reach the goal and the pro’s and con’s, unfortunately, we haven’t made it yet. Its a sorry state, and you know what, this happens to a lot of us, including yours truly.

But wait! There is a reason why we need to understand every path, you say.

Planning increases my chance of success

This is true in a lot of cases, but there is a caveat. For planning, you need information and some level of experience. In areas where you have prior experience, its easy to start with a list of activities and fashion it into a plan, with intermediate goals and milestones and what not. But in cases where you have no prior experience, the initial list may be incomplete and that leads to endless analysis. This is the syndrome of the would be entrepreneur polishing up his business plan instead of down and dirty with starting a business. How to avoid this trap?

Identify what is the level of knowledge and experience you already have in what you want to do and depending on your answer, start in a learning mode – see where it leads you. You can get further information on the field by reading books and periodicals or better yet, talking to an expert in the area for more information, but whatever you do, get a bit of hands on experience before you look at any decision around paths.

Only when you start blogging do you realise that all the analysis around the best blogging platform, themes and SEO is just window dressing, the difficult part of blogging is the writing. Your mileage may vary but you will never know till you start.

I need to know which way ahead is best before moving along down the path

The key to breaking this objection is to understand whether the decision around path is reversible or irreversible. There are very few decisions that are totally irreversible. And there are very few decisions where the loss from taking the wrong path is more than the loss from indecision.

Think about the options open to you, generate a few more options to start on the same path and then pick the least risky. Instead of buying that hobby farm in France, try renting some land and figuring out if you are a farmer, better yet, join WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) and see if you are cut out for the lifestyle.

Want to get fit? Start by running at a brisk clip down your street and see how far you go, hire a bicycle and go on a scenic ride around the city, get a trail pass at the gym and try out the equipment, these are all good options to tell you how fit you currently are and what sort of exercise suits you better. Instead of signing up for a full year, see if any trainers are willing to give you counselling for a month or two to see how you go. The options are endless and not as risky as you imagine once you decide to give it a shot.

I feel happy reading about stuff instead of doing, it’s research!

If you like reading, buying new gadgets, talking to people and endlessly researching, you tend to do all of it when faced with a choice rather than making the damn choice already! Its irresistible because you seem to be doing something productive (I am researching, exploring this new area…), when in reality you are not. What will tip you off when you are facing this obstacle is that you will see a lot of activity but will not be moving closer to the goal. In fact, if you observe carefully, the books you are reading and the research you are doing will be the least important thing you could be doing to move yourself toward the goal.

The key to avoiding this is to ask yourself the question. Is THIS the most important thing I could be doing NOW to reach my goal? If NOT, WHAT is the most important thing I could be doing to reach the goal? Go ahead, say it out loud and see where it leads you.

I am afraid I will fail – success is there, just not down this path or the next one…

This is fear of failure. The fear that you will make your choice, sign up for those dance classes, then discover that you have wooden legs with which you promptly proceed to step on your partners toes. What happens to your dream then? You have a vivid image of your dream, lying all shattered by your sadly inept feet… The more real the image, the more we spend time on research. After all, this way, you haven’t started yet, have you?

This is counter intuitive, many of us don’t take action because we are afraid of failure at the end of the path. But not taking action means we are failing everyday and what if at the end of the path is great success and fulfilment? How can we ever know, unless we move forward? Ah, what a sticky dilemma!

Observe the fear that you will not reach the goal and recognise it for what it is. Its a sign that you want to achieve your goal at all costs, a sign of your hunger. As any NLP practitioner will tell you, if you are focussed and hungry for an end goal and flexible with your strategy, you will eventually succeed.

Quentin Tarantino wanted to be an actor, realised he could not reach his dream that way and ended up directing several very successful films. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to write serious literature and drama but is most well known for Sherlock Holmes. Recognise that anything is better than not starting at all and that if you feel attraction towards a path and a goal, it is for a reason. Do not hesitate and start with the first step…

Its an excuse, I am just procrastinating

I am listing this reason here just because many of you would be expecting me to. In reality, procrastination can not be one of the reasons for your non-productive research. If you are taking your time analysing paths and strategies because you don’t feel attraction towards the goal, then its time to get back to the basics. Figure out whether the goal is right for you, is it your goal in the first place or something you have borrowed from the Joneses next door?

If you are stuck in analysis paralysis because you don’t feel attracted towards the end goal, its time to re look at the goal instead of pushing yourself forward.

Well, so you have decided to move forward, you say? Some tips to get you started.

  1. Pick the path that looks best to you at this instant
  2. Pick something small that will get you started and finish it within the next 2 hours.
  3. Then set another task you will finish in the next day and yet another one in this week. Do them.
  4. Search for the nearest support group. Dieting – search for weight-watchers, cycling – search for the nearest meet-up or cycling group that rides to work everyday.
  5. Write down your goals and the habits you need to accelerate yourself along the path, stick it up at a place where you can see it everyday
  6. Use Seinfeld’s chain to prod you along
  7. Enlist a friend to kick your behind, preferably someone you talk to often and is not afraid to say it as he sees it
As an old Irish blessing goes “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you softly in the palm of his hand.”.

All the best…

<a href=”http://enlightenedfish.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/PathInTheMiddleOfGreenFields.jpg”><img src=”http://enlightenedfish.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/PathInTheMiddleOfGreenFields-300×183.jpg” alt=”The Path” title=”Along the Path” width=”300″ height=”183″ class=”size-medium wp-image-165″ /></a>

Credit: <a rel=nofollow href=http://www.flickr.com/photos/tambako/>Tambako the Jaguar</a>

<address>”A man can reach God if he follows one path rightly. Then he can learn about all the other paths. It is like reaching the roof by some means or other. Then one is able to climb down by the wooden or stone stairs, by a bamboo pole, or even by a rope.” – Paramahamsa Sri Ramakrishna

</address>

Congratulations, you have a goal. What next?

For many of us, the next step is to analyse and weigh options, looking for the best path to move forward. We read up on the best ways to reach our goal be it weight loss, taking up chess or meditation and that keeps us happily occupied, till the goal no longer holds the same attraction for us. Soon a month has passed and we are no closer to the finish line.

Some of us even become experts on various paths to the goal. We can endlessly pontificate about the various ways to reach the goal and the pro’s and con’s, unfortunately, we haven’t made it yet. Its a sorry state, and you know what, this happens to a lot of us, including yours truly.

But wait! There is a reason why we need to understand every path, you say.

Planning increases my chance of success

This is true in a lot of cases, but there is a caveat. For planning, you need information and some level of experience. In areas where you have prior experience, its easy to start with a list of activities and fashion it into a plan, with intermediate goals and milestones and what not. But in cases where you have no prior experience, the initial list may be incomplete and that leads to endless analysis. This is the syndrome of the would be entrepreneur polishing up his business plan instead of down and dirty with starting a business. How to avoid this trap?

Identify what is the level of knowledge and experience you already have in what you want to do and depending on your answer, start in a learning mode – see where it leads you. You can get further information on the field by reading books and periodicals or better yet, talking to an expert in the area for more information, but whatever you do, get a bit of hands on experience before you look at any decision around paths.

Only when you start blogging do you realise that all the analysis around the best blogging platform, themes and SEO is just window dressing, the difficult part of blogging is the writing. Your mileage may vary but you will never know till you start.

I need to know which way ahead is best before moving along down the path

The key to breaking this objection is to understand whether the decision around path is reversible or irreversible. There are very few decisions that are totally irreversible. And there are very few decisions where the loss from taking the wrong path is more than the loss from indecision.

Think about the options open to you, generate a few more options to start on the same path and then pick the least risky. Instead of buying that hobby farm in France, try renting some land and figuring out if you are a farmer, better yet, join <a rel=”nofollow” title=”WWOOF” href=”http://www.wwoof.org/” target=”_blank”>WWOOF</a> (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) and see if you are cut out for the lifestyle.

Want to get fit? Start by running at a brisk clip down your street and see how far you go, hire a bicycle and go on a scenic ride around the city, get a trail pass at the gym and try out the equipment, these are all good options to tell you how fit you currently are and what sort of exercise suits you better. Instead of signing up for a full year, see if any trainers are willing to give you counselling for a month or two to see how you go. The options are endless and not as risky as you imagine once you decide to give it a shot.

I feel happy reading about stuff instead of doing, it’s research!

If you like reading, buying new gadgets, talking to people and endlessly researching, you tend to do all of it when faced with a choice rather than making the damn choice already! Its irresistible because you seem to be doing something productive (I am researching, exploring this new area…), when in reality you are not. What will tip you off when you are facing this obstacle is that you will see a lot of activity but will not be moving closer to the goal. In fact, if you observe carefully, the books you are reading and the research you are doing will be the least important thing you could be doing to move yourself toward the goal.

The key to avoiding this is to ask yourself the question. Is THIS the most important thing I could be doing NOW to reach my goal? If NOT, WHAT is the most important thing I could be doing to reach the goal? Go ahead, say it out loud and see where it leads you.

I am afraid I will fail – success is there, just not down this path or the next one…

This is fear of failure. The fear that you will make your choice, sign up for those dance classes, then discover that you have wooden legs with which you promptly proceed to step on your partners toes. What happens to your dream then? You have a vivid image of your dream, lying all shattered by your sadly inept feet… The more real the image, the more we spend time on research. After all, this way, you haven’t started yet, have you?

This is counter intuitive, many of us don’t take action because we are afraid of failure at the end of the path. But not taking action means we are failing everyday and what if at the end of the path is great success and fulfilment? How can we ever know, unless we move forward? Ah, what a sticky dilemma!

Observe the fear that you will not reach the goal and recognise it for what it is. Its a sign that you want to achieve your goal at all costs, a sign of your hunger. As any NLP practitioner will tell you, if you are focussed and hungry for an end goal and flexible with your strategy, you will eventually succeed.

Quentin Tarantino wanted to be an actor, realised he could not reach his dream that way and ended up directing several very successful films. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to write serious literature and drama but is most well known for Sherlock Holmes. Recognise that anything is better than not starting at all and that if you feel attraction towards a path and a goal, it is for a reason. Do not hesitate and start with the first step…

Its an excuse, I am just procrastinating

I am listing this reason here just because many of you would be expecting me to. In reality, procrastination can not be one of the reasons for your non-productive research. If you are taking your time analysing paths and strategies because you don’t feel attraction towards the goal, then its time to get back to the basics. Figure out whether the goal is right for you, is it your goal in the first place or something you have borrowed from the Joneses next door?

If you are stuck in analysis paralysis because you don’t feel attracted towards the end goal, its time to re look at the goal instead of pushing yourself forward.

Well, so you have decided to move forward, you say? Some tips to get you started.

1.Pick the path that looks best to you at this instant

2. Pick something small that will get you started and finish it within the next 2 hours.

3. Then set another task you will finish in the next day and yet another one in this week. Do them.

4. Search for the nearest support group. Dieting – search for weight-watchers, cycling – search for the nearest meet-up or cycling group that rides to work everyday.

5. Write down your goals and the habits you need to accelerate yourself along the path, stick it up at a place where you can see it everyday

6. Use <a rel=”nofollow” title=”Jerry Seinfeld’s chain” href=”http://lifehacker.com/281626/jerry-seinfelds-productivity-secret” target=”_blank”>Seinfeld’s chain</a> to prod you along

7. Enlist a friend to kick your behind, preferably someone you talk to often and is not afraid to say it as he sees it

<address>As an old Irish blessing goes “May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you softly in the palm of his hand.”.</address>



All the best…


You should follow me on twitter.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sac September 21, 2009 at 5:26 pm

Well I agree with you about over researching. Some people get caught into research overload because they believe it is absolutely imperative to become an expert on the subject at hand before they set out to do anything for themselves.

The following poem by R. D. Lang puts it in a light context:

There is something I don't know

That I am supposed to know.

I don't know what it is I don't know,

And yet am supposed to know,

And I feel I look stupid

If I seem both not to know

And not to know what it is I don't know.

Therefore, I pretend I know it.

This is nerve-wracking

Since I don't know what I must pretend

To know.

Therefore, I pretend to know everything.

I feel you know what I am supposed to know

But you can't tell me what it is

Because you don't know what I don't know

What it is.

You may know what I don't know, but not

That I don't know it.

And I can't tell you. So you will have

to tell me everything.

Reply

Krishna September 22, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Aaaarrgggghhh :-), its a great poem, thanks for that! And yes, its so true, the desire to know everything, all the time about everything is so anxiety provoking!

Reply

Madeleine September 21, 2009 at 6:45 pm

Some excellent ideas here, Krishan. I particularly liked the reference to Seinfeld's chain (I hadn't heard of that before) and the suggestion to pick a small (two hour) task to complete, then a task for the next day, and finally one for later in the week. This seems like a manageable and measureable way to get out of "analysis paralysis."

Something I saw on Steve Pavlina's blog caould be another way to stop lenghty rehashing of pro's and con's. That is to commit to try something for 30 days and stick to it. This works well when you're not sure that you'll like something. But 30 days isn't so long. At the end of 30 days, you assess. Either, "I'm glad that's over. I never want to do that again." or "OK, that was interesting. I got some benefit from that, but I'm still not so sure. I think I'll try it for another 30 days." or "That was great. I need to do this for the rest of my life.

Reply

Krishna September 22, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Thanks for that, Madeleine. The 30-day test is so interesting, and it sounds very effective too!

Reply

Patrick September 26, 2009 at 10:50 am

Krishna, thank you for this post. I recognized several excuses I used myself (You caught me here).

All thinks I got successful at where things I started without being afraid of where it might lead me. Like the blogging. I pondered about it for so long, afraid to start, when all I needed was to write the first article. And then another and learn as I go. I might polish designs etc. for ever, but as long as I write I can do window dressing by the way. And it is the same with nearly anything. I might not become the world greatest actor anymore, but I enjoy acting whenever I can, and I also enjoy teaching people to do it. Maybe I am an even better teacher than an actor, but I might not have found that out hadn't I started it (out of fun and with no plan in my head) several years ago. Thank you.

Reply

Krishna October 17, 2009 at 2:41 am

You know something Patrick. I recently fell prey to some of these traps recently. Couldn't get a post out for a month :-)! Looks like I caught myself :-). Great to hear this helped. Thank you.

Reply

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