Improve Your Life #28: Act Now!
The right time to start is now! Whatever you are planning, if you are serious about it take the first step immediately. Many people have plans like get fit, write a blog post, start a business, learn Chinese, etc. These are end results that you thing you want to achieve. It seems distant and huge, and our brain tells us. “No, no. I’ll deal with this small matters first, then after everything is out of the way I will victoriously tackle the GOAL”. Procrastination! We all do it and we’re all looking for ways to beat procrastination.
Next I will offer some tips that help me be more productive and get something done from time to time.
First, understand the reason why you have to do the task at all. Write a blog post to get more visibility, get fit to have more energy, start a business to achieve financial freedom, learn Chinese to do business on the most populous market in the world. List the actual benefits of completing the task. This is the motivation why you want to do it. Thinking about the task and effort you need to put in just frightens you and makes you procrastinate. Set SMART goals to motivate you.
Second, describe the first step. What is the first thing you have to do to get moving? I suggest that even before creating a whole plan for the for your activities figure out the first step and do it. Act NOW! You have plenty of time to get the details right later, but now go. In Losing My Virginity Branson says that when he had an idea to start an airline he calle Boeing to find out how much would it cost to lease a plane. Your ambition may be smaller for now but act now.
Third, take the first step. This can be something really simple. Spend at least 10 minutes on your first step. If you can spend more than 10 minutes but get going and get the first result. For a blog post the first step might be to write an outline. If you want to get fit go out right now (stop reading and go). If you want to start a business list the reasons why people want to buy what you offer. If you want to learn Chinese learn the 10 most commonly used phrases online.
Action is the foundational key to all success. ~~Pablo Picasso
By acting right now you will get momentum. You have already started. You have a feel for it. At the end of the first step make sure you know what the next step is. Make a decision to take that next step within 24 hours to keep the momentum going.
Fourth, commit to keep at it. The point of immediate action is to get going but to keep going you have to commit to some action every day. Take really small steps if you have to but do it every single day. This will make the actions you have to take a routine habit you don’t have to think about. It’s just something you do every day. Over time you will be able to work longer on the tasks you want to get done. You will reach the point where doing your tasks is just like brushing teeth. You don’t think “OMG! Not brushing teeth, again! When will it end!”, you just brush your teeth more or less automatically and move on with your day.
Take a wall calendar and cross off the day after you are done with the task for that day. Make an unbroken chain of crosses. Every day, no breaks, and the momentum will carry you through. Schedule some minor tasks even for weekends. 10 to 15 minutes to make a little progress so you can cross off the day. Do one thing at the time. Take action every day!
A word of warning. If you commit to your tasks and want to build the momentum every day then you have to select your goals carefully. First take just one big thing you want to get done. Trying to do too many things at once will deplete your willpower and you’ll soon find out that there are not enough hours in the day. After you have reached the point when working at that task has become a routine then you may add another.
Now, select a goal you want to reach. Determine the first step and act now!