It’s easy to spend your day spinning your wheels performing tasks that, at the time, make you feel productive. However, when the day ends you look back and can’t quite pinpoint what projects you pushed forward. One culprit: you’re confusing motion and action. James Clear explains on Medium:

Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.

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.

Sometimes motion is good because it allows you to prepare and strategize and learn. But motion will never — by itself — lead to the result you are looking to achieve.

Read his entire post here.

  • InnkeeperVA

    I think they call it spinning your wheels. We can do that all day and never get anyway…and then we stink like burned rubber!

  • Antonio Gattulli

    well it’s the main difference between training and performing for real. But the latter isn’t useful without the former.

  • Chatman Richmond Jr.

    I agree with Antonio. Planning is a vital part of the process, but so is putting it into action. If I find myself doing something, but can’t answer the question of “and then what?”, I’m probably spinning my wheels.

    Example: I’m going to connect with a lead and see if we’re a good fit. (And then what?) Decide how fitting we are, and then try to make an offer if the project is interesting.

    Example: I’m going to learn how to use the Bourbon Sass mixin library and the Neat grid framework. (And then what?) Uh…

    The first example has that question clearly answered and I can act immediately. The second one couldn’t turn into action without a few extra steps, so it takes a lower priority in my book vs. the thing I can do right now.

  • PaulBaarn

    I would say it the other way around. Action is spinning wheels, you just push the gas pedal. If you’re stuck in the mud you can add even more action by pushing down on the pedal even harder. In the end you have to do the smart thing which moves you forward. It’s motion I’m looking for, not action. The premise is the same, I just view the words differently. 🙂

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