Image source : Preeti Gopal
The reason you are not taking consistent action towards your goal is because achieving the goal is not a MUST for you. You have not made it a must.
Whether you get there or whether you don’t, makes no real difference to you. Nothing at stake there.
Think about it. In your corporate job, on go-live date, you deliver. The product may be buggy, but you deliver. In school, on exam day, you submit your answers. Your grades may have been crappy, but you showed up on the day of the exam. Prepared or not, ready or not, you show up.
Why ? Because you have to. Your job, your reputation, your credibility, your pay, your future are on the line.
Right now, what’s on the line? What skin do you have in the game ? Why would you even bother showing up, consistently, every day ?
And I get it. This goal you are pursuing, is really not a must. It is something you would like. Perhaps even love. You may even feel passionately about it. But its not a must. And so you have not committed to it.
Making any change stick is hard. For all of us. So unless it is a must, why would be we bother doing all the hard work ?
It was a game changer moment for me at his live 5 day event in London, when I heard Tony Robbins say this :
“In order to create change, you must do two things: raise your standards, and turn your “shoulds” into “MUSTS.”
Is the goal you are pursuing important to you ? No ? Then let it go. Don’t waste any more time and energy on it. Yes ? Then make achieving it a must. How ?
Follow below steps (in that order) :
1) Define the specific outcome you are going to create. Decide the ‘ship on/go live/launch/publish date. Now bring that date closer by half that time.
2) Decide why its your must. Why it matters to you to achieve it. Your big WHY.
3) Commit publicly to delivering the outcome on that date. (eg. Announce to a group of people outside of family and friends- an event, a workshop, promise to deliver/ship/publish it.
4) Get down to doing the work - prepare, create, organize, whatever it takes.(Here is where you need a system of habits and practices to ensure you keep doing the work. Will be too long to include in detail in this article.Further below some pointers.)
Now you will do the work, even when you don’t feel like it . Now you will get over the excuses, the procrastination, the distractions. After all you’ve already committed. You’ve put yourself on the line. Now you have to deliver. And now you will. Its scary, but it works.
Like a GPS, when all your efforts and energy are directed towards an accurate destination/outcome that matters, your path there is more purposeful, focused and will get you there. Else you are going to drift, scatter, get distracted, lost. No amount of discipline, willpower, hacks, habits are likely to get you there.
Here’s some ideas to keep you on track while doing the work (Elaborating on these would make this post way too long) :
Chuck down the big goal into smaller doable tasks. Decide a deliverable to every task.
Commit to due dates. Whatever time you give yourself to complete the tasks, now cut that time by half. (Refer Parkinson’s law : Work expands to fill the time available to get it done). "To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."- Leonard Bernstein.
Schedule it in your calendar. The ‘complete on’ date. And also the dates and time you are going to spend creating the outcome. If its not in your calendar, its only a wish, not a goal.
Create environment that makes helps you do your best work : Choose the times you work best. Remove distractions (phone on silent, no social media, TV, Netflix, random phone calls)
Get your people on board : Let your family know what you are committed to creating. Set their expectations about how when you will be working and ask not to be disturbed.
Take action every day. Even small steps. Progress is more important than the magnitude of the work done. (Refer Atomic Habits by James Clear)
Before you start a task, give yourself a specific time to do it. Eg Pomodoro technique : Put an alarm. Work for 25 minutes, break for 5, work for 25 mins break for 5
Finish what you start. Even the smallest of tasks. Then get on to the next task. Completing something gives us a dopamine hit. And dopamine motivates you. Use it to build momentum.
Accept that most times you will not feel like doing the work. That's ok. And irrelevant. Count down 5-4-3-2-1 and get to it anyway (Refer Mel Robbins 54321 rule).
Connect with your vision of who you want to be, what you want, your goals and your big Why, every single day. Write it .Read it out loud. Share it with people. Visualize yourself doing it.
Acknowledge your wins and progress. Upgrade your identity as you go.
And ultimately I have learned over the years, there’s no alternative to this :
Show up. Show up again. Then again. Keeping showing up. Every single day.