November 23, 2018

Execution In A Procrastinating World

“Just do it” - “What are you waiting for?” - “Stop overthinking”

We’ve all heard words of sagely advice from our friends, family, and colleagues. At this point, the value and necessity of taking action is well known with countless articles, books, ebooks and meditation apps offering words of advice and encouragement to gain some traction. The trouble is though, with the abundance of knowledge out there, it can be crippling knowing which decision or method to take is the “right one”. We can agonize over these decisions which in turn puts us right back to where we started.

When it comes to your business, whether that be in the private sector or if you’re (like me) in the entertainment industry, you can’t afford to procrastinate in a state of paralyzation. You need to know when to just get down to work amongst all the noise of what path is best to take.

Here are a few tips to cut down on the noise and get shit done:


Sounds cliche, but this is the first step. You have to develop some self-awareness that results in taking care of yourself and getting into the right headspace. It’s vitally important so that you can start making some good strategic decisions.

In the fast-paced world we live in, we have learned from all corners that running a business, or to achieve success requires a hell of a lot of self-sacrifices. People are quick to brag about losing sleep, the long hours and not eating because they have so much to do. If any of this relates to you, I have to ask a simple question: Are you running the marathon or the sprint?

I ask this not to be somewhat profound in my thinking but simply due to first-hand experience as a witness to peers around me. Creatives are brilliant people, talented and eccentric, I love the industry that I’m in but from my experience, even the most talented people who I’ve had the good fortune in knowing, give up when things don’t go their way quickly.

When things get tense and busy, I personally use the gym as my sanctuary. A time to switch off and focus on outcomes I can control instead of the uncertainty that can happen outside of such a singular environment.

So in saying that, when the stress levels are high, your productivity is reduced. Therefore, take care of you - it’s okay to take a break.

Motion VS Action:

A recent book I read called Atomic Habits by James Clear had some supremely valid and memorable anecdotes in relation to this article. He talks about people being in motion and taking action and clearly differentiates the two.

“When you are in motion, you’re planning, strategizing and learning. Those are all good things but don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behaviour that will deliver an outcome.”

Here are some examples…

  • If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually write and publish an article, that’s action.
  • If I email 10 new leads for my business and start conversations with them, that’s motion. If they actually buy something and turn into a customer, that’s action.
  • If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.
  • If I go to the gym and ask about getting a personal trainer, that’s motion. If I actually step under the bar and start squatting, that’s action.
  • If I study for a test or prepare for a research project, that’s motion. If I actually take the test or write my research paper, that’s action.

All the above points feed into the theme of what I’m trying to say. That it’s actually pretty easy to think of an idea for a new screenplay, but harder to sit down and let the pen flow. A lot of this is about changing your critical and internal lens in how you see executing action. If the task seems overwhelmingly large, there is no reason not to break the task into bitesize chunks. Train your brain and calibrate it in a way to execute broken down tasks and soon, that proposal you were writing, that business plan you were mapping and that production schedule you were detailing will be a reality. The key thing is that motion is useful, but will never produce a result by itself.

Overcoming Fear:

I’ve been lucky in having some really strong and supportive allies and mentors in the entertainment industry, but overcoming my personal fears is something which I had (and continue) to do alone.

I feel that people have a somewhat unfair and muddy view of what courage is. Everyone is afraid of something. It’s very normal to have concerns over your physical, emotional and financial survival. Courage is not about being unafraid. Courage is simply about moving forwards in spite of fear. And here’s a not-so-little-known fact that I’ve learned: When you confront your fears and take the plunge into that pool of doubt, your fears start to diminish and self-esteem and self-confidence increase.

Spare Me The Philosophy Lesson...:

Let’s round this all up now. The key to executing in a procrastinating world is to not fall into the norm and fall into the trap of all the excess noise. Average people see the goal they want to achieve but fall short of actually taking steps to get there. Innovators, entrepreneurs, business people all have a propensity to see the end result, get excited and then just end up talking about it whilst the exceptional ones overtake them. The steps to being exceptional lies in action, action, action, with a smidge of strategizing along the way. Ideas are cheap, execution is everything.

Now go Chang-e the world.

Written by Alex Chang
CEO & Co-Founder, Bridge The Moon

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