Do, or do not. There is no ‘try’.
You’re thinking about starting a business.
You want to travel the world some day.
“If I were your age”, you tell your daughter, “I’d get out of this town too.”
You would have gotten that girl’s phone number, but then her friend came and whisked her away.
You could have kissed her. She was so into you.
You should have talked to that girl at Starbucks today. She was totally checking you out!
But you’ve been “thinking about” starting a business for the past five years. You were your daughter’s age once, and didn’t leave town. And unfortunately, whether you “could have” kissed the girl or not, the end result is the same.
In personal growth terms, the shortest distance between two points is the truth. Achieving your goals in the most efficient manner requires speaking honestly of your efforts. Aside from the whole “If you can’t _______ yourself then who can you _______?”, being honest with yourself will improve your results. When you start thinking and speaking in action-oriented, measurable terms, you cultivate a bias toward output.
Convert “Some Day” Into an Actionable Plan
The problem with “some day” is that it never comes. You can’t be held accountable for things you don’t do “some day”. It’s not uncommon to hear people spend years, or even decades, talking about this mythical point in the future.
Most plans you have for “some day” can be set in motion today. To come up with a plan you can start on right now, ask yourself questions like:
- What day is “some day”?
- What are the minimum requirements for you to say you’ve achieved this goal?
- How much money will be required?
- How do you intend to raise that money?
- If you intend to use your own savings, how much money can you put aside each month from now until you reach this goal?
- What habits will you need to develop to achieve this goal?
- Who else is involved in achieving this goal? How will you recruit them to your cause?
- What skills will you need to learn? What action can you take to start learning them?
- What kind of paperwork needs doing? A work visa? A pre-approved mortgage? Filing corporate documents?
- After examining things in more detail, is your target date for achieving this goal still realistic?
Whether your goal is to buy a car or lose weight, you can apply some combination of the questions above to invoke the chain reaction that will propel you forward to concrete results.
Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda
Instead of pretending about what might have been, face up to the truth: If you woulda, coulda, shoulda then you didn’t.
You didn’t get her phone number.
You didn’t kiss her.
You didn’t talk to that girl at Starbucks today.
The point of this translation to reality is not to encourage negative self-talk, but to keep you squarely focussed on output. You don’t get paid to consider taking action, so there’s no point talking like you do. While converting a “could have” into a “didn’t” does sting a little at first, I find it a helpful, albeit jolting reminder that it all comes down to output.
Instead of “Thinking About” Something, Do a 30-Day Trial
While some initial reflection is obviously useful, it isn’t long before “thinking about” doing something paves a never-ending road to nowhere. I find that the best way to figure out if you want to do something and/or how you’d go about doing it is to commit a short period of time, like a month, to actually implementing your curiosity.
For example, I thought about becoming a “serious” blogger for a couple of years, but I had several uncertainties. What kind of blog do I want to start? How much effort will I need to invest before I see some results? How much work will be required to create new content on a regular basis?
At the beginning of August 2007, I finally sunk my teeth into writing, and an amazing thing happened.
I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy creating content to attempt to reach people in ways that inspire them. In a little over a month, my blog got about 60,000 unique visitors from 150 countries. While I haven’t yet invested much time on technical tweaks, I’ve learned a lot about what needs to be done. I’ve developed a whole new appreciation for people who create content on a regular basis, whether it’s a weekly TV show or a blogger who consistently churns out quality posts. It’s hard, but enjoyable and rewarding work.
I can’t imagine how I would have gained this insight into being a blogger by thinking about it. The 30-day trial helped me discover what it’s like by simply experiencing it. And now I’m hooked. :)
Being honest with yourself isn’t about beating yourself up with negative self-talk. It’s about taking a personal oath to think in output-oriented terms. The most efficient path to achieving your goals requires an honest assessment of what you’ve done so far to achieve them. If you woulda, coulda, shoulda, then you didn’t. But if you own up to reality, you can.
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