Click, click, click. You go through a number of websites, absorbing as much as you can about a topic. Before you know it, hours pass and you’re still reading article after article.The problem is: You haven’t actually done anything. Sound familiar?
I used to do this for hours at a time. I would research on a topic, whether it was on exercise, writing, or even how to become productive, but nothing would get done. I would take in a lot of information, but none of it seemed to help.
Doing of an analysis of what we’re supposed to do is often a way of making ourselves feel productive. It seems as if we’re doing something to reach our goals. But there’s a difference between being busy and productive.
Busy means performing tasks that may or may not produce results, while being productive is when you take concrete steps to achieve a goal.
Consuming information rather than doing something is a way of putting off what we know we should be doing. Postponing what’s important masks our deep-rooted fears, whether they include fear of change, fear of failure, or even a fear that we may become successful.
But if you go through each of these 5 steps, you’ll find it a lot easier to start taking steps towards what you want to achieve:
1. Stop obsessing over minutiae
We’re bombarded with decisions all the time. From the moment we wake up, we have to decide what to wear, what to eat, and what we need to do. And that’s before any real work gets done!
Every day, you’re faced with a range of small to big decisions to make. It’s important that you differentiate between the two in order to set priorities. For example, deciding what to eat for breakfast is a small decision, while considering whether to leave your job is a large decision.
At first, it sounds obvious that we should be putting more energy into critical decisions that may impact us for years to come. But surprisingly, it can be tempting to obsess over insignificant details and choices, which takes up the finite energy we have for more critical decisions.
So instead, plan ahead of time for the smaller details of your day so that you can think more clearly when it comes to big decisions.
2. Know that things don’t have to be perfect
It’s easy to keep yourself from starting anything by telling yourself, “It’s not the right time”, or “I just need to get this one thing before I can start working towards my goal.”
But the truth is, now is the best time to get started on your goals. Things will never be perfect. And if you keep waiting until you are in the perfect situation, what if that moment never arrives?
Waiting until later can mean increased responsibilities, whether it’s finances, family, or whatever life decides to throw at you. So instead of stalling and waiting for an opportune moment, a better way to approach your goal is to think: What is one small task I can do today that will get me closer to what I can to achieve?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle
3. Set a deadline
There’s a difference between urgent and important. Sometimes, what’s important to us isn’t necessarily urgent. This might include your desire to write a book, get into shape, or start a business.
We don’t feel a need to do any of these immediately because no one’s pushing us to do so and nothing bad will happen if we choose not to. Unfortunately, the nature of these things makes them easy to put off until later.
Instead, create a sense of self-inflicted urgency. Make something that is important, urgent as well, so that you feel compelled to do something about it. For example, if you’re looking to get into shape and haven’t exercised in months, just set a simple task. Your simple task could be to stretch in front of the TV by tonight or to go on a walk by the end of the week.
The deadline should be sometime close, and the task should be simple enough that it’s hard to make excuses.
4. Take a small step each day
You’ve probably heard of the term “overnight success”. You know, the people who went from nothing to instant riches and fame. It seems as if those individuals were chosen from obscurity to become successful.
However, what you don’t see underneath is all the years of work and dedication it took to get there. As billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban says, “Everyone tells you how they are going to be special, but few do the work to get there. Do the work.” He didn’t become successful overnight. It took years of work, experimenting and failing, in order to get where he and other successful people are today.
And doing the work starts with just doing one thing right now.
5. Quit over planning
When people first set out to accomplish something, they soon find themselves overwhelmed with all sorts of information. How do I set this up? What if there’s nobody interested in my product? It worked for him, but it might not work for me…
A number of reasons begin to pop up in our heads about why we can’t do something. We plan ahead in our minds about all the problems that are likely to pop up, before we’ve even done anything yet.
So the first thing to keep in mind is, stop planning out everything. It’s good to know where you’re headed, but also realize that when obstacles do come up, you’ll deal with them when the time comes.
“If you feel like there’s something out there that you’re supposed to be doing, if you have a passion for it, then stop wishing and just do it.” – Wanda Sykes
I believe that success is something you acquire gradually, each and every single day. The more work you put into your craft, the more you’ll get out of it. All you need is the courage to know that the road to success is in front of you, if you’re willing to travel on it.