The Pocket Guide to Action by Kyle Eschenroeder

A friend gave me this book years ago, but this season of life was the right time to finally pick it up. It goes so well with Dr. Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit and a recent New York Times article by Dana Smith called “How to Save Yourself from Task Paralysis.”

All three of these pieces consider the importance of action to our happiness, mental health, and to our goals. How we frame action and our action’s results can help us get moving (metaphorically or literally).

While Fiore and Smith take more direct psychological approaches, Eschenroeder essentially compiled a notebook of quotes on action from philosophers, creatives, and occasionally a business leader. He also includes his own commentary on quotes or ideas. It’s a self-help devotional more than anything.

I found the book encouraging because it isn’t about “the grind,” but instead is about persistent and consistent action over time. There’s no rush – just go in the right direction! That will help you be the kind of person you want to be. Success isn’t framed as what you accomplish, but who you are.

Philosophically, Eschenroeder isn’t a consequentialist. “The payoff [result of action] may give you information on what to do next, but not on who you should be next,” he asserts. I agree. He quotes Goethe to get there, and the Gita says something similar:

“You have the right to work, but for the work’s sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working. Never give way to laziness, either.

“Perform every action with you heart fixed on the Supreme Lord. Renounce attachment to the fruits.”

Smith’s NYT article and Action agree that action reduces stress and anxiety. They also agree that our presence in the world impacts those around us regardless of whether we act or not. Smith quotes experts utilizing this idea to get us over the hump of task paralysis – “How does this [task] make others’ lives easier? If I don’t do this, am I delaying somebody else from doing what they need?” Eschenroader makes a similar observation: “You spread whatever you are…Everything you do matters. Act accordingly.”

Author: Joey

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