Almost every person on this planet, has to deal with the problem “how to get things done” on a regular basis. I will not talk about small things like; buy groceries or take out the trash. I will talk about bigger goals that we all have set to ourselves that will make some kind of improvement to our life and want to achieve them for some reason. If you want to promote your career or you want your business to be a big success, perhaps you want to renew your old house, maybe it’s a college diploma you want, or it could just be that six pack that you always wanted. For all of those things to happen you, you have to get some things done and not all of us are good at getting things done. I will try to point out the mistakes we usually do and give some pointers how to be more persistent and focused to goals that have been set.
As we all know, there are plenty of good starters among us but only few good finishers. And why is that so? It is easy to be motivated for something for a short period of time, especially when everything is new and exciting. But it is really hard work to be consistent for a longer period of time, maybe months or even years. It’s easy to start something; it’s much harder to consistently finish it. And that is what separates successful people from the rest. Imagine where would your life be if you’d finish everything you ever set for yourself. Everyone of us have set ourself great goals in our lives that were never finished. Why did we not finish those goals? Were they really that hard or were we just to lazy?
What does the word sustainability mean? Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Endure what? Well in our case it is to endure whatever we have committed to do for a longer period of time.
I will try to explain the most common mistake we all tend to make, when we start something new.
For example; we have decided to run every day. The first day we manage to run for half an hour. The second day we force ourselves to run a little longer. And so on for a few days, until we hit the wall of exhaustion. We have been now running for a few days and at the end for more than an hour in one session.
Well that cannot be good if we haven’t run before for a longer period of time and still most of us are doing it. It is the most common mistake of good starters and bad finishers that we try to overdo everything we start. It is like someone would want to climb the Everest and would begin with a mad sprint at the foothills of the mountain. It is obvious that that man will not make it to the top and yet we tend to do it exactly the same way every time we start something. So we must really pay attention to pace ourselves. It will not be easy but it can be learned and adopted if we decide to.
Make a plan and track your progress
To achieve a goal you have to get some things done. Some of these things are a onetime thing and others have to be repeated periodically. Let say if you are building a house you have to get a permit once and then the task is done but if you are studying for an exam you have to study on a regular basis.
So in order to achieve a goal you have to write down all the tasks that are needed for achieving it. You can put all the tasks on a simple piece of paper and divide them into two groups. First group would be onetime tasks and the other would be repetitive tasks. The onetime tasks are simple to track but for the repetitive I would recommend that you take a calendar and write down all the things you have done in one day. Let say you work out 4 times a week, you would put it in your calendar and write down what kind of workout you have performed and what was the overall progress. If you are training for a marathon, you would put down the time needed for you to finish the track. So, every time that you are running, you will be able to track your progress on a longer period of time.
Why are we doing this? It is a common human fact that we tend to lie to ourselves about how hard working people we actually are. Let’s say, that you have a fixed routine of going to basketball practice 3 times a week, it is understandable that due to other commitments you cannot make it every single time. But if one would ask you, how many times you have missed your practice, you would probably say a number much smaller than the actual number you have missed your practice. The reason is that we tend to exaggerate about our achievements, and then we start to believe ourselves how hard working we really are. The paper does not lie, so it is essential to take notes about everything you are doing, even the things you might think that are not that important.
Focus, focus, focus
There are a lot of good starters among us, but there are only a few good finishers, and that is the big difference between success and failure. None of the big things happened overnight and you have to realize, that for everything that will make an impact on your life, you will have to put all your hard work and sweat into it. And with this I mean a longer period of time, not just one week. It may take a few months or even years to achieve your goal. I would say that the most important skill to get things done is; to be focused and to be persistent, even though your work does not give you the results that you have hoped for right away. Remember, you have to stick to your plan, be persistent, keep your focus, and that will distinguish you from the rest.
Every journey starts with small steps
For everything you want to achieve, you have to make all the steps on the path – and that’s how you will achieve your goal. There are no shortcuts that you can make. But, very important thing to remember – your goals have to be achievable. It is not wrong or bad to wish to have a million dollars; it is even good to have big dreams. All the big men in history had big ideas and big dreams, so it’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to make a plan how to get there. If you earn let say 50.000$ per year it’s not that easy to save a million. You have to decide, how much do you want to save in one year, and then see how long will it take you to get to that million. Moreover, this calculation will tell you, how much you have to earn to save that amount. If the amount you earn, does not allow you to save the amount you have set for yourself, you have to make some changes about that. I cannot tell you, that you have to earn more money. It is you, who will have to figure that out for yourself. But nevertheless, I can tell you this much, if you make a good plan and really stick to it, you are already on a good way to achieve your goals.
You really have to pay attention to all the small things in the big picture and systematically execute each and every one of them. As I already said there are no shortcuts to success.
Set yourself achievable goals
Some people are motivated by stretch goals, but if you are the sort of person who would take the instruction to “reach for the stars” literally and start planning your trip to NASA, perhaps a more realistic goal is in order. Also, remember; don’t try to eat the whole elephant in one gulp. Break the project or challenge down into chewable bite sized pieces. If you don’t know how much time a task will take, than you should divide it further into smaller tasks which you can understand and manage easily.
The 80 / 20 rule
The main idea in the 80 / 20 rule is that you can make 80% of the job by doing 20 % of work. It means that if you have 10 tasks, then there is a high chance that only two of those tasks stand for the majority of the results we produce. That does not mean that we can forget about other tasks and not doing them – but it just means, that if you can make such an impact with proportionally smaller input, it is really motivational and can drive you to work even better.
I firmly believe that doing something every day consistently is easier in the long run than doing it once in awhile. If you want to be consistent with a new habit, run it every day uninterrupted for a month. Make it an irreplaceable part of your life, not an afterthought you do occasionally.
Consistency works because while continually starting has short-term momentum, it doesn’t build anything. Doing the same thing every day eventually snowballs into tremendous progress because it builds up for a longer period of time.
What’s the best way to be in shape?
Exercise for five years.
What’s the best way to launch an online business?
Practice running one for a decade.
What’s the best approach to enhance your social life?
Put yourself outside your comfort zone, every day, for years.
Set yourself a task you can do every day for a longer period of time. This task should not take too much time in your day, but it should be enough to get you one step further towards achieving your bigger goal.
Don’t Associate With Inconsistent People
Alright, maybe that proscription is a little harsh. But if you do something with a friend or group: running, writing, or socializing, for example, and they are inconsistent, maintaining consistency going to be far harder for you. A sketchy gym partner can drain your ability to keep going.
Of course, the reverse is also true. If you have friends or partners who are also committed to being consistent, they can be an ally. Just pick carefully the people you use as partners in any new pursuit, because if they aren’t serious, you might fall off the wagon because they’re jumping in and out.
It’s good to be both a starter and finisher. But, it’s difficult to be both, so if you have to pick, choose to finish. Choose to show up every day until the job is done. Choose the pursuit that appears more boring on the surface, but has richer rewards in its depth. Choose to stick with a plan even if it isn’t paying out immediately. Choose to be consistent. Choose to be a FINISHER!
Everyone has come up with some strategies and tricks how to get things done. If you have some advices feel free to comment and tell us you point of view.