Alan's Blog

 

Living

     
 

Action!

We’ve all heard the expression “Actions speak louder than words”.

It’s when “I’d like to do that” as a thought, or even an intention, becomes reality.

Before JP and I went on our 5-week bicycle ride we talked about our forthcoming adventure to a number of people, several of whom said they’d like to do just what we were intending to do. In fact, I invited one or two of them to join us – even for part of the trip – but no one put their fine words into action. Just talk – I don’t suppose any of them ever intended to do anything like it – much less put their words into action. Whether or not they even wanted to go on a trip like we were going to do is also doubtful.

As I wrote in my book A Cockroach in my Cornflakes:
The hard part of any adventure is not the adventure itself - it’s getting round to doing it yourself. It’s about putting the books and videos on the shelf and getting out into the world to do it for yourself. It’s when the talking stops and the action starts.

Some people have a board fixed to a convenient wall inside their home – like a ‘dreams’ or 'visions' board onto which they affix text or pictures of things they’d like to do, places they’d like to go to, or even pictures of things they’d like to acquire.

On UK TV recently there was a series of programmes following the Red Arrows, the best aerobatic formation flying team in the world, throughout the course of a year. One of the pilots chosen to fly with the team during the course of the series was interviewed and he spoke of a board onto which he and his wife posted things that were their 'visions' for the future. Two years before being selected to fly with the Red Arrows he’d placed a photograph of their aeroplanes on his board and, now he’d been chosen to fly as part of the team, he could remove the picture. Mission accomplished.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you fill up a board with all your dreams posted on it and sit back and wait for them to happen – far from it! However, the pictures or text may help you to identify your real intentions and from those you can clearly map out the objectives you need to achieve along the way and then put into action what you need to do to realise your dreams.

Early in 1996 I decided to change my life. That was my intention. I had no idea of how I was going to achieve that until I read an article about a young man who’d trained to become an English language teacher and had gone to work in Columbia, in South America.

I decided that doing this was an ideal way to change my life – although I didn't go to Columbia. I went to the Philippines.

To bring about the change in my life that I needed, I had to set some objectives – and a make a plan that would enable me to achieve them.

First, I had to find out about getting the appropriate training – then plan my work to accommodate the time I needed to attend the course. I also need to satisfy the requirements of my contract at work. I planned a series of steps that would take almost year to accomplish. I even worked out how many hours per week I needed to work – and when, in order to get the timing correct. I set out all my objectives, on paper – with a deadline date.

I then spent that year working towards achieving my objectives. Almost everything went according to plan with the exception that I had to work around the sad, unforeseen event of my father passing away. I re-planned accordingly and got back on track. I put my plans, intentions and objectives into action and achieved the desired result. I changed my life – big time!

Now, I didn’t use a dream board, but I did have all the parts of the dream in my head and my plan on paper. When I worked in The Netherlands, one of my colleagues said he had something that would change my life. On a sheet of paper, he sketched some squares and in each square he wrote a month of the year - to include all the months of the year. In each square he said I should write down what I wanted to do that month. This square could then be subdivided into weeks and even days so I would have a plan of intentions that would later turn into actions for every month / week / day of the year – and keep it rolling.

As someone who is something of a ‘drifter’ through life, I can see a lot of merit in this idea. He said he’d worked this system for a number of years and found it very helpful in achieving his aims. Certainly, following this principle worked for me during the year I was planning to change my life, although I’ve never followed it since. I’m sure I would have achieved a lot more had I done so. Maybe I’m just too lazy! I can’t even be bothered to plan our holiday in advance.

Of course, there are many thousands of adventurers out there, but compared to the billions of people in our world that is a small number. How sad it is that such a small number commit themselves to having the time of their life on an adventure – or to change their life. Of course, there were many who, when I decided to change my life as dramatically as I did, said they couldn’t do what I was about to do. Perhaps they didn’t need to as much as I did. Perhaps they were happy and contented with their life as it was and didn't need to change anything. I felt that much of my motivation came from necessity as much as anything else – although my cycling tours were just me enjoying myself; my sense of adventure.

Although I've written a lot about following your 'dream' adventure, this principle can provide you with guidance for many other actions – much more mundane perhaps that having an adventure. It could even provide you with a career plan, or for the purchase of a house or other expensive item – or even for going on a special holiday.

If you really want to do something you have to make it happen. These 'dreams' don't usually happen on their own or by chance. They will only come to reality if you make the reality happen. You have to convert your dreams into 'actions'.

Go for it! Make your dreams happen.