Intuitive vs Focused Action
Traditional goal-setting-driven action has rarely worked for me.
When I was a kid, my mom used to make study timetables for me. I was able to follow them only for a few days or maybe for some days during exams.
But long-term plans of focused studying to avoid the last-minute panic and stress of exams never worked.
It was as if I cherished the thrill of studying at the last moment.
While the approach served me well enough to pass exams, I find that it is not productive in adult life. You don’t have immediate exams when you grow up. That’s why you set goals like getting a well-paying job or buying your dream car to help you take action.
However, once again, the action is driven by something that happens (might happen) in the future.
So, I asked myself: is there a way where action can become more intentional, intuitive, and present?
Types of Action- Intuitive and Focused
Not all actions are equal. We sometimes act without any thought out of impulse. Sometimes we take action while completely focused and directed driven by logic and rationality.
The emotional state behind every action is different and impacts the outcomes we are trying to achieve.
For example, mindless action is often a result of anger or frustration. A focused and flow action is a result of dedicated attention and sincerity about the goal.
Intuitive action is rooted in your intuition and gut feeling. It comes from clarity and alignment with the inner values. It is driven by a sense of exploration and chasing curiosity without any particular end goal.
It does not mean that the focused action cannot be driven by clarity. But the end goal of it is often determined.
For example, finishing a blog in a session without distractions is an example of focused action. On the other hand, writing just for the sake of exploring your ideas and clarifying your thinking is rooted in intuition and feeling.
When we are kids, we are used to taking intuitive action driven by playful curiosity. It is challenging to get kids doing for prolonged focused action.
When we grow up, we lose that playfulness and curiosity. It is replaced by mundane series of actions of adult life.
How do you know if you are in a zone of intuitive action?
The best indicator is how you feel about it. There is a sense of excitement and calm even if you are working for long hours. You can be exhausted yet energized at the same time when you engage in intuitive action.
Your days are infused with joy and meaning. The more you spend time in this zone, you also begin to notice signs of synchronicity around you and things falling into place in ways you had not thought of earlier.
But does that mean you only operate in the intuitive zone?
No, both intuitive and focused actions are needed
In fact, they often accompany each other sometimes without us realizing it.
For example, when you start a new project, you do not have any clue. You begin with research and collecting ideas for it. You have a vague idea of where you want to go but the path is not clear.
This is when you diverge and collect ideas and inspiration. This is the phase when intuitive action can really help us and most of us operate in that zone without consciously realizing it. It is the beginning of the project so you are excited about it.
However, after this phase, one needs to converge and start taking active steps toward the end goal of the project. This is when you get into a focused mode and work on the material you collected in a divergent phase.
The Need for Balance
The problem is we either spend too much time in the intuitive phase- researching, visualizing, dreaming- but rarely get anything done. Or we jump straight to planning and executing your to-do list.
Intuitive action is a great way to align with any project or creative endeavor even before it starts. Instead of obsessing about the end goal, you pursue what you find exciting. It often requires quiet contemplation and a clear mind to initiate intuitive action.
You need to be willing to be open to uncertainty in that divergent phase. Meditation, walks, music- anything that helps you calm down and clear your head can be beneficial to prepare yourself for intuitive action.
Focused action is needed to finish things and see them up to completion. It is the discipline to get things done. Instead of the playful curiosity of the intuitive action phase, there is a sense of dedication and discipline in this zone.
In retrospect, I think the reason study timetables never worked for me was that I was always in the focused action mode. The learning was rarely driven by playful curiosity. It was driven by the desire to be a perfect student and score the highest marks.
On the other hand, my current journey of independent consulting and freelance writing has emerged out of playful curiosity. But this time, I am struggling with focused action and actually sitting down to work and get things done.
It is a tricky balance to maintain.
But having this understanding of the balance between both modes of action has given me some perspective and awareness.
What about you?
How do you tend to operate usually?
Were you aware of this difference so far?
Hit reply and let me know!
Until next time