Last week, I wrote about the need to get the shoulds out of our lives — referring to the “should do” items that weigh us down because we keep thinking about them… but not doing them! As a remedy, I said we need to either delete them, file them away for another day, or get them done.
Just a few minutes ago, actually, I avoided putting another “should do” on my list. I got an email from a friend with a great idea, and my immediate thought was, “Yeah, I should do that!” But I know I couldn’t get to it right now, and I know it’s not something I really need to do right now, so I just filed the email away… and I’ll tackle that project down the road if I decide it’s important.
But what about the should dos you keep thinking about that are important? I’m talking about those things — tasks or projects or endeavors — that are standing between you and the life or work or business that you dream about. Those are should dos that need to become must dos…
And that’s what I’d like to help you with this week.
Think about your own life right now. What is one thing that keeps calling to you — that you know, if you did it, would have a dramatic impact on your life? Is it a training program you need to go through in order to be eligible for a promotion at work? Is it some research you need to do before you can start your own business? Or is it hiring a staff member or outsourcing some work in your current business? Maybe it’s something personal like losing weight. Or communicating better in your marriage.
Identify that “thing” in your life that you feel is very important and think about it as we continue here, because I’m going to share five simple steps that have helped me on my own journey to create the life, work and business of my dreams by getting rid of should dos and focusing on must dos:
1. Ask yourself — and answer — why.
Why is it that you want to do this thing (whatever it is)? Why do you feel that you should do it? Dig deep here and think about your passion and purpose in life and about why this really matters to you. Is there something really great you’ll experience when you get to the other side of this “should do”? Some severe pain that will be alleviated?
If you want to lose weight, for example, it’s surely not just to see the number change on the scale. There’s something more meaningful behind it. Is it for your health? Is it for your self-esteem? What is really driving this desire? Until you’re clear about this, you’ll keep saying, “I should ______.” (And it’s perfectly acceptable to ask this question and come to the conclusion that, “You know what, this really doesn’t matter that much to me.” Then move on!)
But if you dig deep and find that meaningful connection to this thing — and if you let yourself really feel what you’ll experience on the other side of it — you’ll find the fuel to get this “should do” done.
2. Once you connect with what this “should do” means to you and why you must do it, then make a decision and commit to yourself, “I must do this. I will do this. Now.”
Napoleon Hill wrote in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich, that “Accurate analysis of over 25,000 men and women who had experienced failure disclosed the fact that lack of decision was near the head of the list of the 30 major causes of failure.”
Until you make the decision, you’ve still got a “should do” on your hands. You are the only one who can decide that you’re going to move forward and make this happen.
3. Set aside time and make a plan to do this thing.
Put it on your schedule. Make it a priority. Don’t let it keep getting pushed to the bottom of the list. Don’t let circumstances keep getting in the way.
4. Take the first step… and then the next step… and then the next…
At this point, it’s possible to get psyched up to the point that you’re jumping up and down, pumping your fist, saying “I’m going to do this! I’m going to do this!” You feel like you can make everything happen right now! Then you quickly realize that you can’t get from point A to point B in just one leap… and that’s a slippery slope right into frustration and depression and ultimately giving up.
Most likely, it’s going to take several steps to get to the finish line with this thing… baby steps. So you have to pace yourself.
The theme here is “This Moment Matters,” remember? So here you are in this moment. What one step toward your goal can you take in this moment? Don’t worry if you’re moving a millimeter, an inch or a foot… just move.
If it’s that training program we talked about, enroll now. If it’s a new exercise routine, don’t try to jump right in and do an hour a day — start with 10 minutes, or even five. If it’s improving your communication skills, how about starting with a smile?
5. Persist until you get there.
Second to starting, this is the hardest of the five steps. Lots of people start. Few finish.
As I looked back over my life, I realized that this is something that plagued me — even going back to childhood… I quit on basketball. I quit on soccer. I quit on karate. Quitting becomes a habit, and you have to break it… and replace it with persistence.
To quote Napoleon Hill again, “There is no substitute for persistence. The persistent person discovers that ‘Old Man Failure’ finally becomes tired and goes away. Failure cannot cope with persistence.”
So how do you persist? Good news — you already know! When you’re tempted to quit, go back through the process we just outlined.
Revisit step one and remind yourself why you’re doing this. Let yourself feel what you’ll experience when you accomplish it.
Then remind yourself of the commitment you made… to yourself.
Then get back to your schedule or plan.
And “win” this moment by taking one more baby step.
This is the formula for persistence… and ultimately, success.
So are you ready to enter the “No Should Zone”?
Which of your should dos are you going to escalate to a must do now?
Let me know how I can help you along the way, and I’ll look forward to your victory report.