I can???t begin to tell you how many times I have failed. You set out on the wide open road, full of expectations, promise and hope. Then, time goes by, things happen. Hope is replaced by the reality of what actually happens, not what you want to make happen. Desire wanes, expectations drop and unhappiness/despair/gloom set in.
Having been down this road so often, I can say that I am finally getting closer to understanding what this is all about. Why it is that we set out to do something and then don???t. It???s a combination of things but if you???re hoping for some easy explanation that can put into words what you fail to articulate to yourself, I don???t think it will be as easy as that. Here???s what I have done to make it easier and more real for me.
1. Stop trying to do everything
You really need to pick and choose. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Some achieve success and some don???t. For many, success is a journey, not a destination. How successful we are at any point in time is really about where we are in that journey. Taking on too much is a recipe for failure. We have to work at the things that are important to us, as we cannot do it all. Even if there were three or four things that were important, it???s better to focus on achieving traction on one item than nothing much at all on all of them. You have to remind yourself that this is hard and you have to cut yourself some slack. If it were that easy, you would have been able to do it some time ago but it???s not. So cutting some slack here is just about giving yourself the opportunity to make a good go at it. Being all over the place, taking on too much and trying to literally ???do it all??? is only going to make you a miserable person.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
I speak from experience. Here, the key word is focus. I have tried to do everything at one time. Multi-tasking is good for some things but certainly not for all. There???s lots to gain from pushing all else away from you and focusing on just that one thing. That intense concentration and prolonged focus helps you to really get a handle on things. The multi-tasking approach – chewing little bits of everything at any one time helps you feel like you are getting things done but you will get more depth, more substance, more meat by completing one thing at a time.
3. Developing the habit
I think this has got to be the single most important thing you can do. Develop the habit around what it is you are trying to achieve. So, if you want to make more connections with people and expand your network, you have to develop the habit of making the connection. Whether it???s picking up the phone and calling a colleague or connecting with people on LinkedIn or even meeting someone for coffee. Spending the time figuring out what you want to achieve and what habit you need to work on to develop that is hard in the beginning for you need to spend time thinking about the what, why and how. But once you have that figured out, it???s about consistency. I find, from experience, that this is really the most effective way of gaining traction. Most times, I think we just decide we are going to do something. But then once that is decision is made, we leave it up to chance or providence or worse, ???someday??? to see how best to make that happen. Yet, someday never happens. It???s like we make a decision in our head but fail to follow it up with what we will do about it. This is hard to do as you are aiming for change. Expecting random occurrences to cause you to make a connection between an event and your state of mind is wishing in vain. We need to develop the habit so that what happens around us is largely irrelevant and what then gains importance is what we are doing ourselves.
If you want to reduce your debt, cut your credit card or put it away.
If you want to save money, set an auto-debit facility up.
If you want to purchase property, start looking at property prices and visit properties.
You are connecting what you think with real-time action. You feel empowered. You see results. You are motivated to keep going.
4. One day at a time
Aim small. Do it so you can gain quick small victories that will give you confidence and that will propel you forward. It works.
5. Start now.
As I said earlier, in 6 Things I Learnt About Execution, having spoken with Marshall Goldsmith, start now. Start today. Just start. Don???t allow yourself that one excuse. Don???t give in to the malaise. Don???t allow yourself to see the mountain of work to be done, it???s only one step you need to take right now and it can be done. One step at a time.