Are you a planner? Someone who frequently makes lists, has big ideas, and comes up with a plan to execute them? Maybe you do this mostly in the morning, get up bright and early before work, have a cup of coffee and a good breakfast, and then sit down and get to it before heading to work for the day.
Maybe you dream about having them done, about the day all this stuff is accomplished, and how amazing your life will be. How all your problems will be fixed and you’ll finally have the life you’ve always wanted, full of freedom and happiness.
But then you get home from work, and you’re tired. By the time you have dinner and feed the pets its 8pm and you just want to relax and watch some TV. So you say ‘I’ll do it all tomorrow.’
This is how I’ve been my entire life.
Now don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad thing. I love the way I am and you should too! Whatever personality we are dealt takes work to master. Writing lists is a great way to get things off of your mind and minimize anxiety. I’ve spent a substantial chunk of time struggling with motivation and work ethic. And even though I’ve figured out how to make the most of it, there are still times when it gets the best of me. Realizing that you will always be in a battle between the ideal you and the worst you helps you stay on track.
But there is one better method for defeating anxiety, for obtaining the ideal you and accomplishing all of your dreams: Action.
Dale Carnegie said “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
If you look at the most successful people you know. The ones who are happy, healthy, and seem to have it all together, you may notice a commonality. They all Produce.
They get things done! Lots of things, every day! They are the ones you see working on a dozen projects at once, keeping their entire life in order and still having time to rest and relax. Some of them plan, yes, but as soon as they are done planning they start, and they accomplish. They don’t often say ‘I’ll do it later.’
Now I’m not saying anyone should go out and work 14 hours a day, but if you want to learn to take action and really move forward in life, here are 5 great tips:
1. Schedule your day during that burst of motivation. If you spend one hour a day working on a project, you’ll be able to accomplish more than you could imagine. If you precisely schedule that time and then tell yourself you can relax afterwards, it will be much easier to stick to it later when you are tired. Small steps lead to great displacement!
2. Start Small and Build Habits. In the movies, people change overnight ALL THE TIME. But real life doesn’t work like that. Humans are hard wired to build routines, and those routines become the path of least resistance in our brains. We will revert to them simply because we have built the thought process over months and years. If you make small changes at first and keep them consistent, you can make more changes as you move forward. This is also a good way to start working out. Many people fail because they try to do too much too quickly.
3. Make a checklist or chart that lets you track progress. How do you know how far you’ve come unless you can see it? At the end of the day I write down everything I’ve accomplished, and it helps me feel motivated to continue tomorrow. You can make a chart, calendar, list, anything, but take 5 minutes to do it and you will see the progress!
4. Things we don’t want to do are much more difficult in our heads. I hate doing dishes, but I also have limited counter space, so if I want to cook dinner I have to do them. I’ve spent hours finding ways to ignore doing the dishes, but once I finally do them, I realize they only really take about 10 minutes, and then I feel good after doing them. Its amazing how much we can accomplish in very little time. Time yourself the next time you do a task you’ve been avoiding, then measure the time you’ve spent avoiding it. You’ll end up with an interesting result.
5. Earn the time off. The key word here is ‘Earn.’ If you come home after that long day at work and have dinner and feed the pets and its 8pm and you’re tired, but you scheduled in an hour of work on that big personal project and made it to 9pm, take that last hour to watch TV before bed, and feel good about it because you’ve earned it. You won’t feel anxiety about what’s left to do. You will truly relax.
Take action and you will be amazed at what you can do. And remember: What is easiest is not always the best thing for us, even though that’s what we always go to first.
Get to it!