Motion vs Action

22nd April 2022

When a couple of the team from Inspirations HQ made the recent drive to Daylesford in Victoria for the photography of A Passion for Needlework IV, we helped pass some of the almost eight-hour drive by listening to podcasts.

One of the podcasts that piqued our curiosity was Brene Brown’s ‘Dare to Lead Podcast’ with James Clear. James writes about habits, decision making and continuous improvement in his book ‘Atomic Habits’.

Of the many insights we gained from their conversation, one that’s remained with us was James’ insight into the difference between Being in Motion and Taking Action.

Whilst they may sound similar, ‘when you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategising and learning, but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.’

Taking our time with needle and thread, motion is when we’re deciding on that just right project, sourcing supplies, researching techniques and practising stitches for what may be the umpteenth time, whereas action is when we finally lay the first stitch and continue doing so right through until the final stitch is laid.

Whilst the time spent in motion is useful, it will never produce an outcome in and of itself. It is only when we move to action that we’ll accomplish what we set out to achieve. 

Why then do we so often find ourselves spending a disproportionate amount of time in motion rather than action?!

Sure, there are times we do it because we actually need to plan or learn more. Typically though, it’s because we want to delay failure and motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure.  

So how can we move from motion to action? 

In an excerpt from his book, Atomic Habits, James suggests two things that have helped him: 

  1. Set a schedule for your actions. You may choose a set day of the week, or a specific time each day, but once you’ve set a schedule for your actions, stick to it.
  • Pick a date to shift from motion to action. For those projects that can’t be completed on a specific day or time, one way to compel yourself to make the shift is by setting a hard deadline of when you’ll move from planning to action.

It’s important to remember that motion will never produce a final result, only action will. So next time we find ourselves hesitating to put needle and thread to fabric as we embark upon just one more Google search about the stitching before us, we need to ask ourselves if we’re doing something or just preparing to do it, if we’re in motion or actually taking action.

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