The Doing Mindset > The Thinking Mindset

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"There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction."
- John F. Kennedy

Balancing thought and action will always be a challenge for many people. How much time should you spend thinking vs. doing?

With respect to goals, projects, and other to-do items, it's easy to get stuck too long in the thinking and planning phase. Many people get excited about a lot of ideas. But unfortunately they easily begin pushing them further back on their to-do lists, if not completely disregarding them as being unfeasible or unreaslistic.

When you value "the thinking mindset" more than "the doing mindset" you will eventually end up with a note app or notebook full of dozens or even hundreds of ideas and plans. A greater percentage of them will never be done. And you will most likely not think about a lot of them again. Some are maybe 5–10% complete, and a few maybe at least 50% done. It can quickly turn into inaction habit.

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Results come to those who act while others are discovering the "right" ways to generate results.

It's what you DO that defines you.

"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you."
- Thomas Jefferson

Do what you should. Don't talk about what you should be doing.

Being a doer instead of just a thinker requires an insane amount of discipline and commitment. "Doing" involves risk but it's the only way to make progress.

If you are not daring and focused enough, you can never get past the "thinking" stage of getting work done. Stop thinking you are at a disadvantage because of your weaknesses.

If you really need to get something done, you will find a good reason why you have to pursue it otherwise your excuses will constantly convince you why it can't be done.

Embrace the action habit!

"Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned."
- Peter Marshall

Don't over-plan and under-act!

Thinking and planning in advance is important, vital in fact, to your success, but acting is even more crucial to long-term achievement.

Actions you take beat life-changing intentions. Not doing anything is the same as intending to do something but never actually doing it.

Does it really matter if you wanted or really intended to do something, but ended up just not doing it?

Just thinking about something wont't do you any good if you don't actually do it. Every time you put something off, it's put into a queue, and nearly everything in that order of things to do may NEVER get done.

You can never get real progress if you don't take action. All of the self-help articles in the world can't save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small).

Thinking about doing is more exhausting than doing.

Actually, holding on to too many things to do without necessarily getting them done or taken action makes you anxious and stressed. The constant reminder that you have something to start doesn't help your well-being.

Most things on your to-do list won't be done. Take them off your list or maintain the healthy habit of doing something about them everyday.

Being overwhelmed with many things to do and no sense of priority (no deadlines) usually means nothing will get done.

What you DO matters!

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."
- Dale Carnegie

What can I do right now to take even the smallest step towards achieving my most important goal on my to-do list?

As you think about this question, hold the expectation that the answer will be something simple that can be done in the next 30 minutes or less. Whatever reasonable answer pops into your head, accept it and act on it immediately.

Get that simple task done as quickly as you can. Sometimes you'll flow effortlessly into another task. And you will experience the "first action effect" that makes it easy to stay productive. It may take a little practice to use this strategy to consistently take action. But the benefits are enormous.

Once you commit to getting started, momentum carries you. Producing results builds positive momentum. With momentum you'll get ahead and make progress much faster.

Not only is doing easier than thinking about doing, but doing also gives you the ability to check something off your to-do list, giving you a sense of progress, engagement, fulfillment, and accomplishment.

This commentary originally ran on

Thomas Oppong is the founder and editor of, a resource site for young entrepreneurs starting and growing businesses today.