Self Improvement

7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit

People at the top of every profession share one quality — they get things done. This ability supercedes intelligence, talent, and connections in determining the size of your salary and the speed of your advancement.

Despite the simplicity of this concept there is a perpetual shortage of people who excel at getting results. The action habit — the habit of putting ideas into action now — is essential to getting things done. Here are 7 ways you can grow the action habit:

1. Don’t wait until conditions are perfect
– If you’re waiting to start until conditions are perfect, you probably never will. There will always be something that isn’t quite right. Either the timing is off, the market is down, or there’s too much competition. In the real world there is no perfect time to start. You have to take action and deal with problems as they arise. The best time to start was last year. The second best time is right now.

2. Be a doer - Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. Do you want to start exercising? Do you have a great idea to pitch your boss? Do it today. The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. After a few days the details gets hazy. After a week it’s forgotten completely. By becoming a doer you’ll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

3. Remember that ideas alone don’t bring success
– Ideas are important, but they’re only valuable after they’ve been implemented. One average idea that’s been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you’re saving for “some other day” or the “right opportunity”. If you have an idea the you really believe in, do something about it. Unless you take action it will never go anywhere.

4. Use action to cure fear
– Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak? Even professional speakers and actors experience pre-performance anxiety. Once they get started the fear disappears. Action is the best cure for fear. The most difficult time to take action is the very first time. After the ball is rolling, you’ll build confidence and things will keep getting easier. Kill fear by taking action and build on that confidence.

5. Start your creative engine mechanically – One of the biggest misconceptions about creative work is that it can only be done when inspiration strikes. If you wait for inspiration to slap you in the face, your work sessions will be few and far between. Instead of waiting, start your creative motor mechanically. If you need to write something, force yourself to sit down and write. Put pen to paper. Brainstorm. Doodle. By moving your hands you’ll stimulate the flow of ideas and inspire yourself.

6. Live in the present
- Focus on what you can do in the present moment. Don’t worry about what you should have done last week or what you might be able to do tomorrow. The only time you can affect is the present. If you speculate too much about the past or the future you won’t get anything done. Tomorrow or next week frequently turns into never.

7. Get down to business immediately – It’s common practice for people to socialize and make small talk at the beginning of meetings. The same is true for individual workers. How often do you check email or RSS feeds before doing any real work? These distractions will cost you serious time if you don’t bypass them and get down to business immediately. By becoming someone who gets to the point you’ll be more productive and people will look to you as a leader.

It takes courage to take action without instructions from the person in charge. Perhaps that’s why initiative is a rare quality that’s coveted by managers and executives everywhere. Seize the initiative. When you have a good idea, start implementing it without being told. Once people see you’re serious about getting things done they’ll want to join in. The people at the top don’t have anyone telling them what to do. If you want to join them, you should get used to acting independently.

Note: This list was inspired by The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz. The book is highly recommended.


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Related Articles:

How To Increase Self Discipline

How To Motivate Yourself


  • http://www.blantonio.us Blantonious

    Very well put together. This describes about half of what I am doing constantly. Always working on something for little or no pay and the situation is never perfect but I keep moving forward, always taking action. One day I know that my efforts will have a break through. I think taking action is key and not sitting on ideas until something else happens.

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    • Hassan Bakare

      I am sincerely moltivated by thie post, i have always been that person who hardly use my intiative but i have always tried and with this i will win the act of using my initiative by starting NOW. Thank you

  • http://www.craigharper.com.au Craig Harper

    Hey John,
    Absolutely right. “Don’t wait until conditions are perfect”.
    As you quite rightly point out “there is never a right time”.
    Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.
    Craig

  • http://stresstopower.com/blog Jean Browman–StressToPower

    Great points. I would add that the easiest way to motivate yourself is to enjoy the process. If you can’t figure out how to enjoy yourself, a part of you will always be dragging its feet.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    I agree, Jean. That’s a great point! I wonder how I missed it.

  • http://jeff-green.blogspot.com Jeff Green

    Great input and very valuable! I’ve linked from my own home as well.

    Cheers

  • http://nomailmail.net ab

    Doing sure beats thinking about it. :) Good point.

  • http://www.psych101online.com Helen

    I agree with the list, most especially with being a doer because habits are only developed if we apply them in our daily lives. Practice is the key factor in developing something into a habit.

  • Adrian

    Point No.7 – I checked my email then read this blog entry and a half dozen other before opening Visual Studio today.

  • http://www.alobarsquest.com Devon

    These are all very valuable. I have come to the same way of thinking over time, but have never seen them put together in a list like this. I am going to pass this along via my blog as well. Thank you for putting a lasso around these ideas and getting them into a shareable format.

  • http://www.dottiddydot.com Carlton

    Let’s activate this going forward. I’m going take positive steps to creating a new mindspace based on this very solution. Cheers!

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  • Johnny

    Point 5 is so true. Getting started is always a problem for me, I am always looking for the right moment or some thing to trigger me to get going. I have only recently learned to just “dive in” to what I have to do. Just start tinkering around with whatever task you have to do and it will eventually get rolling.

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  • http://yourplanofaction.com Shaun

    Excellent list.
    The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.
    – Vince Lombardi

  • http://stopdoingnothing.com Patrick Allmond

    #2 and #4 are the absolute most important items on this list. If you do nothing else get up every day and do something. But please… just stop doing nothing.

    Patrick
    http://StopDoingNothing.com

  • http://cheeseburgerbrown.com Cheeseburger Brown

    “Do or do not — there is no try.”

    -Frank Oz with his hand up Yoda’s keister.

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  • http://www.horizonplastics.ca 10668844

    Probably the most important item listed here, they are all good, is turn fear into action, I’ve been working with that concept since I was about 20, now I’m 30 and I’m finally getting it down as a constant response.

    I’m not saying to ignore fear all together, but know when it’s genuine fear because you’re life is in danger, or just fear of trying.

  • PC

    If I hadn’t checked Digg before working, I wouldn’t have known I shouldn’t check Digg before working.
    :D

    now I know, and, when the conditions are perfect, I’ll start working before checking Digg.
    If only I wasn’t so scared of the future, and the mistakes of the past, I’d be more apt to get doing things, instead of only thinking about them while waiting for inspiration to hit me, and sitting perfectly still so as not to chase away the muse.

  • Malochio

    1st corollary to Ben Franklin’s “Put Off”

    “Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.”

  • One more important point – reward yourself

    This one took me a while to learn: If you don’t reward yourself and take a rest once in a while, you will lose your motivation, and even damage your health. You need to keep in mind *what you are working for* — generally, its to attain a sense of security and accomplishment, support your family. *That* is the goal, and you should keep it always in mind.

  • OLUREMI OLAKUNLE

    Great ideas.Will pass them on.What cure for laziness!

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  • http://www.writenow.wordpress.com Shirley Buxton

    Excellent list. I’ve used it as the core of my post today.

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  • http://tubagbohol.mikeligalig.com Tubag Bohol

    Thanks for this post. So enlightening.

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    Please. It hurts… :)

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  • rocketeerian

    Nice post, but it basically encourages someone to become arrogant headless chicken.

    Listen to yourself :
    “Do you have a great idea to pitch your boss? Do it today”
    “The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. ” “Be a crusader”

    I would rather suggest : If you have an idea, wait one week before acting.
    A good idea will grow stronger, stupid ideas will go away.

    Acting without thinking, will make you look like a doer, instead of a thinker, indeed. There’s enough selfish “crusader” action in this world already. No need to generate more junk : instead of stimulating the amount of ideas, rather you could set your target to filtering your ideas yourself before polluting your environment.

  • http://www.best-of-time-management.com/values.htm Pamela

    Great points. It’s a common mistake for most of us to wait for the perfect time. We should learn how to grab opportunities as soon as we see it because others might grab it while we are away.

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  • // Mike D

    I agree with these points. However, I’m concerned that the author of this article appears to be presenting them as his own ideas. This list of 8 items is very, very similar to another list of 8 items that appears in the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz

  • Helen Thomson

    This is certainly a very interesting article: I like the simplicity of the central concept, ie get into the habit of getting stuff done, and thereby stave off procrastination and keep your ideas fresh.

    Plant lots and lots of good plants, don’t leave room for weeds, and avoid the risk that your seed will cease to be viable down the track.

    It makes sense: action is the primary element in any process of implementing an idea, both in the sense that it’s the most important element, and the first thing that has to happen in order for implementation to occur at all. A seed won’t grow before it’s watered.

    BUT.

    The whole concept ignores what happens next. Let’s assume that you adopt the Action Habit: every idea you have, you make speedy action your priority. Every seed you have, you plant immediately. The risk is that you rush off in fifty directions at once, leaving no room for following through. The seeds choke each other, or fall on stony ground and wither: very few indeed come to any meaningful kind of fruition (this, I know to my cost, having seen this exact phenomenon in action both in my own work and in that of others).

    So my first question is, how do you balance your action habit, your “plant while the sun shines” behaviour, unquestionably a good idea, with the need for focus, persistence, providing your seedlings with the best opportunity to grow to maturity?

    I suppose one might set up some sort of system for prioritising ideas. One might, for example, give implementing an idea greater priority if it serves other goals – or, even if it doesn’t, if it’s not going to tie you up long-term, then you might choose to act anyway. I’d love to hear about other possible solutions.

    Let’s assume, for the moment, that you do put some such prioritisation system in place. Whichever way you cut it, this is going to lead to some ideas being shelved, at least temporarily; which brings us back to the undeniable issue of ideas “going off” if you don’t act on them immediately.

    So herein lies my second question: why is it so? What is it about an idea that gives it this “shelf life”, and what, if anything, can be done about it?

    Love to hear any thoughts.

    Cheers
    H

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    • Dilip

      I agree with your point of  ”Not being able to follow through”.  How does one address that?  Does anyone have a solution?

      • Robin

        ok The economy is like a seed if you don’t put the money out there and let it flow it will not grow its the same as sowing seeds so if people are afraid to let money work for them then we wi be in this shape for a very long time .So please plant some seeds everyone can prosper.May the Lord be with you.

    • as

      pathetic…

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    It sounds as if Mike D is right, your list is too close to Schwartz’s book not to give him credit. You could still have added your own words, and you would be doing people a favor by putting these ideas on the web instead of people having to buy the book. This way you lose credibility when people notice how much you have “borrowed” without proper attribution.

  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    You’re right. I’ve added a note referencing The Magic of Thinking Big. It inspired me and I should have referenced it from the beginning.

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  • http://www.pickthebrain.com John Wesley

    Aside from the actual items though, I did write all the descriptions myself. The book has no descriptions.

  • http://cheerfulmonk.com Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk

    I think your post has added a lot to the list.

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  • http://www.rangdeindya.com Nishant Katoch

    Beautiful article. I echo whatever you have said and due to this habbit I was single handedly able to create my website. (www.rangdeindya.com) .

    What I have learned in this process is:
    1) Don’t wait for anyone, just start moving and if you have a vision, you will eventually see people following you.
    2) Mediocre minds consider them leaders. The leader is the one, who when needed stands as a vanguard and protects everyone.
    3) Never worry about result, If you believe yourself, just follow ur heart.

    Once again excellent article.

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  • http://brucewagner.com Bruce Wagner

    Once I posted a quick little blog item on my blog, almost verbatum, from the source… I guess I was too lazy and rushed to cite the proper credit…

    wow! I was called on it within 20 minutes… And I remember thinking, “Good!” isn’t the Internet awesome!? It keeps us all very honest… While giving Everyone a voice…

    All these ideas are great. Of course, prioritization must happen too…

    My biggest challenge is with prioritizing. How to organiS that Master ToDo List of hundreds of tasks…. And how to pick the three i will actually do today.

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  • wei

    Great points. Great thanks.

  • http://www.dougwoods.com Douglas Woods

    “Remember that ideas alone don’t bring success”
    This is very true, success has been cited as being 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. The trouble for many is that you really do need to have that 10% first. In other words you have to have the ideas first.Getting the ideas is a problem for many people and with a bit of work and guidance it is possible for each of us to explore and record our thoughts and ideas, select the best one(s) and then work on achieving them.

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  • http://www.wisdomgettingloaded.com/ tracy ho

    Hai,
    You have such agood point out there,
    thanks for sharing,
    Tracy ho
    Wisdom Getting Loaded

  • bisan

    i dont know if always actig in a rush ways is the right way always,,as we learned in our business books to think and to put a plans befor immpleminting,,but may be doing thing is better than to regret not doing them :)

    bisan
    4-1-2008

  • alvin

    im shy
    very shy

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          Not much on my mind worth mentioning. What can I say? I haven’t been up to much lately. It’s not important. Oh well.,

  • alvin

    what should i do if im shy

  • keith

    i don’t know

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  • http://www.liveloaded.com Jason at LiveLoaded.com

    Great post, and some great ideas on how to develop an action mindset and become a ‘doer’ instead of just a ‘thinker’

    Changing your mindset is the best way to really become action oriented. I was a thinker all my life, until I realized that I was getting nowhere with my thoughts. What does it matter if I’m smart and well read if I can’t seem to accomplish anything meaningful in life?

    EXACTLY!

    I was finally able to change my mindset after reading ‘The Power of Concentration’ by Theron Q Dumont, using the Intelligent Warrior subliminal message videos, and just practicing – doing instead of thinking.

    Over time things become automatic, as they are drilled into the recesses of your guiding subconscious. The work is well worth the effort!

    All my best,

    Jason
    Subliminal Success
    http://www.liveloaded.com

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  • http://www.nontraditionallawstudent.com Larry

    Great list of advice. The one I like most is not waiting until conditions are perfect, which is something I sometimes struggle with. Kudos.

  • malochio

    “A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” George S. Patton Jr.

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  • http://www.artofallowingmindset.com BZ Riger, the path to a woman’s inner game to wealth

    Insightful post, I think your point about starting your creativity mechanically, is a good one. Set aside time each day to do the work on that creative project and begin once the time you have set aside begins.
    You will give the spaqce for your creativity to show up.
    It will be a way for you to turn on your creative juices because you are honoring your creativity and providing a regular space for it to pour out of you. All 7 points very helpful.

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  • Sachinbaba

    I totally agree with all 7 habits. They are so true, but if you really wanna follow them you gotta get out of your comfort zone, it sucks all your time and energy. get out of comfort zone, face the heat.

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  • http://www.realgroup.co.in suresh

    excellent article … I am very much impressed and try to implement.
    Really helpful for all.

    Thanks for sharing.

    suresh
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  • Will

    I’ve had your link and summary in my inbox for about a year now. It always does the job. Thanks for putting it together. Kudos!

  • Shahed

    Another Great article
    John you have some really good stuff here that people should read.

  • http://www.nuacco.net/resources/ More traffic

    Insightful post, I think your point about starting your creativity mechanically, is a good one. Set aside time each day to do the work on that creative project and begin once the time you have set aside begins.

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  • http://www.2knowmyself.com farouk

    i also want to add, that focusing on the task itself and avoiding doing anything in between helps alot to get the task done quickly
    thank u:)

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  • http://www.ebook-of-the-week.com/sqz/index.html Naveen

    John

    Another great post.

    I can relate directly to point # 5.

    I am a Toastmaster (member of a public speaking organization) and have had to commit on several occasions to speak on a particular date even when I had no speech ready.

    On one occasion I committed to speak to a District conference for an audience of 70 people!

    Without sounding like a boast I always got through.

    The commitment and the fear of failing in public are powerful motivators to get yourself to take action.

    Naveen

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  • http://timelesslessons.com Valeria | TimelessLessons

    Probably the most important item listed here (they are all good) is turn fear into action, I’ve been working with that concept since I was about 20, now I’m 30 and I’m finally getting it down as a constant response.

    I’m not saying to ignore fear all together, but know when it’s genuine fear because you’re life is in danger, or just fear of trying.

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  • http://www.helpme.com/blog Saikat

    Some great points. What I find most actionable is – To live in the present moment AND To just do it.

    As with any action its important to just take the first step and then momentum overcomes the inertia. Isn’t that what basic physics all about?

  • http://wisecurve.com Relax

    Keep the momentum rolling! :)

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  • http://www.motivationalmemo.com/the-noose-called-excuse/#more-552 Peter Sinclair

    There is a flame that is lit within my heart every time that I consult with a great mind. It is often sparked by a book, a conversation, a speech, a movie, a song, a scene or even a sign.

    And if I am ever ready to be lit up with inspiration, there is an immediate point of ignition from which creative thought, accompanied by corresponding action, is loosed – like rocket fuel. It causes an explosion, and I cannot but be inspired to be transformed into ‘the creator’.

    But the fuel best foraged for such momentous events is a life filled with expectation to receive. That alone prepares the recipient for the flash.

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    Like the articles too many people I see, they only think and thought about it and no action.I am the guy who takes action, that’s why I start blogging to fufill my need as entrepreneur.Great post

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    I am deeply motivated by this post. This is my first time to visit your website and based from what I read I realized that I should become a doer. I have been putting off responsibilities with an excuse that I am still young and should worry things later. But i guess that mentality is wrong. I just put up a blog. It’s more of an accountability blog for myself to check on my progress on any change I want to happen. I’m scared but i must try!

    Thanks for the great read!

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  • http://improveminduniversity.blogspot.com jonathan figaro

    This an excellent post. Putting action behind you thoughts creates a habit. Once you create a habit of doing while thinking in the direction of success you create a character, and a character creates a destiny….

    1. think big
    2. persevere
    3. act
    4. have fun

    Any thoughts?

  • http://www.knowthyselfpower.com/index.php quatro

    Great post! direct hit, “action” speaks and i agree to your word “use action to cure fear”.

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  • dixichik

    Nice post! Thanks for the pep talk; my motivation is recharging. “Rocketeerian” made a valid point about waiting a few days to filter your ideas (review) then pick the best ones and start planning / working.

    I admit I am a thinker and ideas are always there. I brainstorm alot. I can start many things but then do not always follow through so I need then really to prioritize and get on with it. Then I will either succeed or fail and learn either way and build upon these efforts.

    One more thing…I have worked with people who did not like change and wanted detailed procedures to be followed because that’s the way things were always done.
    Very stifling. Or a manager wants everything run by them before a move is made. Again, stifling if you are responsible or accountable for going beyond just meeting the daily routine. Well,I’m gone now. whew

  • David Ainsworth

    Learn to spell. It’s supersede, not supercede.

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  • http://www.findinspirationtoday.com Mike aka Find Inspiration

    Enjoyed the post – taking action is critical to success with everything in life. It’s an acquired skill and it starts with practicing being a doer.

  • http://www.findinspirationtoday.com Mike aka Find Inspiration

    A wonderful list – I especially enjoy the part about Living in the Present!

  • http://www.day2pill.com Me

    Good points, I think I will definitely subscribe! I’ll go and read some more! What do you see the future of this being?

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  • http://www.OptimisticJourney.com Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    Great post!

    I also believe in being consistent. Implementing all the steps in on a consistent basis will be beneficial as well.

    Thanks for such great tips!

  • http://www.powerofapositivemind.com Ryan Critchett

    Very Cool! I especially like where you said “ideas don’t bring success!” I agree completely. Your ability to transform those ideas into reality is the determining factor on the quality of your actions! Great article.

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  • Edward

    very nice one! thank you! thank you! :)

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    Great tips and advice which I have linked in my blog post at http://consciousinnerbeauty.typepad.com under the title: ‘Activate Action’.

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    Thanks.

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  • palo

    big true in this article. i will print it out and hang over my workdesk for sure

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    Like this article…

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  • http://www.smallcompany.biz Brian Satterlee

    Loved this article! Most people make big plans but take no actions… taking action is much more important than having everything be perfect.

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    This is true, I also have make plan so many time but never implemented it. I think I will start executing plan from tomorrow. no sorry from today & right now. Thanks for the great article.

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  • http://www.successatreach.com Nabil Gulamani

    Being a doer is definitely important..Many people are caught up in the over analytic  mindset that stops that from taking action…

    Thanks for sharing..

    Cheers,
    Nabil

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  • http://www.onlinecounsellingservice.co.uk/ The Online Counselling Service

    Thank you for sharing this. The tips are great!

  • http://www.onlinecounsellingservice.co.uk/ The Online Counselling Service

    Thank you for sharing this. The tips are great!

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  • Michael

    Since being a young kid I was always happy, people commented about me singing to myself and always having a smile. The happiest time in my life was when I got married and had 4 children, but in 2005 my Mormon wife abducted the children abroad. The court cases that followed had me punished both emotionally and financially as I found that being a father in England means nothing. my ex wife was rewarded with 80% of all the finances and my children sentenced to live abroad. It costs me £500 a month to drive for 16 hours to go visit them for a 12 hour period.
    I’m now suffering at work, at home with huge debts and threats of legal action, I try to keep it together but im not sure how much longer i can keep it up.
    Last couple of weeks ive been on a few dates and felt good, she dumped me today… and ive also been told today that im losing my job. I feel more and more isolated at work and can see that despite my trying to be nice and friendly I cant make any friends here. I sit in the canteen on a busy day all on my own, I dont know why… im not shy but I just cant seem to kick this cycle.
    Nobody seems to understand the devestation it causes having your 4 children taken away when you have done absolutely nothing wrong, having all your money taken away and replaced with debt and running just to stand still with work.
    Inside there is this happy kid still trapped away – but nobody can see him, ive tried to bring him out but he is fading away and an empty hole is being left in its place.

    • mark the perfect man

      Micheal- Its time to consider whether you personally are going to cary this load, or ask for help. Being naturally happy and aware is so important. Do you share this peace and joy? Sounds like you are in a struggle! Solutions to a fulfilled life are sometime slow, it seems that a change in thought would “right the ship” right away. Remember peace does not depend on outward, but inward grace and trust. Don’t stop caring! Don’t be afraid to do what you must do if it is clear. Religion has so many isms claiming “her is the way” . The conscious comfort of a calm heart will show you how this is to play out.
      For Me, I would stop and pray more, listen more, and have faith that can move mountains. All relationships – work, love, family are strengthened by value decisions. Act on those values for a start.

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    Great Article And Nice BLOG , Thanks

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  • Sumitneema1988

    Awesome…I always tend to think only event at my office in my working time i use to spend a lot of time in thinking but now after reading this post i realize that any thought is meaningless until it is implemented .

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  • Alon jathan

    This was really great to read these are things that I am currently on self improvement ,which does not happen over night as long as you put it into practice.

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  • bob

    Thank YOu!

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  • shadowman

    This is what seperates pump-talk from progress..