How to Stop Talking and Start Doing

Sometimes we need to remember to stop and soak up the moment we’re in. Quit thinking about the next big thing and just celebrate where we are right now. Sometimes we need to pay attention to the colors of today, lest we miss out on what’s real because of our obsession with what could be.

And sometimes we need to snap out of the complacency of today and move our butts towards what we want for tomorrow.

Have you been talking about the same dream for months (or years)?

Are you dragging your feet on important changes?

Are you sitting around the campfire talking about “what if” and “someday”, but spending night after night in the exact same campground?

If your life has become a series of hypothetical conversations, it’s time to actually do something.

Unfortunately, our brains seem to love the idea of taking action more than the actual execution, especially if it is in any way different from what we know. Some call it “lizard brain”, the reptilian part of our brain that refuses to evolve beyond the familiar. It’s the reason we stay in unhealthy relationships and jobs we hate. It’s the reason we die in cities we don’t love. It is the internal mud that keeps us stuck, but it is not impossible to overcome.

One way I’ve been using to overcome my own lizard brain lately is to set deadlines.

I’m not talking about those pretend deadlines meant to fool us into progress – my lizard brain knows motivational BS when it sees it – but actual deadlines that come with dates and times and consequences.

When we were talking about taking our RV trip, I set a date of June 1 for leaving. Suddenly, the dream became real and plans were being made around that specific date. Recently, I had another idea for a book – any writer can tell you they have more ideas for books than pairs of clean socks – and I knew instinctively that the timing was right for this idea to become reality. I bought a ticket for a publishing conference in New York City at the end of October and then forked over a piece of our savings for a plane ticket. Deadline set, money staked, and book proposal is actually almost done.

Confession: I’m totally amazed at how much progress I’ve made on that proposal. I’ve started books and proposals before, but never made the time to actually see them through. Now, although I’m as busy as ever, I’m making time because I have a deadline.

Deadlines turn our fantasies into priorities. They help transform us from people who talk to people who live. They send the message to our lizard brains – and the rest of the world – that we are committed to living with purpose and power.

Sign up for a race.

Register for a class.

Make a deposit on that vacation to Ireland.

Whatever your next finish line is, make it real. Make it now.

Or don’t, and keep dreaming the same dreams because they are nice and pretty and easier.

What deadlines do you need to make?

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  1. Nicole says:

    You gave me goose bumps with this one. :) We’ve taken some major risks (our big move, for example) but we’re becoming complacent again. It’s time to ACT! Thanks for the reminder!!!

  2. Jamie says:


    p.s. congrats on the book proposal!

  3. Rachel says:

    Wise words.

    We’ve had so much action this last year – new career/job for my husband, international move, finally finished paying off $82,000 in consumer debt, and I’m starting to build a freelancing business – that we’re in a breather moment of scheming and dreaming what’s next.

    This was a nice kick in the pants that the next dream needs a deadline to be a goal.

    Thanks, Britt!

  4. Toni says:

    I needed to hear this today. Thank you!!

  5. Robin says:

    I obliterated whatever savings I had left to hire a coach so I can pursue another career. Gave myself a deadline of no longer than 6 months to accomplish that move. I was scared to death to even do that but I did it. Problem is, I don’t feel like I have accomplished anything really, like I have no momentum since I started. I hope to god that will come in time. :)

  6. Lisa says:

    I’m so happy you’re writing that book proposal!!

  7. Hockeymandad says:

    When you get that book deal, I better get an autographed copy.

  8. I am with you stop talking and start doing.Talk is cheap.I believe in action.

  9. the term lizard brain makes me smile

  10. Megan says:

    I now have a deadline; I just have to figure out what I want, which is proving to be a bit more difficult than I’d imagined. I don’t know where I’m going, but I am on my way!

  11. [...] mortgage calculation. But I never actually DID anything about it. Until now, that is. Britt’s latest post, along with some of her earlier ones, have started to pile on one another and are starting to [...]

  12. jenny says:

    I have no words for how much I ADORED this post! Possibly because I, too, have been “working on a proposal” for years now and it wasn’t until I bit the bullet and bought my ticket for BlogHer Writers that I actually sat down and did it. In final edits now and it’s the best feeling in the world. Now I need to apply your theory to all the other areas in my life that need the same approach! So glad to have found your blog.

  13. [...] Miss Britt hits it home by telling you to stop talking about doing things and just get out there and DO IT! [...]

  14. martymankins says:

    Like Meagan, I’ve had to set a deadline for myself and my personal transformation. Of course, that deadline doesn’t include blogging about my goals. Must do that soon.

  15. Rhonda says:

    I am in the process of working on a new blog to launch. Although I’ve done plenty of websites in the past, I’ve never created a blog or used WordPress. Additionally, I’ve been away from any type of design for awhile. There is a huge learning curve. Luckily, learning is what challenges and motivates me. I am finally taking a leap of faith and following my dream of becoming a freelance writer, author, blogger, or any other way I can write and make money. Thanks for reminding me to set deadlines. Good luck to you on your journey.

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