Ah! It is that magical time when we are all anticipating new beginnings. We’re excited to start afresh and make big plans for the year ahead.
We all know how it ends. In just a few weeks, we will falter. Obstacles lay in our path. Life gets in the way. Soon, we are at the end of another year looking back at our carefully laid plans of 10-12 months ago. What happened?
I’ve been there. Year after year, until I started to change the way I did things and swapped out the lenses I was looking through. What were they? Let’s start with…
1. Stopping At The Plan
If I had to pick one thing, that prevents people from reaching their goals, this would be it. I suffered from this problem for years. That is, the lack of action.
You’ve heard this one before. Two frogs sat on a lily pad. One decided (or planned) to jump. How many frogs left on the lily pad?
The answer is two, because the one who planned on jumping, didn’t. You have to do it my friends.
Challenge:Track your actions. It doesn’t have to be massive action. Start tracking one push action. Such as – one money task a day.
2. Too Little Action
This one is sneaky. Because you may be taking some action and working that plan. Problem is, you may have stopped when there was a complex task that challenges you. You may have gotten side tracked. You may have hit a snag, got frustrated and throw your hands in the air.
In short, you do a little, but not everything. Not whatever it takes. You complete only a few things on that checklist. You start the journey but don’t complete.
Challenge: If you start something, finish it. Don’t allow yourself to start something new if you haven’t finished your current projects.
3. The Planning Never Stops
This is one I loathe to admit. Ever planned, and planned, and planned, but never got around to starting? You can say it is inaction, but I think it’s more than just failure to start. It’s something deeper. I suspect it’s about fear.
Fear of what? Everything. You want to account for every possible scenario and so you plan and plan.
For me, it was in part, the fear of getting things wrong. What if this project is a flop? What if I chose the wrong shopping cart and have to switch? What if customers don’t like video? What if, what if, what if. Argh! I got to a point I was plain fed up listening to my own what if’s.
Challenge: Once you have a good outline, not detailed step-by-step action plan. Just a good, solid outline, start working it.
What if it doesn’t pan out? Then you’ll know for sure and can move on to something else. Or, you can correct your course. Isn’t it so much better to know early on, than to wonder at the end of the next year if your plan is any good?
4. Planning Too Far
“I like to see my year all mapped out”, said this lady in a group I belong to. Well, that is great, but the truth is, we don’t even know we will be here tomorrow. We don’t know if we, or a family member will get sick, or injured and need our care.
We don’t even know how long the world’s economy is going to hold up. Things can and do change at the drop of the hat. So we have to learn to be flexible.
This is not to say you shouldn’t do future planning. I like short cycles. Weekly and Quarterly is where my focus lies. Anything a year or more ahead are big, visions. Not completely mapped out lists. The detailed lists only get worked out when I’m ready to start digging into that area.
Challenge: Forget that 5 year plan. Put it down as a vision. Work on shorter cycles and review at the end of each cycle.
5. Getting Too Detailed
Closely related to planning too far, is getting too deep. Are you a list person? Hey, so am I! Love me those checklists.
But I also know that my checklists can and do change. The industry changes, circumstances change. Maybe a new tool or new Facebook / Google policy comes out and makes all your little to do’s irrelevant. It has happened before.
Challenge: It’s OK to have a list of the details and tasks in a project. But only put down your next step on your daily to do list. Just one next step. Not the step after and the one after that.
6. Expecting Instant Quantum Leaps
At then end of 2012, I decided to do something different. Instead of promising to lose 15lbs, I started to make sure the daily food intake was under 1200 calories a day.
It was so insignificant on a daily basis. I didn’t think I was doing much at all but it did work. I lost 20lbs. You can read more about that story if it interests you.
From then on, I adopted this approach for my business. It has been more and more profitable every year since. And this year, I won the Better Your Best contest – all using this approach.
What is it? I struggled to describe it until I read “The Slight Edge”. The Slight Edge is about doing small tasks everyday, that over time, adds up to a “quantum leap”.
Wait… you just said expecting quantum leaps is a mistake. No, I said expecting instant quantum leaps is a mistake. BIG difference.
You may be familiar with these famous words “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. They were broadcasted on live TV in 1969, covering the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. The reality is, it took about 8 years from the time President Kennedy proposed it, to it’s fruition in 1969. Lots of people worked on the mission daily for 8 years in order for us to get that “giant leap”.
Are you willing to work tirelessly every work day for 8 years or more to get where you want to go?
Challenge: Forget the sexy headlines promising you everything in 30 days or less. True success very rarely come by in that manner. Learn to master The Slight Edge. Pick up these books. The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines into Massive Success and Happiness by Jeff Olson, and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.
7. Not Allowing Margin
Have you set out to do something, expecting to be done in 30 minutes to an hour, and end up spending half a day on it? We have a tendency to under estimate the time needed to complete a task or project.
Some suggest intense focus on the task so you can complete the task within the allocated time. That could work. Being a busy parent who had to work around toddlers who are now teens, that’s not practical for me.
I’ve come to expect interruptions. I may be able to get away with 1, maybe 2 hours of solid time. Anything beyond that, the family starts getting anxious. Instead, I learned to build in margin into every project, every task.
Challenge: Schedule twice the amount of time you think need for every task.
I hope you didn’t misunderstand me. Planning is good. You should have some kind of road map. Just don’t make that the only thing you do.
Need a planner? Grab ours, it’s free. Then take the little challenges. You will see a difference. I did.