This is the second of a two-part series on getting it done. In part one, we explored our baggage and took a hard look at our list of “To-Dos.” The key takeaway was simply this: It is not enough to want it. First, you have to decide whether it is a priority. If it’s not a priority, put it on the list for a future date and move on.
What I challenge my clients to do is to take all their wants and to-dos and write them down. We have to start getting very serious about the things that we ask ourselves and the things that we tell ourselves we want to accomplish in his life. Many times the things that we put on this to-do list and allow to pile on the pressure are things that we don’t really want. Pipe dreams. Things that we really aren’t committed to doing but we are really good at telling ourselves we need to do. We have to do. We should do. None of this is true.
When we start getting really honest with ourselves about the bag of burdens that we carry, and we eliminate the pipe dreams, we are left with what is really important at this moment — our priorities.
Now, the second step is to decide to either develop a plan (or stop carrying that junk around).
We have to develop a plan. This is what distinguishes people who accomplish everything we want from those who spend their lives carrying around a long list of to-do’s and dreams.
It’s not difficult to accomplish things in life; the only difficulty is following through on your commitments to yourself.
You must first sit down and get very clear about what you want, develop a plan to get there, and follow through. For me, most of my planning requires me to sit down and focus on my calendar and what is on my plate in any given week. The only thing that makes it on to my calendar are priority items. Everything else is up for debate and the whims of my fancies once everything else is accomplished. I might decide during an afternoon where I have two hours of free, unallocated time to seriously consider where to hang that chandelier. But that’s for me to decide; that’s for me to determine how I want to use that free time and whether or not I want to look at any of my other low-hanging wants in those moments.
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My to-do list is not something that I need to carry around and remind myself of every day to use as a sword against myself. Instead, my calendar reflects my priorities. If I want to go to the gym two times a week, the only thing I have to do is put it on my calendar and allocate the time of preparation beforehand to ensure that I can accomplish it. I anticipate the obstacles. I know that my brain is going to tell me that my bed is so cozy, my muscles are sore from the last workout, or I didn’t sleep that well last night.
My brain is going to offer me all sorts of reasons why I can’t do this.
In these situations, time can also be a barrier. I have three dogs and oftentimes one of them wants to go outside and then the other one will want to go out and then suddenly they want to be fed at 6:30 in the morning rather than waiting for me to get home and feed them after the gym. Never mind the fact that I can never figure out what to wear to the gym and that constant agony of “I have nothing to wear today!” drags on the entire process in the morning making me feel hopeless before I even get out the door.
I know these obstacles will come I know these challenges will happen. So I anticipate them and I strategize around them. I plan my workout clothes the night before I decide whether I am going to feed the dogs before I leave or whether I will feed them when I get home and I stick to that decision. If I decide the dogs need to go out before I leave, it is the first thing I do when I get up before I start getting ready to go to the gym. I have to know the things that are going to pop up to try and keep me stuck. This is not complicated. This is not rocket science.
We identify obstacles to our goals and we strategize around them. We expect the worst so that we can be at our best.
What does that look like? All it looks like is deciding how you’re going to get it done and deciding what might keep you from acting. From there, we can strategize how to guarantee the accomplishment and ensure that we are in the best possible position to accomplish that task and check it off on our to-do list. We can then give ourselves a pat on the back and consider it a job well done.
When we allow our days to operate on a whim out of control and without planning, it makes it more difficult for us to tackle the things that we really do want to accomplish in our life.
It might seem overly regimented and stringent to put all these things on your calendar and live by that. But it’s actually freedom. I know that everything I want to accomplish in my life I will accomplish and I don’t have to worry, or stress, or stew about it. I just have to show up. I have it on my calendar. I have a plan. I have a strategy. I just have to do what it tells me and not question it. That’s all it takes. My days are more efficient, and my focus is clearer when my head is no longer jumbled with all of the things that I want to do and all of the shoulds bouncing around making me feel terrible.
For any day, I know exactly what I will accomplish, what I have accomplished, and what I can do next.
That is what it means to do more than just “want” it, because wanting it is simply not enough.
In order to transform our life from a list of dreams to a list of accomplishments, all we have to do is sit down, plan, strategize, then show up. From there they only this you have to do is honor yourself and honor your commitments.