This blog post is dedicated to everyone who struggles with getting things done.
I recently watched part of a graduation speech given by Shonda Rhimes, powerhouse producer of the Thursday evening lineup on ABC, in which she advises graduates to be DO-ers instead of dreamers. I thought to myself, “Oh crap, that’s really great advice! I wished someone had told me that when I graduated from college”. Here’s why I agree with her.
One thing I noticed a lot when I ran my web design business is that people were always coming to me with their dreams, but were not always willing to do the work necessary to make them happen. They wanted me to make it happen for them without input from them. In most cases I ended up chasing them to get information that they didn’t want to take the time to get out of their head. I would gently prompt them to confront the work necessary to accomplish their dream and after two tries of this I became more forceful. One of two things happened: 1) they did the work necessary for us to accomplish their dream of launching their website or 2) they wouldn’t do the work and we could never get the project off the ground. There was always a lot of excuses standing in the way. “I am so busy”, “I am not a great writer”, “I’ll get it to you next week”, etc. While I know all too well the amount of work on the plate of a small business owner, I also know that effective planning and execution is critical to launching any project. Bringing anything worthwhile to life, requires hard work, commitment, and consistency. These principles also apply to your relationships; with your spouse, if you are single and dating, with your children, in your career, and with yourself. They are universal truths that will impact all areas of your life.
So I wanted to discuss some of the key elements of being a DO-er (not a comprehensive list by any means)
1. Be consistent, even when you don’t feel like it. I thought about this a lot as I started writing this post. I had many different reasons for putting it off and not writing today. I could sleep in late, I’m tired, I have laundry, etc. In the end, I knew that in order for me to attain my dream of being an great writer, that I have to continue to practice my craft often and consistently. This also applies to my eating and exercise. When I slack off, I don’t get the results I crave. To change my body and my life, I have to be consistent! Enough said.
2. Set a deadline, and stick to it. When you set a deadline, it really pushes you to get there. I recommend that you write it down and share it someone that can help you to be accountable. If you want to accomplish your dream by next year, then “Is you bout it?” as my boys would say. Meaning are you gonna be about your business? If you are truly serious about making your dreams happen, you will put the necessary action behind it to be bout it!
3. Don’t give up, because quitting is NOT an option! Even if you set a deadline and you don’t make it, don’t quit. Refocus and reassess and then set a new deadline. Figure out why you may not have met your deadline. Maybe it was too short, you need more time. Make sure it is achievable and attainable. A little success can really spur you on. Just remember that you can’t quit, no matter how difficult the task. This even applies if you are the only person who is affected. Don’t quit on yourself! Take quitting off the table.Now what are you gonna do? Are you gonna press on? Yeah, that’s what I thought!
4. Make a list of achievable tasks. Create a checklist of tasks that you can accomplish towards your goal. I have worked with lots of software developers using a technique called Agile where we work towards a deadline every two weeks. At the end of two weeks we always have working software. To get to this point we break our work down into achievable tasks. We track our time and make sure we check off when a task is done. Isn’t this better than just saying that you want to lose 50 pounds by Christmas? How about 5 pounds by November 1st by eating breakfast every day, getting 8 hours of rest, drinking 6-8 glasses of water, working out a minimum of 40 minutes a dat, etc.? Which option do you think gets you to your deadline?
5. Be accountable and a person of your word. This is one is huge! If you say you are going to do something, do it! Kids are great for getting you to remember this one. Don’t tell a kid you are going to do something and then forget to do it, they never let you live it down. This is an attribute that has weeded out many a date. If someone you are dating is constantly breaking their word to you, they are probably not good husband material. We are not talking about one time he forgot to call, we are talking about habitually breaking his word. This shows a lack of maturity, integrity and concern for your feelings. But you must exhibit those same qualities that you want others to possess. In an Agile team, any one person that doesn’t complete his tasks, impacts the entire project. Think of your role as critical to the whole of the project. Without your input, there’s no working software. What a motivator right? Do you want to be the weak link? Keeping your word is so much better than the pain associated with breaking it. This even applies to promises you make to yourself. Remember this when you try to cheat on your new eating plan.
6. Don’t procrastinate, git ‘er done! Procrastination is usually the result of several different issues, one of which is fear. Are you afraid of failing? Are you afraid of success and all that comes with it? Or maybe you just don’t know what you should be doing to reach your goal. With YouTube University and the Book of Google, there really isn’t any excuse. So much knowledge is available by the click of a mouse. If you don’t know, do your research. Run ideas by a friend and get feedback. Take consistent action and START! No excuses!!
7. Focus on only ONE project/goal at a time. Sometimes we bite off more than we can chew. You are likely to be more successful if you can focus on one project or goal at a time. This allows you to really immerse yourself in the project instead of getting distracted by lots of other projects. Most people think they can multi-task, especially women. Well you can’t, because multi-tasking is a misnomer. There is no such thing. Be present with one project and be mindful as you engage. It will produce the best results when you approach your dreams or projects this way. Clean just your closet, work on one book at a time, or plan a single activity with your son. When you reach your deadline you will feel a great sense of accomplishment that you consistently stayed the course right up until the end.
8. Celebrate your successes! When you reach your deadline/goal, and I know you will if you do steps 1-7, its time to celebrate! Pour on the praise! This works great with kids. Reward them for reaching their deadline. Praise your spouse if he finishes a project around the house. It’s great to be able to just take in what you have accomplished because it fuels you for your next challenge, dream or goal! When you know that you have the process down of achieving your dreams you can consistently exercise your dreammaker muscle again and again.
You see, you have the power to make your dreams come true. Be a DO-er, and create momentum and consistent action by starting now, no more procrastinating! Even though I believe faith and prayer are critical to the process, they are not going to manifest what you desire unless you put consistent action behind it. This applies to all areas of your life, whether in your relationships, with your children, at work, or with your own personal goals. Don’t quit, keep at it, knowing that you are getting closer to your deadline. Make a date with your destiny and forge ahead knowing that, like Dorothy, you have had it within you all along.
Until next time,