The ABC’s of Effective Action: Stop. Think. THEN Act.

It occurs to me that I could eventually re-purpose these blog posts into my very own “tell all” book.  No juicy scandals, just lots of stories of how the Universe kept presenting me with opportunities to learn crucial lessons until I actually got the message.  

Yippee.

Today’s lesson has to do with the absolutely vital need to resist taking action until you know the right action to take.

I once again was presented with a learning opportunity in this regard as I sought to create a mailing list for an ongoing marketing campaign.  You see, I don’t want to do a standard mail merge that will create personalized e-mails and ready-to-print mailing labels.  I just want to be able to import key names and addresses into my SendOutCards account and keep the mailing addresses of these key contacts neatly organized.  Simple, right?

Yes, it would have been simple had I just stopped long enough to identify what my real objective was.  Instead, I was in such a hurry to act, to get this task checked off my To Do list, that I just barreled ahead selecting names from my Outlook address book.  Create the distribution list, get the right names in it, hurry hurry hurry.

“But, wait, Kath – didn’t you say you weren’t going to do an e-mail campaign?”

Oh.  Yeah.

I’m not willing to confess how many times I dinked around with my Outlook contact list, my Business Contact Manager list, and (it felt like) any other list of names I could put my hands on. Let’s just say that eventually I got whomped with the cosmic 2×4 and figured out what I really needed to do was track down all the snail mail addresses possible, update my Outlook contacts, export that contact  information into a spreadsheet, make sure it was no more and no less information than I needed, and proceed with creating my marketing campaign.

What’s that saying? When you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s tough to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp. I’m coming to realize that sometimes the alligators don’t come in the form of obvious challenges, but instead can be disguised as the best of intentions – “Look at me! I’m taking action!”

Here’s wishing you a shorter learning curve than I’ve had so far.  In fact, if you want to piggy-back on my lessons and maybe avoid re-inventing the wheel when it comes to taking effective action, let me know; maybe I can help.

BTW, thanks to Bogeskov, whose alligator image I found on flickr.

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