We’ve all been thru heartaches, depressions, unfulfilled aspirations & endlessly chasing dreams. The list can go on & on. Often I hear statements such as “That’s not what I wanted to do for a living”, “I regret not doing such & such”, “I wish I fulfilled my dream of (fill in the blank)”. My grandmother used to say that “worst things on the end of life are regrets”. I’m sure if you ask an elder or someone on their dead bed, they will share what they regret not doing. It only requires a little bit of effort, commitment & inspiration. Goals without diligence are useless.
Accomplishments don’t necessarily have to entail to promotion, productivity or profits. Sometimes the most fulfilling things we do in our lives bring very little recognition. Write down what your goals are or what you’d like to change or accomplish in your life. Specify time frame- if it’s now, within the year or long term. It is the list otherwise known as the “bucket list”. The same list that we carry with us most of our lives, reminding us of how much more we have to accomplish. It is important to write all of it down & place it somewhere where you can always see it. Don’t write things that scare you, but I do recommend confronting fear at least one time. Facing fear is essential for personal growth. Figure out what it is & come up with the way to confront it in a way that encourages you. Don’t be afraid of failure. The only thing worse than failure is not trying at all.
When the list is done put it somewhere. On the fridge, pin it to the wall, tape it to the TV…I don’t care where it is as long as you can always see it. It’s been proven that putting thoughts or ideas in writing contributes to its completion.
If you can’t come up with an inspiration, try desperation. Desperately try to find something major you’d like to change or something small to accomplish. Keep in mind, it’s not the size of an accomplishment but the accomplishment itself. The point is to get out & do something. As Nike would say, “Just Do It”! Shift to a determined, creative mindset. It’s been said that journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So whether it’s a 1 mile run or preparing five course dinner- small wins & successes are better than no wins at all. Gain momentum by starting small. The smaller the goals- better the chance of its achievement. Try to find an inspiration in your rear view mirror. What life experiences or events from your past can help you move one step forward? What have you accomplished so far that can give you a jumpstart? Give it some thought. I’m sure you can come up with a list of examples. What if your life depended on it and in order to live you had to make one dream come true? I bet that it would get you going. All of the sudden you would find motivation or money to do it. You would immediately carve out time for whatever you need to complete. Absolutely. Frame your mind, have realistic dreams & I predict lots of successes. Despite of what Rolling Stones tell you, time is not on your side. The clock is ticking so no better time like the present.
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, start paving another one” – Dolly Parton
You know that I’m a big proponent of working hard, which sometimes translates to work more, never stop learning & continue to accomplish more in life. However life is not all about racking up lists of accomplishments & goals. If this is your one & only way of validating self worth- you might get discouraged & burn out very quickly. The tail will end up wagging the dog. The time passes by in a speed of light, as we jump from one item in our list to the next. The common philosophy is that if you don’t move forward, you stand still or move backwards. Instead of swallowing one project after another and keep extending your to do list, reverse your process once in a while and find a shortcut of how to do less. More is, well, not always more. I’ve read somewhere that overachieving is the enemy of productivity & happiness. What if getting more done isn’t by addition, but subtraction?
We all need breaks. Walk away from your work, your to-do list & your calendar. Leave this time for absolutely nothing. Allow yourself to waste time & just hang out. Go for a walk or run & literally only walk or run. With no music in your ears. Don’t think about anything. Don’t even be mindful (that’s more thinking). Let your mind just wonder off & see where it takes you. Do you need a break from seeing people? Go for it! Time alone will clear your head. Ditch unnecessary meetings. Delegate some of your workload if you absolutely must but always check on progress & don’t lose the pulse. Slow down & make more time for yourself. Use your time more meaningfully & productively so you have time for things that give you joy. Celebrate by doing less that day. It’s not about doing less physically, but working differently. Consider what else you might stop doing. Remove unnecessary busy work in lieu of doing what really matters. Have habits & routines in your life. When you have a “system”, doing things efficiently is never a question. It also eliminates meaningless decisions & will make you more productive.
To conclude, I’d like to share an exercise that I came across once. First, identify a specific goal or an area of your work that you’d like to improve. Then, take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On the left-hand side, make a list of all of your daily tasks, and on the right-hand side, make a list of your biggest “wins” — the work milestones you’re most proud of. Draw a line connecting each of your wins to related daily tasks, and circle those tasks. Finally, step back and look at what’s left uncircled on your list. These are the tasks that you should either stop doing, significantly minimize, or delegate to others. Abandoning work that isn’t helping you meet your goals will give you more time to focus on the work that is. I hope this helps you do more by doing less.
“Improved productivity means less human sweat, not more” – Henry Ford
While growing up we all heard a phrase “Is this the best you can do?” or “Only a B and not an A?” Now in life whether we’re launching new business, new career or new projects we tend to get hard on ourselves & apply the same thinking process. As a result we end up being our own worst critics and enemies. We let fear & doubt to take over and we start coming up with resistance, excuses and eventually we abandon the project. More than once I thought to myself “This is such a waste of time”, “I’m not good with this & it will fail me”, “I’m too old”..Sounds familiar? I have mentioned this already, as soon as you start to think that something is a waste of time or you’re not ready, it means you should go for it. Now! So what if you fail. Failure is part of live and we are going to experience it. We have to experience it. More than once. There is no learning process otherwise. You will never learn if you don’t make mistakes. I wrote about failure in my previous blog.
Don’t compare yourself to others because you’re not them. You are you and your projects are unique and you came up with it. Stand up for your ideas & put your unique spin on it. Only you can see it the way it supposed to be created. So respect your desires & make it happen. Shift to a determined, creative mindset. You owe it to yourself! There are always lessons learned with criticism as long as it’s constructive. Learn from your critics. But don’t allow people who didn’t create or accomplish anything to criticize you or give you advice. Don’t allow ridicule in your life either. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect. You can always get better with what you do but you will never be perfect. Don’t let the circumstances control you. Someone said that fear is the enemy of inspiration. So sleep with the enemy. Have a relationship with it. Create smallest goals possible first. Aim high but start low. Series of small successes is better than no successes at all. And don’t forget to scream if it’s too much. But don’t be so hard on yourself.
“Success is falling nine times and getting up ten”- Jon Bon Jovi