Originally published on 15 July 2006.
In a somewhat recent article, Adrian Savage [note: broken links removed] has asked the question about why there is so much self-help material out there in the world right now. He first answers it with the top level answer — because there is demand — and then moves on to the deeper reason: people are dissatisfied with their lives and are looking for the magic recipe to fix it.
Flylady talks about this being the “magic bullet” and how people who come to her site are often looking for the right way to get their houses in order or clean. She also talks about how most of us that end up at her site have collected an amazing amount of cleaners, looking for the right one to take away the dirt…and then she follows it up with “soap is soap” and that the only thing that will get rid of the dirt is your hand with some arm motion.
I recently read an email where someone said “I can’t read myself thin”. And isn’t this the whole basis of the issue? People are looking for a change in their lives and figure that by reading about a system they will auto-magically become transformed. I like to think of it as following the laws of motion. (A body at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an outside force…)
Well, let me share my conclusion. It doesn’t work that way. The only way to change things is to DO things differently. The only way to lose weight is to take in less food than the energy you expend. The only way to get more things done is to DO them. This is so often overlooked. In both GTD and the Flylady system, lists are key. But if you never DO anything with those lists, are you any different than when you first started? Well, you have a whole lot more paper lying around. The key to David Allen’s phrase “next action” is ACTION.
I like to fiddle with my systems, making them just perfect. It’s easier than actually doing anything. But I’ve come to realize that I have to start DOING things, not just talking about them or writing them down. Making lists and maintaining systems is busy work. They are tools to get me to an end, not an end in themselves.
So what are you going to DO today?