Do Something

I’m sitting on an airplane, staring out the window, reflecting on the year past and how quickly it seems to have gone by, and thinking about all the adventures I’ve been on. December is a time of pause: we can stop and look back, and, if we really do our diligence, analyze how we can improve and get better.

I’ve met so many people this year who want to do things, but something’s not working: there’s excuse after excuse after excuse; ideas that don’t make it off the drawing board; self-defeating mechanisms that work against you instead of for you. I can’t say that I know what I’m doing all the time, but I’ve developed a few tricks that have worked along the way. And here, on the airplane, I can’t help myself: I quickly scratch out a list of motivations, of voices that I wish you would hear when you’re working hard, when you’re trying new things. This is my manifesto for 2012: to making things happen. You need to make it happen.

Do something.

This is my mantra for the year, my vision behind my actions. You won’t get anywhere faster by sitting and thinking about them. (And I realize the irony of sitting and thinking about this, even as I do it: sometimes moments of reflection are prudent. But here on the airplane, the things I’m happiest about from last year are the actions I took. The things I DID.). And I know this to be true, from the life I’ve lived so far: you need to act, even in the face of uncertainty. You need to try new things. Fail beautifully. Fail miserably. Get stuck. Be frustrated. Make microscopic movements in better directions. But above all else, we must do something.

Do something.

Here’s the presentation: Fifty handwritten notes for you, as always.

With love,


(Can’t see the presentation? Watch it on slide share). 

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39 Responses to Do Something

  1. Jenny Blake says:

    Sarah — this is AWESOME!!!! Can’t wait to share it far and wide — so cool how you put them all together! What a great coffee table book for the computer :D

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Jenny!! A few people have emailed me to ask about making this into a coffee table book, so that’s on my list of to-do’s in the ever-expanding calendar. Weee! But I love it, and hopefully I can concoct another good one here and again to share. So good to keep crossing paths with you – writers and “do-ers” like you keep inspiring me to chase after my dreams. Hugs!! :)

  2. Guy says:

    I love the irony of you thinking “you won’t get anywhere faster by sitting and thinking about them” whilst sitting on a plane thinking about your actions. Unless your goal is actually just to write a blog about writing a blog, think about thinking etc (as most blogs are), how are you making progress? Have you honestly not though “I should do stuff” before? Of course you have, and you are making the same mistake everyone, myself included, makes which is to think we can think our way out of a lifestyle of procrastination. I don’t think it’s possible, because assuming you think rationally (a stretch for most people but I’ll give you credit), you are where you are because it is the optimal solution (of productivity or achievement versus effort) for your circumstances. I don’t think that you can come to a solution on a plane which suddenly changes your whole equilibrium or life balance, however much you might think you believe it. Only by changing your life variables can you actually make a difference to these things.

    A better answer, in my opinion, is to change the balance of people around you. You take on the average mood, the average productivity, and the average competitiveness and drive of the people closest to you. Obviously this can be a painful change. And it may not be correct either…. Blogging is a great example though, everyone decides “I’m going to blog allll the time”, but most people suck at it. Why? because most people don’t get involved in the blogging community where is is accepted and reinforced that blogging is a good thing. That reinforcement is where you find time to do things which you would otherwise spend on facebook or painting your nails.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Guy! It is ironic, isn’t it?? I’m glad you caught that – I totally laughed out loud when I realized how I started this post. To be fair, the post is a reflection on a lot of action; so, thinking post-doing. I still stand by the points that I make, and I think there’s a few layers of nuance to consider. I totally make mistakes (all the time) and am probably the most guilty of all of us of over-thinking everything. Perhaps it’s thought, coupled with action, that really makes a difference. If you find yourself thinking the same thing over and over again, then it’s time to figure out something to do about it – even if we don’t have enough information, even if we’re afraid, even if it’s terrifying. I agree with your points! As I mentioned in my response to Leonie, too— it’s more complex than just “doing without thinking” and I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should just do things willy-nilly. However, I think many people (like you) understand that it is a blend of thought, analysis, reflection, and the guts to act, even in the face of uncertainty. So it’s BOTH about thinking and doing, but making sure to note that doing things often stimulates the best food for our thinking and analysis – rather than the other way around.

      On your second point, about the balance of people around you: I like that idea: choose the best environment. I was trained in environmental psychology, and SO MUCH of who we are is influenced by the environment(s) we put ourselves into. It’s not about changing the people around you (ie, trying to “fix” them – in that case, I’d say we should focus the energy internally rather than externally) – but it’s about choosing to spend time with people who make us our best.

  3. Leonie says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Thanks for this, what a great way to go into 2012! I recently found your website (not even sure how anymore), and I’ve been pacing myself not to read it all at once because it never fails to make me want to, you guessed it, do something.

    On a separate note, I disagree with Guy above, actually. Yes, there is some basic thinking involved in the concoction of any idea, but for anything to come of it the next step is to take action, see how that’s working, go back and alter the original idea if necessary, and keep repeating that cycle of action.

    Guy’s example of changing the people around you to change your circumstances is in essence an example of taking action; but I believe we can also take action despite our circumstances. We’re not dependent on them for our success, we try to do something regardless of them. The one piece of equipment in this crazy thing we call life that is somewhat under our control is ourselves – that’s where changes can be made, and they will often have an effect on circumstances.

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Leonie! I have stumbled on so many websites and never quite know how I got there – it’s like a perpetual Alice-In-Wonderland effect, or the closet in the Narnia tales (wonderful, isn’t it?).

      I agree with your points — it’s more complex than just “doing without thinking” and I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should just do things willy-nilly. However, I think many people (like you) understand that it is a blend of thought, analysis, reflection, and the guts to act, even in the face of uncertainty.

      Cheers to 2012!

  4. Amy says:

    Great great great post! What a unique way to present your ideas!

    I’ve written a few posts on this subject, too, and they all come down to what you say: DO SOMETHING. As strong as that inner defeatist can be and as many obstacles as one may come across, we must always weight the outcome with the current situation: Is it worth it? Most of the time, it most definitely is!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks Amy!!! Do Something has been my mantra all year — I have a funny story about trying to buy something from a shoemaker who interrupted me while I was thinking and said, “if you don’t know what to do … do nothing.” I so vehemently disagreed that I packed up my things and quickly high-tailed it outta that store! It’s scary, difficult, terrifying, hard: but, always, do something. Best of luck to you in the next month, year, etc!! Stay in touch!

  5. Great advice … thank you for sharing. Love your work! To 2012!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks so much Paul! Now I need to just sit down and take all this advice, too :) — it’s not easy, that’s for sure!

  6. You know I love these… My favorite is #6: “To be successful, put your nose down and get damn good at something.”

    • Sarah says:

      Haha, I love that one too. It’s not glamorous, 99% of the time. Most of it is hard, grunt-worthy, effort-ful “work,” but it’s worth it.

  7. Greg Hartle says:

    Excellent. Perfect little motivator to close this year with action and carry the momentum forward. Thx.

    • Sarah says:

      Of course! So glad to have met you this year. I’m sure we’ll see a lot of each other in the next one – until then – Happy New Year!

  8. mac says:

    at age 60, I would say am amazed your post caught my interest on things i can do and should have done. The “should have done” , i will share with my childrent and only grandson.

    Thanks and Happy New Year!

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks!! I think there’s so much we can do — at any age — and often, our minds are the only thing that really get in our way. You can probably do a lot of amazing things this coming year — what’s your secret ambition or dream?? Thanks for stopping by and saying hello!

  9. […] Sarah Kathleen Peck’s Do Something 2012 Inspirations […]

  10. Paul-Henri says:

    Really inspiring.
    Got inspired.

    Thank you


  11. […] from December: I was blown away by the shout-out on Pro Blogger and response to the recent Do Something: Slide Share presentation (which reached 80,000 views!). WOW.  I’m blown away! Based on […]

  12. Jason Tung says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I wish to thank you for putting this together. As I was wandering around my emails, your slideshow was recommended in one of the financial blog newsletters that I usually just skim through. The cover caught my attention, and I became addicted slide after slide. Then, yesterday I chose the top 10 slides that I were my absolute favorites and presented them (with full credits to you of course :) to 30 English language learners, here in China. They were truly inspired, and I’ve passed on the link to them so that they can experience your slideshow in its entirety.

    Your thoughts and inspiration help everyone around the globe. And I will visit your site frequently to check what’s new. Keep it up! Personally, I need to “do somethings” too.


    • Sarah says:

      Jason: this is the comment that totally makes me skip, laugh, and sing in the morning. I am so happy and awe-struck that this found it’s way to you, and that you got so much value and use out of it. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for sharing it with other people as well. I hope that you’re each taking more chances and doing great work. Good luck in 2012!

  13. Tom says:

    Really enjoyed what your presentation.

  14. […] But looking back is only useful for so long. So you face forward, stay focused and do something. […]

  15. […] big ideas. It’s about balancing movement and reflection with learning, consumption, and creation. And here on the island, scribbling in my notebooks, I wrote this in a long-form message to one of […]

  16. Beth says:

    Hi there,

    I came across your website by chance, because I happened to follow a link from Get Rich Slowly (I’m passionate about saving money!), and I think I’ve found my new favourite place to visit, because not only do you write well and make sense, you’re a fan of open-water swimming, despite having not competed as a child. Well, me too! I could completely relate to your post on swimming 6 miles from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate (although my furthest swim’s only been 1.9km so far), and I’m desperate to read the second part. Guess I’ll have to wait for the book?

    Thank you for your site – I need to watch this presentation every day as a kick up the proverbial, and to remind me life’s not a rehearsal :-)

  17. Shellie says:

    Hey Sarah,
    I’ve watched the slide show several times but when I went to watch it again today it wouldn’t let me. Not sure what the problem is just wanted you to know. Love it! Your web site is very inspiring. Now as you say I need to just do SOMETHING!

  18. […] No one cares about your ideas. They care about what you do with those ideas. […]

  19. How To Live. says:

    […] Say no to things that don’t fit into that. Figure out what you want. Don’t know what it is? Do something until you figure out what it […]

  20. […] out and hug someone. Humanity is being grateful for your family, your friends, and your ability to do something in this […]

  21. […] everyone who comes to the conference to get inspired must also leave knowing that they are going to do something to make change in the world they […]

  22. […] I’m not sure I’ve ever “figured out what I’m doing,” by sitting around and thinking about it for a little longer. Sure, thinking is necessary. But so is action–and so often we are paralyzed from action from the sheer process of over-thinking. Our minds whir around the idea that ”if we just figure out the perfect statement, then we’ll be ready to tell people.” And if I just figure it out first, then it will be okay. The irony is that you’ll learn more from tripping and stumbling and iterating than by circling through your brain any longer. You’ve got to get out and do. […]

  23. Jezrel says:

    Speechless. Moved. Inspired. Thank you so much, Sarah.

  24. […] of “I’m Fine, Thanks,“ (the documentary by Crank Tank Studios), a digital copy of Do Something, and a copy of the upcoming book by Shane Mac, Stop With The BS. If you haven’t yet, make sure […]

  25. […] laughed out loud at this. YES. If you’re bored, go do something: there’s too much going on to sit behind your screen and spend any more time thinking when […]

  26. […] Do Something […]

  27. […] So here’s to living now. Doing something now. Start something. […]

  28. […] was another blog post that I read years ago, but it didn’t fully strike my attention until now. In this post she […]

  29. […] how that’s better than living for a long time without that sense of limited time. Sarah K. Peck (@sarahkpeck) has a similar refrain to get out and do something in this life. Something you want to do and not […]