Advertising
Advertising

7 Ways To Get Started

7 Ways To Get Started

    Most of the readers coming to Lifehack.org are looking for ways to become more productive, create cooler, better stuff, and make sure that they have some sort of work/life balance. What tends to happen during this process is that when we are trying to create things, we sometimes get stuck.

    Some call it confusion. Others refer to it as “the fear”. Regardless, this bump in the road is all about traveling over the gap from ideas to reality and happens to all creative people at some time or another. This gap from ideas to reality is something that can be handled. Here are 7 ways you can get started.

    Outline and Act

    Sometimes when you are paralyzed and just can’t get any of your ideas started you really just don’t know what to do next. Being the productivity geek that I am I feel that there is nothing that can’t be solved with outlines, lists, or mindmaps.

    So, sit down, brainstorm and outline your ideas on paper (or, of course, your favorite digital tool), pick one single, clear, next action, and then act on it no matter what.

    Copy and/or steal

    I’m not a total Apple, Inc. fanboy, but there is one quote from Steve Jobs I find interesting:

    Advertising

    “Good artists copy. Great artists steal.”

    This is good when you have an idea that others have already acted on. For example, if you want to start the next great gadget blog like Engadget, then copy what Engadget does. Don’t copy word for word from their articles, but write about the same things that they are writing about.

    Copying can help you get over the initial fear of getting started, then as you work on your ideas and plans more and more you can become more of “your own”.

    Prototype

    A prototype is a “first or preliminary model of something” and creating one can free you up from the inner voice that says “you can’t create something”. Creating a simple prototype of your idea, whether it’s a website, webapp, iPhone app, physical product, etc. you get an idea of what it will take to make your idea a reality.

    Advertising

    By creating this first “throw-a-way” model of your idea, you can show yourself that you can bring your thoughts to fruition.

    Brainstorm with outsiders

    There is nothing better than getting fresh ideas when you are at a road block. Talking to people around you that aren’t involved in your business or ideas can give you a super fresh perspective.

    Also, you can obtain some fresh criticism that may make you rethink your idea and shape it into the thing that you need to move forward.

      Focus

      If you are one that says that you are always too busy then it’s no wonder that you can’t get started on your ideas or projects. If you have a great idea and you want to make it happen but can’t find the time to get it done, then you need to focus.

      Advertising

      The only way to make sure that you can make your dream a reality is if you have the time to do it. Therefore, you need to cut something out that is less important. There are a fixed amount of hours in a day, but you are the one that has control of what you can and cannot do with those hours.

      So, either find the time and get started or ditch the idea. It’s that simple.

      Identify fears and then smash them

      If you are trying to start a business or something on the side of your “traditional job” you can have a host of fears. Instead of just letting the fears linger and then try to start your idea, you could try to identify them and then smash them.

      Write down everything that you are afraid of and then try to come up with the reasons that you are afraid. Nine times our of ten you will find that your fears aren’t grounded in reality. This can be the kick in the pants you need to get started on your idea.

      Advertising

      Expect everything less than perfection

      Even with the best idea, a solid 5-year plan, outlines and project plans, time, money, etc., your idea won’t be perfect. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

      If you go into the creation process of your ideas expecting perfection, you will be defeated in the first day. Instead expect nothing. Work hard and create what you want. Then make it better. And after that make it better.

      It’s this type of iteration and constant improvement that make good ideas great and allow you to get started without the burden of making everything great at day zero.

      Motivation is a tricky thing. Mostly because it all comes back to yourself and your choice to do something or not to do something. All the tips and tricks in the world are no good if you don’t use them and then chase your ideas. So, if you have an idea that you are not starting on, stop looking for advice, try one of the ways to get started above, and then make your idea a reality.

      More by this author

      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

      5 Project Management Tools to Get Your Team on Track To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Simple Tweaks to Make Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better

      Trending in Productivity

      1 10 Essential Steps to Success to Actually Reach Your Dreams 2 How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals 3 17 Ways Learn New Skills Faster and Enjoy the Process 4 11 Things You Should Minimize for a Better Life 5 Too Much On Your Plate? 7 Ways to Tackle It

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on September 28, 2020

      How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

      How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Personal Goals

      There’s no denying that goals are necessary. After all, they give life meaning and purpose. However, goals don’t simply achieve themselves—you need to write an action plan to help you reach your goals.

      With an action plan, you’ll have a clear idea of how to get where you want to go, what it will take to get there, and how you’ll find the motivation to keep driving forward. Without creating a plan, things have a way of not working out as you waver and get distracted.

      With that in mind, here’s how you can set goals and action plans that will help you achieve any personal goal you’ve set.

      1. Determine Your “Why”

      Here’s a quick experiment for you to try right now: Reflect on the goals you’ve set before. Now, think about the goals you reached and those you didn’t. Hopefully, you’ll notice a common theme here.

      The goals you were successful in achieving had a purpose. Those goals you failed to accomplish did not. In other words, you knew why you put these goals in place, which motivated you to follow through.

      Simon Sinek, author of Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Finding Purpose for You and Your Team, explains:

      “Once you understand your WHY, you’ll be able to clearly articulate what makes you feel fulfilled and to better understand what drives your behavior when you’re at your natural best. When you can do that, you’ll have a point of reference for everything you do going forward.”

      That, in turn, enables better decision-making and clearer choices.

      Advertising

      I’ll share with you a recent example of this in my life. Earlier this year, I decided to make my health a bigger priority, specifically losing weight. I set this goal because it gave me more energy at work, improved my sleep, and helped me be a better father—I really didn’t care for all that wheezing every time I played with my kids.

      Those factors all gave me a long-term purpose, not a superficial short-term goal like wanting to look good for an event.

      Before you start creating an action plan, think about why you’re setting a new goal. Doing so will guide you forward on this journey and give you a North Star to point to when things get hard (and they inevitably will).

      2. Write Down Your Goal

      If you really want to know how to create an action plan for goals, it’s time to get your goals out of your head and onto a piece of paper. While you can also do this electronically through an app, research has found that you’re 42% more likely to achieve your goal if it’s written down[1].

      This is especially true for business owners. If they don’t schedule their time, it’ll be scheduled for them.[2]

      When you physically write down a goal, you’re accessing the left side of the brain, which is the literal, logical side. As a result, this communicates to your brain that this is something you seriously want to do.

      3. Set a SMART Goal

      A SMART goal pulls on a popular system in business management[3]. That’s because it ensures the goal you’ve set is both realistic and achievable. It can also be used as a reference to guide you through your action plan.

      Advertising

      Use SMART goals to create a goal action plan.

         

        By establishing a SMART goal, you can begin to brainstorm the steps, tasks, and tools you’ll need to make your actions effective.

        • Specific: You need to have specific ideas about what you want to accomplish. To get started, answer the “W” questions: who, what, where, when, and why.
        • Measurable: To make sure you’re meeting the goal, establish tangible metrics to measure your progress. Identify how you’ll collect the data.
        • Attainable: Think about the tools or skills needed to reach your goal. If you don’t possess them, figure out how you can attain them.
        • Relevant: Why does the goal matter to you? Does it align with other goals? These types of questions can help you determine the goal’s true objective — and whether it’s worth pursuing.
        • Time-bound: Whether it’s a daily, weekly, or monthly target, deadlines can motivate us to take action sooner than later.

        Learn more about setting a SMRT goal here: How to Set SMART Goal to Make Lasting Changes in Life

        4. Take One Step at a Time

        Have you ever taken a road trip? You most likely had to use a map to navigate from Point A to Point B. The same idea can be applied to an action plan.

        Like a map, your action plan needs to include step-by-step instructions on how you’ll reach your goal. In other words, these are mini goals that help you get where you need to go.

        For example, if you wanted to lose weight, you’d consider smaller factors like calories consumed and burned, minutes exercised, number of steps walked, and quality of sleep. Each plays a role in weight loss.

        This may seem like a lot of work upfront, but it makes your action plan seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Most importantly, it helps you determine the specific actions you need to take at each stage.

        5. Order Your Tasks by Priority

        With your action steps figured out, you’ll next want to review your list and place your tasks in the order that makes the most sense. This way, you’re kicking things off with the most important step to make the biggest impact, which will ultimately save time.

        Advertising

        For example, if you have a sedentary job and want to lose weight, the first step should be becoming even a little more active. From there, you can add more time to your workout plan.

        The next step could be changing your diet, like having a salad before dinner to avoid overeating, or replacing soda with sparkling water.

        Learn these tips to prioritize better: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

        6. Schedule Your Tasks

        Setting a deadline for your goal is a must; it prevents you from delaying the start of your action plan. The key, however, is to be realistic. It’s highly unlikely, for example, that you’ll lose 20 pounds within two weeks. It’s even less likely that you’ll keep it off.

        What’s more, you should also assign tasks a start and end date for each action step you’ve created, as well as a timeline for when you’ll complete specific tasks. Adding them to your schedule ensures that you stay focused on these tasks when they need to happen, not letting anything else distract you.

        For example, if you schedule gym time, you won’t plan anything else during that time frame.

        Beware the temptation to double-book yourself—some activities truly can be combined, like a run while talking to a friend, but some can’t. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you can both write and catch up on Netflix simultaneously.

        While you can use a paper calendar or planner, an online calendar may be a better option. You can use it to set deadlines or reminders for when each step needs to be taken, and it can be shared with other people who need to be in the know (like your running buddy or your mentor).

        Advertising

        7. Stay on Track With Healthy Habits

        Without healthy habits, it’s going to be even more challenging to reach your goal. You could hit the gym five days a week, but if you’re grabbing burgers for lunch every day, you’re undoing all your hard work.

        Let’s say your goal is more career-oriented, like becoming a better public speaker. If you practice your speeches at Toastmasters meetings but avoid situations where you’ll need to be unrehearsed—like networking gatherings or community meetings—you’re not helping yourself.

        You have to think about what will help transform you into the person you want to be, not just what’s easiest or most comfortable.

        8. Check off Items as You Go

        You may think you’ve spent a lot of time creating lists. Not only do they help make your goals a reality, but lists also keep your action plan organized, create urgency, and help track your progress. Because lists provide structure, they reduce anxiety.

        There’s something else special about lists of tasks completed. When you cross off a task in your action plan, your brain releases dopamine[4]. This reward makes you feel good, and you’ll want to repeat this feeling.

        If you crossed out on your calendar the days you went to the gym, you’d want to keep experiencing the satisfaction of each bold “X.” That means more motivation to go the gym consistently.

        9. Review and Reset as Necessary

        Achieving any personal goal is a process. Although it would be great if you could reach a goal overnight, it takes time. Along the way, you may experience setbacks. Instead of getting frustrated and giving up, schedule frequent reviews—daily, weekly, or monthly—to see how you’re progressing.

        If you aren’t where you’d hoped to be, you may need to alter your action plan. Rework it so you’re able to reach the goal you’ve set.

        The Bottom Line

        When you want to learn how to set goals and action plans—whether you want to lose weight, learn a new skill, or make more money—you need to create a realistic plan to get you there. It will guide you in establishing realistic steps and time frames to achieve your goal. Best of all, it will keep you on track when you stumble, and we all do.

        More on Goal Action Plans

        Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

        Reference

        Read Next