Here’s an example from my life. I’ve been telling myself that I need to clean my office and get everything organized. It’s a huge task because I have let things go for a long time. I’ve done
major remodeling which has caused stuff to be moved around and piled wherever it was convenient to put it at the time.
It’s to the point where I need to clear, clean and organize to help me to be able to think straight. What I could do is say “hold all calls, I’m going to take care of this today.” Sounds like a great plan, correct? Well, not for me, I just don’t work that way. My mind doesn’t think that way.
Knowing how your mind works is a huge key to success.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed and trying to clean my office in one day, I knew I had to start small. So, for me, step one was preparing to clean. That might sound crazy to some people, but not me.
The idea of preparation makes the task easier for me.
For example, let’s say you want to lose weight but can’t because you think you need a Peloton bike. That’s preparation, you’re doing your research and, while it’s good to do the preparation, it’s still a bunch of crap. While it’s technically preparation, it’s also sabotage. You really don’t need an expensive Peloton in order to lose weight. It’s great to do the preparation research, but don’t let that foster sabotage.
One process of preparing is psyching yourself up. Some people need to get psyched up and get excited about getting things done, especially those things you really don’t want to do. You see this a lot in sports as they are pounding each other on the shoulder as they run out on to the field. It gets their blood flowing.
This works for some people but not for me. What I do is very similar but instead of the physical and vocal psyching myself up, I mentally prepare myself.
I make a list of what I need to do. I’m not talking about getting out index cards or opening some fancy app. At this stage it can be just a mental list of what needs to be done to do the task. We are getting our mind on board and getting rid of all the excuses as we go over the list of tools needed, the list of steps that need to be taken and the order they need to be taken in.
How long should this step take? That depends on you and also on the job you’re trying to do. For some it could be a matter of minutes; for others it could take hours or even days.
No matter what you’re doing, this initial preparation step needs to be taken. It’s like a warm-up before strenuous exercise. This mental preparation/warm-up is the very first step.
Action Isn’t Optional
The second step that needs to be taken is also simple. We have to take action. Any type of action is okay. It can be big or small… the important step is that action is taken… do something/ anything related to what you wish to accomplish.
The first action I took, once I was mentally prepared to clean my office was to go downstairs, find the trash bags, bring them upstairs, and replace the full trash bags from my garbage and recycling cans. Now I had a place to throw stuff as I started to clean.
Even though it was a very simple action, it was what I needed to get started with the cleaning process. Take a look at what you’re trying to accomplish and decide what simple step you can take to get you started.
The reason I say this as we go through the process is because we are building momentum. We can’t just jump in and get started full blast…we need to build up and gain that momentum.
I know that some of you reading this are saying, “I don’t need momentum. I can just jump out of bed and do anything.” Congratulations, that’s great! But I’m not like that. And I’m sure the majority of people reading this article are not like that.
I wake up slowly. I lay there for a while; I then open one eye and look at the ceiling, then open the other eye, then maybe roll over and pick up my iPad and check the news, etc. I ease my way into the morning.
Most of us need to go through the preparing stage in order to gain momentum. If you’ve been putting off starting a project, start by getting prepared. Mentally gather the tools you need. Think about what needs to be done first, second, third, etc. At this step, please don’t think past the third stage or it will get overwhelming.
Right now, you need to take some kind of action to gain that momentum. And remember, you can only spend a limited amount of time preparing, then you need to take action.
This immediate result is the reward for the action you’ve taken.
We’ve grown up in a world of instant food, instant entertain- ment, etc. We’ve been trained to expect instant gratification— the immediate results are that instant gratification fix. We expect to see results when we exert effort.