A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Noticing, Explaining, and Prescribing. Now, to round out this series on the NEPA framework, here is Actioning.
Actioning sometimes gets forgotten or glossed-over in discussions of this framework, as if noticing, explaining, and prescribing are the things we really have to be taught and be highly conscious of. However, for many people, taking actioning is actually the hardest part. If you’re highly analytical (as I am), it might come quite naturally to you to pick out little details and ponder the reasons behind them. Doing something, on the other hand, is quite a different animal.
Luckily for me, I am also a man of action, so this entire framework works really well for me. If you’re not, then taking action on these things might be the hard part. Let’s talk about why taking action is actually the most important step.
Actioning = The Most Important Step
To revisit the NEPA framework, it goes like this:
- Noticing, leads to…
- Explaining, leads to…
- Prescribing, leads to…
But, what we haven’t talked about yet is how Actioning leads to Noticing again. This is where the whole thing comes full circle. You’ve noticed something, you’ve investigated the “why” behind it, you’ve prescribed a new approach, and now you’re acting on that plan. This is when you get to notice IF IT WORKED OR NOT. Did you change the thing you were trying to change?
So, now we’re scientists. To put this in the context of a scientific experiment, actioning is the actual EXPERIMENT part. This is when you test your suppositions, gather data, measure results, and learn how your hypothesis stacked-up against reality. The action step is where the real learning happens.
The action step is also where the actual long-term effects are felt. Let’s say your noticing was that you aren’t as active as you used to be and you’re getting soft. The explanation step yielded a 50% decrease in time at the gym over the past year. Your prescription was to lift more weights. Now, it is only in the actioning phase where you are able to lift those weights, increase that gym time again, and work away that softness. You have to do the reps to get the results, which means that actioning is also the longest step of this framework, with the most hard work involved.
And what happens if you don’t do the actioning step? The thing you were trying to change never changes. The thing you noticed never goes away; the noticing never changes. All the work you did to explain it and prescribe solutions was just a waste of time because you didn’t act on any of them. So, what was the point then?
Don’t skimp on the Actioning step. If it was worth complaining about, it was worth doing something about. If you took the time to understand it, take the time to change it. If it was important enough to make a plan, you had better implement that plan.
If you want to get something done: take action.
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