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We are not measured by our intentions, but by our actions

Improving Systems and Habits

Scott Miker is the author of several books that describe how to use systems and habits to improve.  This free blog provides articles that to help understand the principles related to building systems.  

We are not measured by our intentions, but by our actions

Scott Miker

I tend to be very analytical.  This helps in a lot of ways but when I was younger I had a difficult time moving from that “thinking” state to one of action.  I seemed to know what to do but somehow couldn’t go do it.

I am reading a book by Ohio State University football coach Urban Meyer.  It is a great book by someone who has achieved great things in his professional life but also went too far and almost destroyed his health and personal life in the process. 

The book talks quite a bit about getting to action and making sure that behavior is following what is being thought and said.  One line really stood out to me.  He said, “We are not measured by our intentions, but by our actions.”

One of my favorite authors, Wayne Dyer wrote books on the Power of Intention.  I truly enjoy all of Dyer’s work and read as much of it as possible.  But he is always quick to point out that intention leads to actions and it still takes work to achieve goals.  It isn’t intention alone.

Some books seem to gloss over the action part.  One book I read years ago argued that it isn’t about hard work, it is simply about thinking the right thoughts.  But from my experience, the behaviors and actions are much more powerful than the thoughts.  In fact, thoughts only become powerful when you can develop the right behaviors to bring the thoughts to life.

If you find yourself in a situation where you overanalyze, don’t get stressed about it.  Once you are able to tie in the action and behavior elements analyzing is extremely beneficial.  But shift your focus and effort to be on consistently developing the right behaviors.

Find ways to change your behavior systematically.  Once you do and can continue to rely on these routines over and over again they will start to form new habits.  Once they are habits they start to define who you are and how you react to situations.  But this won’t come without the action component. 

Ghandi once said, “your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values and your values become your destiny.”

In order to move beyond empty words and thoughts, start to find small systematic routine changes that you can use to move into the action element.  Once you do a new perspective will open up.

For me it seemed like things just started to click.  Suddenly the analysis in my head led to actual changes and adjustments.  This is the key.  By being able to take action on the plans, thoughts, analysis etc. in our heads we can leverage that to reach success. 

There is a popular quote by Aristotle that talks about habits.  I have always enjoyed this quote but recently found an extended version of it.  To me this further shows the importance of taking action. 

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation.  We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly.  We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”