Many people get stuck. Their minds are full of plans and projects, but those plans and projects stay in the realms of imagination. What makes the difference between those who dream, and those who do?
Lack of confidence is a major arrester of action. This is especially true of introverts, who may lack the instinct to engage socially. Day after day can go by without feeling able to push the dream into reality. In fact, getting closer to action often brings fear. Depending on personality, there are a couple of important techniques for counteracting this.
- The first is to use social commitments and networking – in other words, join yourself with others who are engaged in similar pursuits. This works best with those who have a moderate level of sociability in their character.
- The second is to use timetabling and monitoring – in other words, list, diarise, and regularly monitor your results. This works best with those who have a moderate level of conscientiousness in their character.
Old-fashioned as it sounds, habit patterns make a huge difference to effectiveness. Everyone has the same task – to get up at a reasonable time, to eat three nutritious meals, and then to go to bed. In between those meals, everyone again has the same task – to find a routine whereby things get done. If you have never found a way of living a day which enables this to happen, then don’t be surprised if you get nothing done. In order to generate effective habits:
- Use an incremental approach. Treat every day as a test day, learn what worked and what didn’t, and then change what didn’t work. Most people who don’t develop good routines, lack this ability to learn and make continuous changes.
- Build an environment that supports your chosen routines. This includes your sleeping space, your eating space, your cooking space, your working space, your leisure space, and your equipment (clock, phone, car, diary, clothes). It sounds basic, but many people are prevented from being effective, simply through not being able to attend to improving accommodation and equipment. If your environment is not maintained, then you will spend most of your life firefighting and emergency mending.
You only have one life, and each day only has so many hours in it. Many humans are constantly surprised at how the days run away with them, without their cherished projects getting done. Hard as it is, this boils down to active choices. If you are doing one thing, you cannot be doing another. So choose wisely. In order to encourage firmer and wiser choices:
- Bring your projects out into the open, and make them louder than competing demands. The world has billions of people in it, all vying for your attention. You are only one. Therefore, if you have a project, you have to make it very visible to you in your everyday life. Don’t hide it at the back of your mind and expect everyone else to know what you are thinking.
- Make space-creating and simplifying choices. Most people’s lives are too full of competing demands to breathe or move. It takes all day just to fend off the essentials. To be effective, we need to lose the non-essentials in our lives, so that we can focus on what matters.
If you have projects, but don’t seem to be doing them, then these six techniques apply whether you want to be a monk or a chief executive, a parent or a student:
- SOCIALISE – Build a small network of people or groups interested in the same outcome
- MONITOR – Take time to list your priorities, diarise them, and monitor your results
- IMPROVE – Treat every day as a test day – keep what works, and change what doesn’t work – build your perfect day over time
- EQUIP – Improve your living space, and your equipment, so that it matches what you want to do
- SIGNPOST – Make your projects visible to yourself and others
- SIMPLIFY – Make choices which simplify your life, and make space for appropriate action