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Overcoming the Mental Hurdle: Why Thoughts Are Tougher Than Actions

Coach Suniya Iqbal by Suniya Iqbal
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The thought of something is often worse than the action itself.

Have you ever found yourself procrastinating or hesitating when it comes to taking action? It's a common human tendency to let our thoughts hold us back from achieving our goals and living our best lives. For this purpose let's use the example of going for a run. Let's delve into the psychology behind this phenomenon and provide you with strategies to conquer the mental hurdles that may be holding you back.

The Mental Obstacle Course

1. Fear of the Unknown: One of the primary reasons why thoughts can be more daunting than actions is the fear of the unknown. When you think about going for a run, you might imagine feelings of exhaustion, discomfort, or even failure. These negative thoughts can be paralysing, making it difficult to take that first step out the door.

Coaching Tip: When you're faced with the fear of the unknown, try shifting your focus away from the negative thoughts. Instead, visualise the sense of accomplishment, improved health, and the feeling of freedom that comes with running. This positive mindset shift can help you overcome the initial mental barrier.

2. Perfectionism: Many of us struggle with perfectionism, believing that we need to be flawless in our endeavours. This mindset can make the thought of taking action seem overwhelming because we fear we won't meet our own unrealistic standards.

Coaching Tip for Yourself: Understand that progress is more important than perfection. If you don't take action there won't be any progress at all. Small progress is better than no progress. Celebrate your efforts and small wins along the way. It's about taking imperfect action and learning and growing from each experience.

3. Anticipating Discomfort: Thoughts of discomfort, pain, or struggle can deter us from taking action. We may imagine ourselves out of breath, sore, and unable to complete the run.

Coaching Tip for Yourself: Embrace discomfort as a sign of growth. It's temporary, and it signifies that you are pushing your boundaries and making progress. Remember, you're stronger than you think.

4. Overthinking: Overthinking can paralyse even the most determined individuals. When you think too much about going for a run, you create mental roadblocks and endless "what if" scenarios.

Coaching Tip for Yourself: Practice mindfulness techniques to stay present and break the cycle of overthinking. Focus on the present moment and the simple act of putting on your running shoes. It's the first step that counts the most.

Taking Action: The Antidote to Mental Hurdles

1. Start Small: Instead of thinking about running a marathon, start with a short jog. Even if its jogging for 1 minute. Set the expectation so low that it would be silly not to do it. Starting small makes the action seem less intimidating and more achievable.

2. Set Realistic Goals: Establish specific, achievable goals for your runs. Whether it's working towards running a certain distance or for a specific duration, having clear goals provides motivation and direction.

3. Accountability: Consider finding an accountability partner or working with a coach who can provide support, guidance, and motivation.

4. Celebrate Progress: Remember to celebrate your successes, no matter how small. Recognising your progress boosts your confidence and motivation to keep going.



The thought of taking action, whether it's going for a run or pursuing any other goal, can often be more painful and challenging than the action itself. It's essential to recognise and overcome these mental hurdles. By shifting your mindset, setting achievable goals, and taking small steps, you can conquer your fears and achieve success. It's not about eliminating negative thoughts entirely but learning to navigate them and take action despite their presence. Your journey toward personal growth and positive change starts with that first step.

So go for that run, go to that dance class, declutter your wardrobe, write that email, tell that person how you feel, do whatever you need to do and face that mental hurdle. You'll feel good after, I promise.


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