“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” – Paulo Coelho
Everybody wants advice but nobody wants to do the work. If you cut the time you spend deliberating in half and spent that time actively pursuing what you want, how much farther ahead do you think you’d be? Answer honestly but don’t agonize over it (because “stressing over all that stuff in that past sure made me feel better!” said nobody anywhere ever). Your challenge, should you accept it: Less thinking, more doing. Are you in? If so, check out these 15 ways to develop the action habit.
1. Begin with the end in mind.
Drop your preconceived notions. Forget about what “society” or your friends or your family expect of you. What do you want out of life? What do you want to be remembered for? Be true to yourself and don’t worry about anybody else. Your life is yours and yours alone. It might be helpful to imagine what you think success would look like in a year or two. Begin with that and work backwards to create action steps that will take you from Point A to Point B.
2. Slow and steady wins the race.
As much as you might want something to be quick-and-easy, life just doesn’t work that way. If you run into this adventure with guns blazing, odds are you’ll find yourself in an insurmountable state of overwhelm. If you want this, start training your patience muscles because you’ll need them (trust me).
3. Break your Big Goal into baby goals.
You know what’s super discouraging? Goals so incredibly ambitious that success is like a mirage in the desert because no matter how much you move forward, you can’t help feeling like you haven’t made any visible progress. Don’t aim for 50 lbs; just lose the first 5. If you want to write a play that rivals Shakespearean tragedies, how about beginning with full focus on the first act?
4. Celebrate every minor victory.
Baby goals are great for your esteem because they offer a constant stream of positive feedback that will make you feel happy, encouraged, and productive. I don’t know about you, but I think it would be more fun to perform 20 touchdown dances than just 1.
5. Keep your eye on the prize.
Inspiration is a fleeting thing. The temptation to quit will become overwhelming, but to stay on track, remind yourself of why you want to achieve your goal in the first place. The daily grind has a way of making us lose sight of our priorities.
6. Learn from the best and brightest…
Believe it or not, you’re not alone. I’m willing to wager that people in this world are doing or have done the very thing you want to do. Read their books and blogs to learn what worked for them (and save yourself some trouble). Why reinvent the wheel when a brief remodeling will do?
7. …but stay true to you.
Do look for outside inspiration that will point you in the right direction but do not become a mere clone of another person. The reek of phoniness is so foul that it cannot be hidden (and nobody likes a rip-off).
8. Be ready to make sacrifices.
What’s more important: success or recreation? This isn’t to say you can’t have both, but action takers strive for a healthy balance between the two. Close your door so you can get work done. Roomies too much to handle? Go to a coffee shop or park bench with your notebook or laptop. Turn down the occasional invitation to a bar or restaurant if you’re in the process of flexing your hustle muscle.
9. Watch out for time bandits.
Time flies when you’re on the internet. Have you ever logged on to Facebook, Pinterest, or Reddit and told yourself you would only spend a “little while” there, but the next time you looked at the clock it was 2 or 3 hours later? Also, put down your phone. Those little 5-minute Facebook excursions can add up in a hurry. For the sake of example: If you check your Facebook 5 times a day for 5 minutes per log-in on 5 days per week, you are burning 2 hours per week.
10. Efficiency is your friend.
Strapped for time? Cook in bulk. Choose the least busy day of the week, gather your groceries, and knock-out 5-7 days of meals in a single shot. My favorite bulk-cook dishes: spaghetti with lean beef, grilled chicken salad and stir fry with white rice, tuna, corn, peas, and carrots (try this with a squeeze of lemon: you won’t be sorry).
11. Find an accountability team.
The best friends are the ones who don’t belittle you but at the same time don’t allow you to settle for anything less than your best. Make friends with people in your field via networking events like your area Chamber of Commerce or online support groups on LinkedIn.
12. Know when to walk away.
Who says you need to work until you find yourself in a comatose state? Working beyond the brink of exhaustion is counterproductive. Not only will your work past this point be subpar, but you’ll also run the risk of creating an association with your work and misery. The best work comes from a place of love and happiness. If you’re not feeling it, take the dog for a walk, catch up with some friends, take a vacation, or do something (anything!) else.
13. There is always time for fun.
Yes, you do have to make sacrifices if you desire success. No, this doesn’t mean you can’t have fun on occasion. Life isn’t meant to be devoid of fun and play. Your hard work won’t vanish during your escape; on the contrary, you’ll come back with re-charged drive and ambition.
14. Evolve as much as necessary.
Stubbornly clinging to past beliefs that were dead-wrong will sink your odds of success faster than you can say “dummkopf.” Be ready for failure, but don’t stress about it (because it’s just a learning opportunity). Brace yourself for the realization that no, you don’t have it all figured out (a fact that life will rub in your face over and over again). Sound nasty? It really isn’t. The only way to evolve is through trial and error. Keep on improving and your odds of acheiving will get better and better with every failure.
15. Go do something.
What follows is the action habit to end all action habits: All of the self-help articles in the world can’t save you if you never take action. Every time you read a book or article like this, immediately apply something from it (no matter how big or small). How are you going to apply this today?
It’s impossible, right? In order to get more done, you need to invest more time. Working ten hour days will make you more accomplished than a colleague that only works seven. Less Thinking, More Doing: Develop the Action Habit TodayFeatured photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc