Don’t Be In Motion, Take Action
December 31, 2020
In the book Atomic Habits, author James Clear shares a fascinating story about Professor Jerry Uelsmann, who ran a photography course at the University of Florida.
In an interesting experiment, the Professor divided his photography class into two groups. Students seated in the left half of the classroom were placed in the “quantity” group, while students in the Right half of the class were put into the “quality” group.
Students in the “quantity” group were to be graded solely on the number of photographs submitted. Anyone submitting a hundred photos would get an A, Ninety photos a B, eighty photos a C, and so on.
On the other hand, the students in the “quality” group were to be graded only on their work’s excellence. Every student had to produce only one photo during the semester. But, to get an A, the student had to turn in a nearly perfect image.
This experiment produced a remarkable outcome. Counterintuitively, the best photos came from the students in the “quantity” group, while the “quality” students could muster just a few mediocre photos. How could this come to be?
During the semester, the “quantity” students were busy taking photos, experimenting with the lighting and composition, testing out different methods in the darkroom, and learning from their mistakes. By taking multiple photos, the quantity group students honed their overall photography skills to deliver some great photographs.
In contrast, the students of the “quality” group were paralyzed, speculating about perfection. In their quest for that perfect photo, these students spent most of their time researching, strategizing, and planning. They forgot to experiment, learn by trying and doing more. At the end of the semester, they delivered sub-standard work.
Being In Motion Vs. Taking Action
James Clear, the author, calls this process of obsessive planning, strategizing, and learning as Being in Motion. It’s good to have some planning and strategizing, but they don’t produce any result or outcome in themselves.
It is actually “doing” that delivers any result.
If I research twenty different ideas for the blogs I wish to write, I would Be In Motion. When I sit down and, without worrying about quality, I am taking action.
Put In The Work First
It’s the eve of the New Year, and for many, it’s the season of new resolutions. New projects to undertake, old habits to discard, and new ones to develop.
I have this simple mental model developed for any new personal development ritual that I wish to build.
Initially, don’t waste any time whatsoever in planning, reading, figuring out, etc. Being in Motion lulls you into feeling like you are getting things done when you are just preparing to do something. The process of planning and strategizing is an insidious form of procrastination to avoid doing real work.
When embarking on new habits, new rituals, you should focus on just doing. It does not matter how much. What matters more is frequency. Ten minutes a day without fail is more valuable than planning for an hour every day and missing three times a week.
Over the last few years, I have discovered that it is possible to go after anything that you wish to do. The secret is in getting the reps in. Consistency eats intensity for lunch any day.
Want to write, learn music, pick up a sport, become more organized, become calmer, learn meditation, learn coding, digital marketing, or anything that you have wanted to do for a long time? Don’t hold back. Take Action. You don’t deserve the regret of not realizing your desires.
All you require is a simple resolve- to take the first step and follow it up with the next step and the next step after that.
A journey of thousand miles starts with that first step.