Michael E. Berrett, PhD
Every moment of time is a moment of choice. One of the primary choices we have, at any moment in time, is to live “present and engaged,” or “trapped in avoidance.” Long ago, a great spiritual leader taught consistently that we should “Just do it.” His plea for action was related to “doing good in the world.” I well remember that teaching. Later in my life, I have again been influenced, this time by a great leader in the world of healthcare, who has likewise encouraged me to “Just do it.” His message has been related to both “transcending hesitation” and “defying complacency.” These wise and timely messages have impacted my life for good, and I am grateful for the teaching received. “Just do it” has been a well taught and valuable principle long before a prominent sports equipment company popularized it as a catch phrase.
So why would any of us choose to “avoid” rather than “engage” in life at any moment? I propose two main reasons: 1) Fear, and 2) Complacency. Both fear and complacency are enemies to personal and organizational growth. People are often afraid of making mistakes, failure, loss of respect, loss of love, being rejected, not being “enough,” and the simple fear of the “unknowns” of change. When we become complacent, we are willing to “float”, live with the status quo, accept what we do without striving to do better, and we may accept mediocrity. The impact and consequence of allowing fear to get in the way of what we want, or we know we need to do, is loss of self-respect, and thus, weakened self-esteem. The consequence of complacency is boredom, loss of energy, and “settling for” that which is less in our lives than that which we can do and can become.
On the other hand, the impact of choosing to live the “Just do it” principle is positive and profound: presence, engagement, energy, activity, power, efficiency, productivity, self-respect, a life more fulfilling, frequent successes, and a feeling of self-respect and peace – even when the outcome is not what we had hoped for.
We would do well to ask: “How am I doing on living this ’Just do it’ principle?” A starting point on the pathway to “Just doing it,” is an honest and hard look at how we are doing. Self-reflection, self-assessment, and consequent self-awareness can be the beginning point for new self-growth. We can ask and honestly answer questions like the following:
- What do I want in my life- from the simplest to the deepest desire?
- What am I avoiding in my life?
- What do I need to change in my relationships and my life?
- What do I need to STOP doing now in my life?
- What do I need to START doing in my life now?
- In pursuing my desires and my dreams, what am I waiting for?
- What is the first or next step?
- With whom can I share my commitment to move forward?
- What are my key reasons to cease avoiding, face fear now, and grow as an individual?
After reflection, assessment, awareness, and understanding of self, we can choose one area for needed action, and take a step. Where do you most need to move forward in your life? In what area of life do you most need to “Just do it! and do it now?” Consider possibilities such as these:
- Get vulnerable now
- Ask the question you have, but have not asked
- Say I love you
- Say I am sorry
- Identify your dream
- Proclaim to yourself and others, a purpose of your life
- Take a risk
- Say hello
- Connect with someone
- Create a deeper connection
- Ask a deeper question
- Face a fear
- Take the first or another small step
- Stop doing what you need to stop doing – and do that now!
- Start doing what you need to start doing – and do that now!
In considering “stepping up” your allegiance to this principle of “Just do it,” you may feel both frustrated and fearful. You may feel a little similar to a person who is suffering from anorexia, who has been told for the 3,000th time, “just pick up your fork and eat.” Along with you, I also know that it is not that simple and not that easy. We know that this illness has layers of depth which need to be honored and addressed. Still, however, at the end of the day, after all the preparations, the steps, the support, and the considerations, those suffering will have to lift up the fork through layers of illness and fear, to overcome this illness. Gratefully, while not simple or easy, it is both necessary and possible, and there is support around us, if we will but ask, as we take steps forward in our lives. We are not alone, even when we think we are.
Perhaps the first step for us is “willingness:” Willingness to be vulnerable, to take a risk, have courage, and to take the step without guarantee of outcome. Presence, willingness, vulnerability, courage, engagement, and activity are not easy, yet the good things in life require these things.
Are you scared to take the step? I get scared sometimes too. Luckily, we have a few basic truths that will help us:
- We don’t have to do it all at once. We just have to start all at once. We need only take that first step, followed by commitment and action of successive steps. We have to reach some clarity of need and desire, commit to the cause, make a brief starting plan, and – step into it.
- We don’t have to do anything perfectly. We can and will make some mistakes. We can and will “fall short” at times. We just have to give it our best in the moment, and then make self- corrections as needed. Self-correction is our constant opportunity and friend, and requires no punishment or judgment.
- We simply have to “Just do it!” Armed with some clarity, some sense of importance, a little dedication and commitment, good intent, and courage – we can just “step” or “lean” into it.
So what are you waiting for? Why you are waiting matters little. What matters is that you quit waiting. Stand up, take a step – “Just do it!”
Michael E. Berrett, PhD
Psychologist, CEO, Co-founder, Center for Change, Orem, Utah
Co-author, “Spiritual Approaches in the Treatment of Women with Eating Disorders”