You have an idea to make the world a better place. So just do it, right? Well, that’s often easier said than done, especially for introverts. Here are three strategies to help you work with—not against—your introversion to make things happen.
Has this ever happened to you?
You take on the task of brainstorming big-picture ideas that you want to bring to life in a powerful way. You devote time to making a long list of possibilities. And in those moments of inspiration, you create multiple intentions that all feel equally important, equally urgent. That urgency causes you to rapidly shift gears; your thoughts jump to how to translate those ideas into tangible outcomes or actions. That’s when the flow stops, and your inspiration right along with it.
Goodbye, creativity… hello, resistance.
We’ve all experienced this at some point, and I’d venture to guess that introverts—those who gain energy from solitude and feel drained by prolonged social interaction—have felt it more than most.
As an introvert, I love the inner world of ideas, more than I tend to love the outer world of actions. That inclination is neither good nor bad; it’s just how I’m wired. The challenge comes when I start being manipulated by our “Just do it!,” externally-motivated culture. In feeling pressure to DO my ideas (turn ideas into actions), I sometimes push aside my deep need to BE with my ideas, to let them settle in and expand and take shape.
Many people—usually extroverts—believe the introvert’s love of thinking means that we’re not doers at all. So introverts try to counter that false perception by acting before we’re ready. The result? Instead of giving our ideas space to breathe, we become obsessed with how they’ll fit into a spreadsheet or grant application. We end up feeling stuck, lacking inspiration, and being overwhelmed—all red flags that pop up when we don’t honor our need to think before we act.
If you have great ideas but get stuck on implementation, consider your readiness for action: there’s a chance you’re not really stuck at all; maybe you’re simply getting ahead of yourself.
To gauge your readiness, take the time to notice where the pressure to “go, go, go!” is coming from. Is it from fear, or from confidence?
Leading from fear (for instance, rushing to action because we’re afraid we won’t meet others’ expectations) cheats our process—and our vision—of much-needed time to develop and mature.
When you feel able to take small steps forward with a sense of confidence and abundance, then you know you’re ready.
Here are a few ways for in-our-heads introverts—or anyone who feels stuck—to balance the being with the doing:
1. Slow down.
Slowing down allows you to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, to do each necessary and very doable step before making the next move. Allow yourself space to sit with your ideas long enough that you can discern which ones are most important.
2. Listen carefully.
If we rush to doing, we miss the messages that come from our inner wisdom. Put your idea out there. Pause and listen to what comes back. Act on what you hear. Listen again. Make adjustments based on the feedback. Give yourself intentional space (days, not minutes) to simply listen.
3. Trust the process.
Sometimes, it’s hard to move to action when we get bogged down in uncertainties. It’s easier to stay in the theoretical, because reality is too unpredictable. But if we slow down and listen carefully, we create more space for the process to unfold as it should (not as we might force it to). And with each step forward that comes out of honoring our process, trust grows. We learn to trust that we can handle whatever happens.
We introverts are more likely to create a healthy balance of being and doing if we give ourselves space, solitude, and silence to hear our inner truth. Then we can hear it saying clearly:
Trust the process.
Beth Buelow was seven when she outlined the marketing plan for her first entrepreneurial venture, 23 when she learned she was an introvert, and 38 when, in 2010, she put the two together to create The Introvert Entrepreneur. She is a professional coach, blogger, podcaster, speaker, and author of Insight: Reflections on the Gifts of Being an Introvert. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.