Nothing is working, what should I do? Have you ever had that 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.” Now, because you are a “doer”, you will begin to take a mental inventory of your relationships, job, family and personal life. You will be 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 in between fits of scribbles. “If I take action, and do more, the noise in my mind will stop. If I make a list and then check off the items one by one, 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. Action 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 action is not only a tool in our toolbox that we use to achieve our goals. Action becomes the goal in and of itself. In that case, we are not taking actions. Instead, actions are 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 here, 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, “doer”s 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 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.”

And, let’s face it, our ability to take action moves the human race along. It took a group of “doer”s to fight for Civil Rights and it will take even more “doer”s to solve the problems this world is facing now. But what happens when all we know is the realm of “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 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 non-”doer”, they may suggest that you simply “be.” This sounds to the “doer” like such nonsense. They may be smiling at you and nodding in agreement, but inside they are incredulous. ‘How do I “be?” In fact, can’t I “do” a little something, while I “be?”’ How long does one have to “be” before getting back to the business of “doing?” This creates a kind of circular thinking that I have found to be ineffective and downright upsetting. After working with many clients who struggle with this dichotomy of “doing” and “being”, I have learned something. When they are in the gray zone, they can only see through the filter of “doing.” They need a reminder in language that 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 their wheels) “being,” is doing something. In fact, it’s probably one of the hardest skills the “doer” will ever learn. And, it is one of the most powerful skills if employed at the right time. And now, these 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, your job, your relationship or your life for one whole week. When your mind wants you to work, work, work. You tell it that you are on an “Action Vacation” and that you will get back to it next week.

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. You may get many reactions. People are uncomfortable with discomfort and they may try to fix your problem. Their reaction doesn’t matter – what is important is that you express the feelings and don’t feel the need to explain why.

3. Take a walk. Somehow physical activity has a way of quieting the mind. I like to listen to music when I walk, because this allows me to shut 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 – fears, anxieties, questions and thoughts. Read it over and over until it means nothing or until you are rolling around on the floor laughing at yourself.

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 bookshelf and choose one. Or go to your local library and find something that makes you feel good when reading the book jacket.

7. Do something you never allow yourself to do. Watch T.V. in the middle of the day, skip your exercise class and have an ice cream. Take a nap with dirty dishes in the sink.

8. Visualize. Lay down in a quiet place and relax every muscle in your body one by one and then begin to create pictures in your head. Create what you intend to have in life. Maybe you want to visualize your own peace of mind or, perhaps you want to visualize turning your problem or issue over to a higher power. Visualizing is very powerful even if the images are not clear in your mind. There are some wonderful books about visualization that can take you step by step through the process of visualization. One of my favorites is “Creative Visualization” by Shakti Gawain

9. Open a book of prayers, daily thoughts or meditations and read the page that you happen to find first. There are three books that I use for this purpose; Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, A Course in Miracles and Illuminata by Marianne Williamson. Each approaches life from a different and profound perspective.

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.” When you begin to feel the impulse to look for solutions – things to “do”, tell your mind that you appreciate its input, but that you have chosen to “do” something else right now and let that voice fall away. 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.

Author's Bio: 

Jamee Tenzer, Founder of Life Works Coaching, is a professional coach who specializes in working with women who are committed to success and fulfillment at work and at home. Prior to becoming a coach, she worked as a Producer in the Television Industry. Visit Life Works Coaching at Copyright 2005