“Nothing is working—what should I do?”

Have you ever had this unsettling thought? What happens when you wake up and nothing seems to be working in your life? There is no immediate crisis, but you feel “out of step.” Because you are a doer, you will begin to take a mental inventory of your relationships, your job, your family, and your personal life. You will begin checking to see what has changed. What has caused the life that was fine yesterday to look unappealing today? Your mind is racing, your pulse is rising, and you begin to make a list. “This will solve the problem,” you tell yourself between fits of scribbles. “If I make a list and do more, the noise in my mind will stop. I will be satisfied. I will be happy.”

As a life coach, I am a great believer in taking action to move forward in life. In fact, I would say that action is one of the most powerful tools that human beings have to change their experience of life. It is the root of progress. There is nothing more powerful than an intention rooted in a personal desire, combined with actions taken in line with that intention. However, there are times when we stop using action as a tool and begin to identify action as the goal itself. In that case, we are not taking action—rather, action is taking us where we don’t want to go. Too much action for the sake of “doing” can result in fatigue and disillusionment.

The problem that we are having may not be in the realm of doing; the problem may be the microscope through which we view our lives. Are we focusing too closely on each detail? Perhaps the lens is a little dusty. Why does a life that once looked vibrant and colorful become gray? Is there something wrong, or are our doer instincts robbing us of the simple neutrality and rejuvenation that could be found through surrender to these gray moments in life?

In general, doers are not comfortable with a lot of gray in their lives. In fact, by our nature we may see gray as boring, static, listless, and dull. We like to have a plan, a list of things to do, and a well-worn appointment book. We have learned to thrive on the doing of life and to get high on the accomplishment of our goals. Sure, we know how to throw out little pearls like “trust the process” and “smell the roses,” but we’re not taking any chances. We’re hedging our bets by getting out there and making things happen through our ability to do, do, do.

Let’s face it: our ability to take action moves the human race along. It took a group of doers to fight for civil rights, and it will take even more doers to solve the problems this world is facing now. However, what happens when our greatest strength is doing, and then one day, doing stops working? We have become so used to the doer mode that we no longer remember that we have options. When faced with challenges or emptiness, we forget that we can take a breath and a break, or if we do stop for even a moment, the stillness makes us anxious. We are afraid that we will be stuck there forever. We do more! Why do we not trust the process of life to help facilitate change?

If you ask for advice from a nondoer, she may suggest that you simply “be.” This sounds to the doer like nonsense. The doer may be smiling and nodding in agreement, but inside, she is incredulous. After working with many clients who struggle with this dichotomy of “doing” and “being,” I have learned something. When doers are in the gray zone, they can only see through the filter of doing. They need a reminder, in language a doer can understand, that can help them out of the mucky “do.” For someone who is most comfortable in the realm of action (even if it means spinning her wheels), “being” is doing something. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest skills the doer will ever learn, and it’s one of the most powerful skills if employed at the right time. The following are some ways that I help my doer clients to take a breath and “be.”

1.Take an “action vacation.” Tell yourself that you are not going to work on your weight, job, relationship, or life for one week. When the week is over, you may find that the problem has shifted and that you can attack it with renewed intention.

2.Tell one person how you are feeling. A spouse or friend is preferable, but I have found that waiters, bus drivers, and car wash attendants all have the facility to listen. Their reactions don’t matter—what is important is that you express the feelings.

3.Take a walk. This quiets the mind. I like to listen to music because it shuts out the incessant chatter of my doer brain, but complete silence may be your preference.

4.Take a long, hot bubbly bath. This is the oldest trick in the book, and it works.

5.Write down everything that is going on in your head, including your fears, anxieties, questions, and thoughts. Read it over and over until you have no reaction to the words or you find yourself laughing uncontrollably.

6.Read a self-help book. Some people call them “shelf help” because we buy them and leave them on the shelf. Go to your shelf or your local library to find a book that inspires you when you read the book jacket.

7.Do something you never allow yourself to do. Watch TV or take a nap in the middle of the day, skip your exercise class, leave dirty dishes in the sink, or have a triple-scoop ice cream cone.

8.Visualize. Use visualization to create what you intend to have in life. Visualizing is very powerful, even if the images are not clear in your mind.

9.Open a book of prayers, daily thoughts, or meditations and read the page that you open first.

When you are not in the gray zone, add to this list, and delete anything that doesn’t work for you. Over time you will create your own personal “doer’s guide to being.” Remember—it takes practice to shift from “doing” to “being” at will, but even a few moments of “being” will rejuvenate the doer in you.

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways.html

Author's Bio: 

Jamee Tenzer, Founder of Life Works Coaching, is a professional career and life coach specializing in working with women to create a life that works for them. The foundation of Ms. Tenzer’s coaching practice is based on the principle that anything is possible through taking action. Ms. Tenzer lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. For more information and to schedule a complimentary coaching session, please visit http://lifeworks4ucoaching.com or e-mail tenzer@lifeworks4ucoaching.com.