This is a guest post from Thias at It Pays Dividends. It Pays Dividends focuses on developing the habits and systems needed to improve your finances and live a more intentional life.
At some point in our lives, we decide we want to try something new. We want to get healthier. We want to get our financial lives in order. We want to start our own business.
We set off trying to learn as much as we can on the subject.
- What information do we need to know before we start?
- What struggles should we expect?
- What are the best strategies to achieve it?
For those of us truly dedicated to making the change, often times we completely immerse ourselves in the topic. We push ourselves to know as much about the topic as possible so we can know what to expect.
So what’s the problem?
If we aren’t careful, the pursuit of knowledge will overtake the desire to take action. We become so entrenched in gaining knowledge, we actually forget to implement what we are trying to learn.
Change Is Hard
Making changes is hard. It doesn’t matter if the change is due to necessity or a desire; change pushes us towards an unknown.
- Will I be successful?
- Will this end up being a waste of time?
In the beginning, there are always more questions than answers. So we strive to gather more knowledge to provide comfort, to ease our concerns. We want to know the possible outcomes before we take the actual risk.
The pursuit of knowledge becomes a crutch.
Look at dividend growth investing. The amount of strategies, opinions, and companies out there can be paralyzing. If you set out wanting to make the perfect investment, you may never get your portfolio off the ground.
If you set off to learn as much as possible before starting, you may find yourself sitting on the sidelines forever.
Knowledge doesn’t lead to results on it’s own. Action is needed.
James Clear, the popular blogger on habits, sums up this idea perfectly:
“Passive learning creates knowledge. Active practice creates skill.”
What Can We Do?
I have struggled with the idea of learning vs action many times throughout my life. It kept me from investing early on. I pushed off developing a financial independence plan. I even let it keep me from starting my blog. All because I was uncomfortable not knowing what risks were out there waiting for me.
So what did I do to get past this?
I began utilizing small wins to help move me into action instead of the perpetual pursuit of information and knowledge.
The small wins method concentrates on breaking bigger goals into smaller, more management tasks. Think of it as “eating an elephant, one bite at a time”.
Think back to when you first started learning how to drive a car. Most of us didn’t jump on the highway during rush hour on the first day. Instead, many started driving around an empty parking lot so you had time to learn the different aspects of successfully driving a car. As time went on, you moved to driving on side streets, and finally worked your way up driving everywhere.
Breaking goals into small chunks helps lower the risk, making action simpler to implement.
Want to climb mountains? Instead of climbing Mount Everest, first find a local indoor climbing wall.
Looking to create a dividend portfolio? Don’t invest all your money all at once. Instead, buy one stock with a small portion of your money.
Taking action doesn’t need to be hard. Stop using knowledge as a crutch that keeps you from action. Instead, break your goals into smaller, more manageable tasks and take action.
Making changes is hard. The risk of failure or not knowing what is going to happen can lead to the indefinite pursuit of knowledge. It can keep you from actually implementing the actions you set out pursuing in the first place
If you find yourself paralyzed from taking action, try breaking things down to smaller, less risky actions to help get you started.
Many of the most successful people in the world will tell you that the most valuable lessons they learned is from taking action and the failures they experienced along the way. Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you from action. The pursuit of knowledge is a crutch. Don’t let it keep you from taking action.