We give up way too easy. It’s simple to begin a new pursuit or activity, but often, after the fun and excitement wears off, we abandon our efforts and give up.
Perhaps we do this because there are so many things competing for our attention. As soon as we discover something new, we’re captivated by something else that has caught our attention. More likely, when we’re faced with actually doing the work, we quickly find out how committed to we really are… or aren’t.
I’ve struggled with starting new ventures and not following through, usually due to 1 or both of the reasons described above. Now, before I begin a new pursuit, I determine:
- If I has a compelling reason why I want to do it
- If I have the commitment, as well as the time, to daily do the work required to achieve success
I’ve decided that I must have a compelling reason; a compelling “Why”. A reason why I want this? Without a good answer to that question, it’s too easy to quit before starting or when things start to get tough. So, without a compelling “Why”, I move on to something else.
Once I’ve decided to start, I gauge my commitment by thinking of the acrostic FOCUS:
This reminds me that it is not about starting new things, but about following through on those things I’ve started until successful. I find that if I don’t adopt this mindset, I’ll often start a bunch of new ventures but achieve success in few, if any.
So what about you? Do you tend to start ventures and fail to complete them? It could be you started without a compelling “Why” or even the commitment required to be successful. If that’s the case, start being aware of why you’re doing something and whether you’re committed to seeing it through to success. If you are, GREAT! It’s time to get started. If not, that’s great too. Just keep looking for something where you have both a compelling “Why” and the commitment. Then when you find it, dive in and give it your best.
If you’re facing obstacles in the pursuit of a worthy goal, congratulations! That’s normal. What’s not normal is pushing through the obstacles with creative solutions. Many people simply give up when obstacles occur and cease their pursuit, settling for what the way things have always been.
When we face obstacles, it feels like a fork in the road where we can make one of two choices:
- Get creative and adjust our approach.
- Return to the status quo.
If you’re pursuing a goal, it’s probably because you’re tired of the status quo. Therefore this choice should be pretty easy. It’s time to get creative.
So what are some things we can do to spark creativity, so that we can push through obstacles and challenges? Here are 3 suggestions:
- Come up with 10 ideas to a problem every day. This comes from James Altucher on the Ask Altucher podcast, where he says coming up with 10 ideas a day will help you “flex your Idea Muscle” and cause you to become better at generating ideas becoming more creative.
- Ask for ideas from others. Don’t critique their ideas or say why they won’t work. Rather use them as building blocks for new ideas that can lead to creative solutions.
- Read or listen to books, blogs, or podcast that talk about creativity or how people solved problems.
One more suggestion to become more creative in the face of obstacles is to remember why you’re in pursuit of your goal in the first place. Think about what motivated you to get started, and specifically what you’ll give up if you do indeed give up on this pursuit! Then ask yourself, “Am I fine with going back to the way things have always been?” For me, the answer is always “No. I wouldn’t be fine with that.” This answer provides me with the direction and motivation I need to press on and move ahead.
No matter what you’re pursuing, the probability that you’ll face obstacles is high. Be aware of the certainty of obstacles, when you begin your next goal. Doing so will enable you to think creatively from the outset about how to will overcome these obstacles when they arrive.
Sometimes I get stuck. Occasionally, I’ll have a goal I’m working toward, but then I find myself getting stalled out and not making minimal to zero progress for a few days or even weeks. It’s frustrating! What I’ve discovered recently is that there is an actual force that keeps us from moving forward. That force is called resistance.
Resistance is anything that distracts us and takes our mind and effort away from moving toward our goals. Steven Pressfield field wrote a great book about resistance titled Do the Work. I read this book last week and it was eye-opening to see the role resistance plays in my own life. The biggest take-away from this book was to be aware of when resistance is blocking my efforts. When I’m aware of the presence of resistance, I can recognize it for what it is and begin to take steps to push through.
Pushing through resistance is actually fun, as well as motivating, because when I do, it feels like I’m making real progress toward my goals. The following are some ways you can push through resistance:
- See the big picture. Know where it is that you want your goals to take you and have a clear picture of what that looks like.
- Know why you want to achieve your goal. Are you frustrated by your current situation, or feel like you need to be doing something better suited to how you are geared? Whatever the reason, be mindful of it. Always know the why behind the goal.
- Understand the cost of not taking action. Know that nothing will change until you cause something to happen. No action = no result! Are you OK if nothing changes?
- Determine what steps you can take today. It doesn’t have to be a large step. Even a small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction.
- Just do something! Commit to taking action every day, whether you feel like it or not.
- Be motivated by the progress. After you’ve strung a few days of successful progress together, look back to see how far you’ve come. Be motivated by the progress and commit that you will not break the chain of daily progress. You are not required to do everything in a single day, just plan on doing something every day.
It’s now time to punch resistance in the face with clear vision and by taking action on a continual daily basis. What are you waiting for? All that separates you from your goal is a thin veil of resistance. Start punching through today.
I like having a plan. Whether it’s for a project, an event, or for attaining goals for the year, a plan provides a course of action to get from where I am to where I want to go. However, in my experience, I’ve realized that even the best plans often need to be adjusted not long after they’ve been started.
That often happens to me with projects at work and events and goals at home. A plan gets created and as soon as it gets started, some change or unexpected piece of information comes to light which causes an alteration to the plan. It’s the nature of getting from Point A to Pont B in any endeavor. Unexpected items come up and adjustments need to be made to the original plan in order to continue moving forward.
I used to get really frustrated when this occurred. It wasn’t until after I realized that change and the unexpected were normal parts of executing a plan that I started becoming less frustrated when adjustment were needed. Now, when the unexpected comes up, requiring a change to the original plan, it feels normal. This perspective has allowed me to focus on what adjustment needs to be made rather than being stalled out because I’m too frustrated and focused on the fact that everything didn’t’ go according to plan.
What project, goal, or event do you have coming up that could benefit from a plan? Whatever it is, create a plan that will take you from where you are to where you want to go, and get started, with the realization that you’ll need to make adjustments along the way. Knowing this will keep you from getting flustered when plans change and also cause you to experience greater achievement and growth as a result.
Recently, I joined an online auditioning site for voice over (VO) talent. The site provides a way to bring VO talent together with clients needing VO services. Before joining this site I spent very little time actually practicing my VO skills, since I was primarily focused on where to find clients. As a result, my VO skills didn’t improve as much as I would have liked.
Immediately after joining the site, I created a system for myself where I audition for a certain number of VO gigs per day, every day. It’s not a large number of gigs. It’s actually on the small side. However, one thing I’ve been surprised by is how much my reads have improved after such a short time of consistently following my system.
The act of daily auditioning, which equates to practice, has started to compound. It’s this compounding effect of relatively small numbers done consistently over time that will yield significant results. This principle is true for anyone, whether you’re seeking to improve your VO skills, lose weight and get in shape, start a business, or become a better parent, spouse, or friend. Never underestimate the power of small effort consistently applied over time. It’s an often overlooked strategy.
Are there areas in your life where you could stand to make progress, but perhaps feel you can’t commit large amounts of time to commit to it? Decide on a small amount of time, or other measure of output, that you can commit to working toward your objective on a daily basis, and get started today. Don’t worry about how small your efforts are, or how big your objective is. Just focus on causing a consistent effort. You’ll be amazed at the progress you make in 1, 6, or 12 months and beyond.
Sometimes all that’s needed is an idea, even if it’s a bad one.
Have you ever been I a group where a decision needs to be made, but no ideas or suggestions are coming? I have! (In fact, I was in one such meeting less than 2 hours prior to writing this blog.) These gatherings can be frustrating because the focus of the group seems be on the problem versus finding a solution.
Sometimes I find that what’s needed most in this scenario is an idea, any idea, just to cause people to start thinking and narrowing down the discussion toward a decision. Throwing out an idea, be it good, bad, or ugly, gets the conversation off of the problem, and focuses it on a solution.
Say you throw out a bad idea to solve the problem at hand and no one in the group likes it. Great! The group’s negative reaction to the idea is the spark that begins the conversation toward a better idea, and ultimately a solution and course of action.
Don’t worry about looking dumb or foolish. Instead, focus on starting the conversation and navigating discussion toward a solution. Specifically, ask others what they think of the idea or what they don’t like about it or how they would change it. Use their ideas to build on the initial bad idea. Instead of trying to be the one that comes up with all the great ideas, focus on being the one that can take input from the group and orchestrate solutions by leveraging the knowledge and wisdom of its members.
Look for opportunities this week to throw out initial ideas and then help others to shape and build them into a viable solution to the problem at hand. You’ll become a valuable contributor to your team and a person of action; a person who causes something to happen.
“We become what we think about.”
~ Earl Nightingale
“We move in the direction of our dominant thoughts.”
~ Hundreds of philosophers, scholars, and leaders
Our thoughts chart the course that our actions follow. As you’re pursuing your goals and dreams, remember to regularly take inventory of your thoughts and ask yourself:
- Are my thoughts helping me or hurting me in the pursuit of my goals?
- What do I need to start thinking about?
- What do I need to stop thinking about?
One of the biggest barriers holding us back from what we want in life is often our own thinking. Begin assessing the quality of your thinking and determine what your thoughts are causing to happen in your life. Then make any necessary changes to align your thinking with the goals and dreams you have for your life.
All change first begins as a thought, and your thinking is the greatest force you have for achieving the goals, relationships, and life you desire.
Make sure your thinking is taking you where you want to go.