Do Something!

These two words have become my mantra. It all began when I was talking to my friend about my project. I had told her that I finally found shirts that I like and that I had a design that I like. She was happy for me. I felt that project was progressing quickly and she thought that soon I would have my shirts ready. The following week, I spoke with her again and updated her on the project: I had rejected the design and was looking for another one. She was disappointed but also happy that I felt that the project was on a better road. The next time that I talked with her, I reported that I had decided that the first design was good and that I was actually going to use that design. She then stopped me and “Will you just ‘do something?’”

Her question (or rather, statement) actually made me stop talking.

Then I got defensive. “I AM doing something!” I responded. My thought was that she just doesn’t understand that this is hard work,; there are decisions to be made.

Then I started to think about her “like-Nike” question/statement. I realized that she was right: I wasn’t actually DOING anything. I was busy, sure. But I wasn’t really DOING anything. Unless you think that running in circles is doing something. I don’t.

She was right. I wasn’t doing anything. Not really.

It was a difficult thing to accept. But it opened the door to start doing something. Things have been different ever since that eye-opening discussion.

I started to “do something!” And everything changed from that day.

Then I started recognizing other people who were not doing anything but thought that they were.

Here are a few examples:

  • I spoke with someone who is opening a blog on health spas. Great idea! He is planning to go to a spa then he will post his experience on his blog. Sounds like a great plan, right? Well, I know that this person has gone to many spas (one was even in the city of Spa in Belgium!) He has gone to spas in Hawaii and California and places along the east coast of the U.S. But he has never actually written, recorded or filmed anything about spas! He needs to do something.
  • I know a person who wants to open an online business. (I won’t mention the products that she wants to sell.) She is constantly taking classes about opening an online business, writing classes and marketing classes. Sounds responsible, right? Well, I know that this person has owned a successful business for many years before shutting it down. And she holds a masters degree. But she does not want to open her online business until she has taken and successfully completed all these courses—and she continues to add every week. She just finished a book that says “you don’t learn until you launch.” But she refuses to launch until she has finished her “education.” She needs to do something.
  • I spoke with someone who wants to use Instagram to promote her photography business and to connect with other photographers. The problem is that she doesn’t know how to use Instagram. She has bought several books about the mobile online social app and she believes that it can be useful to her. But she has yet to start using Instagram. She has not even downloaded the app. Every week, she says that she will do it. Every week, she comes up with reasons why she has not done. She needs to do something.

Do you see yourself in any of these stories? Or do you have a story of your own?

I am not criticizing these people in any way. In fact, I was one of them until the eye-opening talk that I had with an honest friend. I am only pointing out that everyone wants to “do something” and they have plans to “do something” but most don’t actually do the “something” that they are constantly talking about. And that I believe they really want to do.

Don’t worry. There are proven ways to “do something” . Keep reading. They are not difficult but they take commitment.

How to Do Something

I know that this sounds obvious. Perhaps you think that you actually are doing something. (I thought that I was.) The people in the above stories thought that they were doing something. I thought that they were doing something. Doing something can be tricky; the mind can trick a person into believing that they are doing something.

Steps to help you to “do something”:

Set Goals.

This is a time-tested activity that gives you the big picture. People often don’t realize that they are not doing something because they don’t know where they are headed. So, they don’t know that they are not getting there. Setting goals will help to identify when a person is not making progress—and when they ARE making progress. A long-term goal gives the big overall picture (e.g., set up a health spa blog) and short-term goals give the smaller view (e.g., setup Instagram on the phone). Goals also give accountability. They also help keep the vision in sight.

Make a list.

I am a huge fan of making lists! I make a list when I’m travelling, cleaning, shopping and working. For my business, I make a weekly list. The list is based on my long- and short-term goals. I place all the tasks that I need to accomplish my goals on the list. Lists also help to jumpstart the work. No thinking. No indecisiveness. No excuses (see below). My favorite list is my “first two” list. I make this list every evening before going to bed. Then I know the “first two” things that I will do when I sit down to work in the morning. I don’t have to think about what I will do; I already know exactly what I will start with. Once my work gets started, I quickly gain momentum and accomplish a lot. Another great thing that I’ve discovered about having a list is that I get huge satisfaction when I can cross something off my list. It is a great feeling! And it is evidence that you are actually doing something.

Stop making excuses.

Excuses are the enemy of productivity and accomplishment. They are roadblocks to success. Excuses can sound and feel so real. Like in the above example, taking classes about running an online business sounds like a legitimate and even responsible thing to do. And it is. But when classes become excessive and constant and they prevent you from accomplishing your goals, then they have become an excuse. Think about whether other activities that interfere with accomplishing your goals are actually an excuse that prevent you from doing something. This requires introspection and honesty. (Believe me, I know!) These are hard things to do. But they will help you to know when you are “excusing” yourself from doing something. Another exercise: Have a conversation with an empty chair in which you list all the activities that are preventing the person from doing something. Tell the person (yourself) in that empty chari how you are making excuses that are preventing you from doing something.

Make a commitment every day.

Commit that you will accomplish one task every day. It can be a small task. In fact, you should start with small tasks in the beginning. These are tasks that take less than an hour. Commit to accomplishing a small, hour-or-less task EVERY DAY. It adds up. This type of cumulative effort will add up to the accomplishment of big tasks then huge tasks. One reason that people make excuses or don’t do anything is that the task looks so big that it feels unreachable or unattainable. So, keep it small. Keep it at a level that feels doable. And keep doing it every day.

Be Smart.

Think of your goals, lists and tasks. It can be hard to decide on a goal, determine which tasks need to be done and what to write on a list. I get it. This is not easy stuff. But there is a SMART way to accomplish these important steps. It is called SMART. What is SMART? It is a way to set goals, write lists and decide on tasks.

S = specific

M = measurable

A = achievable

R = realistic

T = time limited

Make sure that your long- and short-term goals; the items on your list and the tasks that you assign to yourself meet these criteria. More information on SMART or a SMART Worksheet.

These are time-tested steps that you can take to help you to “do something.” They will help you to stop making excuses. And, interestingly, your work will flow with ease. Your day will start with less stress and your work will flow more clarity and confidence. You will start to accomplish your goals.

You will do something.

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    […] In an essay on fear and risk, New York Times columnist, Mary Schmich, noted, “Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out.” Extraverts will step on the podium and grab the microphone. Introverts also need to grab that mic and start wowing the crowd! Sometimes, you just need to do something. […]

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