Most people fail to do anything major because they see it as a big impossible task that needs to be tackled all at once. If you’re trying to climb a mountain, you can come up with dozens of excuses: you’re not feeling up to it, it’s not the right time to start your journey, you only have an hour and it takes days, etc…. I’m as guilty as anyone — I’ve got more unfinished projects than I care to admit. But these things can be all be tackled (even at once) if you have the desire and the focus. And I’ll show you how.
Whether you’re trying to clean a messy house, get in shape, learn a new skill or write a book, just taking that first step can be the hardest. Again, excuses have a funny way of coming at you when you try to start something important. So here’s how to deal with it.
1: Set your expectations accordingly:
It takes more than a few weeks to lose 30 pounds. Despite what some people claim, it’s near impossible write a decent book in a weekend. When you set your goals too aggressively, you set yourself up for frustration and failure. Instead, be reasonable with your expectations. Look at your project and estimate the time needed. If you have an aggressive deadline that you must meet, make room in your schedule to fit in the blocks of time you need.
2: Break it down:
You probably have a lot going on so rather than big chunks of time, you might only have an hour here and there. So take your task and break it into smaller, more manageable pieces. If you’re cleaning your house, break it down room by room (and if the rooms are really messy, break down rooms into sections or zones). That way you can get one piece out of the way, see some actual progress and walk away with a feeling of accomplishment that will motivate you to keep going.
3: Spread it out:
I gave my website its last major update in 2008. It needs a lot of work that requires a significant amount of thinking such as grouping pages, writing copy and changing layouts. I honestly feel drained, no matter how pleased I am with the results, after working on a single page. So I feel the need for my brain to recover before tackling another page. Rather than torture myself and try to tackle the entire site in a week or two, I just try to fix one page a week. If time permits, I can focus on a more complicated page. If not, I can tackle an easy one. Again, planning is key.
4: Five minutes a day:
Exercising is one of those things that people put off due to timing. It’s easy to say that you had a long day at work, you’re too busy, there’s no time, etc…. Why not start with five minutes? Surely you can spend five minutes walking in place (or up and down your stairs), doing crunches or cranking out push-ups. If you do this for a week rather than putting it off, you’ve done 35 minutes of exercise that could burn off a dessert or two. And if five minutes is too much, start with one.
5: Don’t wait for Monday:
Mondays are the craziest day of the week yet it’s the most popular day for starting things. Get started right away. Don’t wait. If it’s Friday and you want to start spending 30 minutes a day writing, do it now. By Monday, you’ll already be 90 minutes into it and you’ll have that momentum to help you deal with excuses such as it being a rough day. In addition to Monday, people wait for the begging of the month, or even the year. The longer you wait, the longer you put off your progress and the more time you have for excuses. Get started and do it now.