The trinity of being thought, word, and action, is at the heart of our successes, and its lack is often at the heart of our failures. First, we need to think clearly about what we want, then we need to communicate that desire to those around us, not only so that others can make us accountable, but so that we create a feedback loop to ourselves both in our verbal communication and in our own self talk., and Finally, after that we need to follow through these thoughts and words. W Simply, we need to act.
We’ll talk about what each component of the trinity of being is, and then we’ll examine how to realign each of them if we find they are out of sync.
Thoughts precede action
Before we can truly do anything meaningful in life, we have to understand that it will require saying no to 1,000,000 other things. If you choose to spend your life building hospitals in war-torn countries in the Middle-East, you have not helped the world get closer to a cure for cancer. You have not created a work of art that will last 1,000 years, you have not written a book that changed countless lives, you have not traveled to desolate villages performing crucial medical procedures.
Does this mean the work you have done is meaningless? Of course not. If you spent two years trying to do each of those things, you would have left in the beginnings of a study on cancer, you would have not quite finished an MFA program in painting, you would have not gotten through a second round of edits with an editor (assuming you were able to find one in two years), you would not even be more than halfway through your pre-med program. Meaningful things require intense periods of prolonged investment.
If we truly want to reach the goal we have set before us, we must be committed to it. We must know deep within ourselves that this is the thing we want. The way we do that is by focusing ourselves and recognizing what weighs heavily on our thoughts. Looking at your life, what things do you find are constantly drawing your attention and your passion? These are the things we should be pursuing. This requires an inner knowledge that doesn’t come naturally.
One good way to develop this knowledge is through journaling. Before you go to bed, write down the worst and best thing about the day. After some time passes (at least a month), examine what those things were and consider how you might shape your future towards the best things.
Another tool to attain clarity of vision is to make time for quiet reflection. It doesn’t need to be a long time, but as much as ten or twenty minutes a day where you step away from your phone and take time to breathe deeply and allow your mind to wander freely can help immensely in understanding what it is you want to do.
Often these things alone cannot help us achieve clarity. Having a mentor can be the extra push needed to understand yourself. A mentor, especially someone who is farther along than you in the field you’re interested in. Someone to whom you can ask probing questions and listen to your wonderings. In addition to this, they can provide clarity as to what practical steps can be taken to succeed. They can also tell you what mistakes or pitfalls to avoid.
Say Only What You Mean
Once we know what we want in ourselves, once our thoughts are straightened out, the next task is to communicate that desire clearly to those around us. But this can be difficult, especially if we’re communicating a vision that is deeply important to us. Here are a few guidelines for to communicating well:
- Simple language is always better. We can sometimes fall into a trap of thinking that using big words and complicated sentences can make our goal seem more important or more clearly defined. The reality is that being able to describe what we want in simply understood terms is far more effective. A good practice to test this is to try and get your vision statement to six or seven sentences. Then, cut down to three or four. Then to two.
- People will vastly prefer someone who says one or two things that they mean deeply over someone who shares a hundred different things. Another trap we can fall into with communication is being worried that we aren’t saying enough, and as a result sharing more than we actually feel. We should only say what is actually in the scope of what we want.
- Saying “no” is difficult, but crucial. What we want is no clearer than when we say no to everything else. Other opportunities will arise, other people will try to draw us into their vision for the future, but if these things get in the way of us achieving our goals, we have to communicate a strong “no” to them.
- Don’t forget the self-talk…
Following Through: Action
Once we know what we want, once we’ve communicated that desire clearly, the next step is to act. An action is a thing that makes our thoughts and words real, and failing to act on what we’ve thought about and said is a good way to lose opportunity quickly.
We’ve committed ourselves in our thoughts, we’ve communicated our desires to the people around us, now we have to actually take the steps we need to take. If our desire is to write a best-selling novel, first we have to write a manuscript. We have to be a voracious reader. We have to understand the literary industry and find connections in that world. These are difficult, time-consuming, sometimes exhausting things—but they bring us closer and closer to our goal. Then when we achieve what we set out to do, the people around us can revel in our success with us. But what happens if we don’t do this?
What if we haven’t thought through what we truly want, but did the speaking and the actions? Often if our thoughts aren’t truly present with what we find our hands be doing, we sabotage our own work. Coffee shops stages and small galleries are full of people with potential who never realized that their heart wasn’t truly in what they were doing and so they floundered.
Speak out loud
If we have committed to an idea, but we haven’t shared it with anyone there is no accountability for it. Speaking things out loud has a powerful effect on our psyche. And the opinions and thoughts of other people drastically affect our ability to engage in the world around us. Your friends and family can help you. They can invest in your dream if you allow them to take part in it. But they cannot do it if you never share.
If we’ve thought about something, if we’ve told those around us about it but we don’t follow through, we quickly lose their investment and our momentum. Our friends who were excited about our idea for a movie or a novel realize that it won’t get made, and they stop asking questions about it. Our families don’t think we truly want to pursue the dream we’ve talked about for years and they aren’t willing to support us anymore. Then, if we develop a new dream and find all sorts of energy for it. The people who we want to share it with might not be as easy to bring along as they were the first time.
That is why we need all three pieces of the trinity of being, thought, word, and action, in order to grow and do the things we want to do.
Follow up questions/points:
What if my thoughts aren’t in what I’m doing, what if I realize I don’t want what I’m working on?
Stop doing it. Yes, it might be painful. Yes, people might be disappointed. And yes, you might experience rejection. But you can take courage from the fact that this first hard step is made in the right direction. You’ve already done one hard thing towards getting where you need to go. Now you’ve realized you’re not going the right way.
I’m afraid to share my desires with the people around me. I don’t want them to laugh at my dreams or think that I’m not serious about them.
Any relationship where you are unable to think big and dream exciting, fantastic things is not one worth keeping. The people around you should care deeply for you and want you to succeed. They should believe you are capable of incredible, life-changing work. Get those people around you, start with just one person you can share your goal with. Then make it two people, then three, and so on.
I don’t know what actions I should take to reach the goal I’ve set for myself. What do I do?
Find someone who has done what you want to do, at whatever level you can. They might not be Christopher Nolan or Ellen Degeneres. But you can find someone who has more experience in what you’re interested in. Buy them dinner, ask them questions, invite them to critique you and offer advice about what you should do.
Use the internet. Find forums, books, podcasts, there has never been more content available for those of us who want to find it. Take deep breaths, ask the people around you for help when you need it.