I treated myself to a new book before Christmas, which will come as no surprise to most of you. Unusually for me, as I prefer paper pages, it is an ebook called “The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology” by Gregg Krech. I am very interested in Japanese psychology and philosophy be it our own “Kawa Model” through to “Kaizen” as embraced in my creativity coaching.

As Occupational Therapists we are pretty good at identifying actions with our clients. We can often come up with extensive action plans, especially if we are working in our “specialism”. In fact, our clients too may be adept at coming up with a “to do” list. Sometimes our ability to take action is hindered by there being too many potential actions. Sometimes we seem constantly busy, but aren’t moving in our desired direction. Enter this lovely book.

Krech makes a strong case for “action” which as Occupational experts, OTs really do get. He notes that “getting things done” really is a key to mental wellbeing, noting that lack of action is behind many unhelpful issues, e.g Anxiety – how am I ever going to get this project done on time? Depression – I haven’t really accomplished anything meaningful; Sleep Problems – instead of sleeping, I am lying here thinking of all the things I have to do…etc..etc…

So, taking action is crucial as it promotes energy, learning and feedback from our environment. However, it’s not just about being busy for busy’s sake. We can all fill our days quite easily with all sorts of stuff, tiring ourselves out and still finding ourselves unfulfilled! Krech asks to ponder 4 factors that can help with the question “how do I know what action to take?”

  1. Paying Attention: As I notice my environment and the world around me, does that suggest a particular action I need to take? Is this a mindful choice? Is helping this person cross the road what really needs doing right now, rather than me just rushing back to the car? Would a ten minute walk now really help, rather than ploughing on with my work?
  2. Purpose: What is my purpose? What am I passionate about? What legacy do I want to leave behind?
  3. Self Reflection: As I step back and reflect on my life and relationships, does that suggest a particular action I should take? Am I taking the time to think and reflect?
  4. Urgent VS Important: What really matters? What is truly important and not just urgent at this moment? (AKA the washing will never really be finished, and you can fill your day with stuff that seems urgent but is not really that important…)

So as this year starts to unfold, I can highly recommend pondering these things and perhaps taking a look at this lovely book.