Dogs Follow Their Instincts – Do You Trust Yours?

3 Ways to Stop Overthinking So You Can Start Taking Action

Golden Retriever Puppy with Tennis BallAs I was walking on the beach the other morning, I paused for a moment to watch a golden retriever excitedly plunge into the water to fetch a tennis ball. He easily snagged it and then proudly dropped at his owner’s feet, shaking and jumping around in his own version of a happy dance.

I was struck by his exuberance and realized, I could learn a lot from his example. There have been many times when – had I been a dog – I would have stood frozen on the shoreline and analyzed the situation before venturing into the water. My canine alter ego would be thinking:

  • What if the water is too cold?
  • What if another dog beats me to the ball?
  • Will the salt water make my coat feel sticky?

And before I dipped a paw into the water, the ball might indeed have been taken by another dog or drifted beyond my reach.

Wisdom from a golden retriever

You don’t have to be the person left stranded on the beach as opportunities sail by. Here are 3 insights inspired by my dog watching to help you get into action.

  1. Pay attention. My canine friend was on alert. He saw the tennis ball in his owner’s hand and watched closely so he didn’t miss the throw. Are you missing opportunities because you aren’t that curious and observant? Tip: There are interesting possibilities all around you if you look for them! Decide on the number one thing you want to accomplish and put your focus and attention on it. Notice when helpful information and people start to show up and take action.
  2. Follow your instincts. You have excellent instincts about what you naturally love to do and are good at (though I suspect it isn’t chasing a tennis ball). What would be so much fun for you that you’d lose track of time doing it? Tip: Notice when you use words like “should”, “have to” and “can’t”. They are often signs that you are doing (or not doing) something out of obligation or fear. Give yourself permission to go after one thing you really want instead.
  3. Pursue with passion. There was no hesitation or holding back for this dog! He leapt into the water with an enthusiastic splash and kept swimming until he got that ball. (And I’d swear, he had a smile on his face when he it brought it back to his owner as if to say: “I love this game and damn, I’m good at it!”) Tip: Don’t half ass it! Have you ever started something with high energy and excitement, then started to slow your efforts when things didn’t happen quickly or easily enough? I have. And I realize it is often because one of my self doubt “stories” pops up to sabotage my progress. When you think it’s too hard and you can’t do it, remember why this goal is so important to you. Doing work you love with passion will require you to stretch beyond what you thought you could do – and that’s okay. It’s where the magic happens.

Yes, it can feel scary to trust your instincts, take action and be all in. But it’s well worth it when it inspires you to do your own happy dance.

A special thank you to that smart golden retriever who taught me a thing or two about being yourself and doing what you are born to do with passion.

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