In the words of Bananarama & Fun Boy Three ‘It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it’.
We are all assigned one life but to create a masterpiece is to walk a path that may be messy at first, but as you become more aware of what matters it should begin to line up with your intentions. A path ultimately defined by you.
Choose one major goal/focus.
Like most people I spent a large part of my life caught up in the paralysis of indecision as to which path to pursue.
My thoughts went like these: maybe further train in Law or become a write or a life or fitness coach or even be a Management consultant. I was a master procrastinator with dreams who was going nowhere fast.
It was not until I decided to select one main goal to the demotion of the others that I was able to make progress. You can have side projects or other passions but vital to prioritise one where your capital efforts will be directed. And what happens is that along the way other secondary avenues will start opening up to you.
When I committed to recruitment as my main career to pursue three years ago, I cut off all other options and pretty much burnt all other bridges. Doing this empowered me to become the sort of person who faces challenges head on because I refuse to give up on my main goal.
Interestingly enough, my experiences as an entrepreneur have given me a unique writing voice, which led me to Medium. In time, I have managed to relight the fire on my other passions — I exercise regularly and occasionally work with friends to help them become fitter (gives me fitness coaching fix).
I also buy and sell clothes online (a side project that requires minimal effort on my side). In the words of John Gorman, I am a ‘multi-hyphenate’ .
Over-analysis stunts action. You can be ambitious, have divergent goals but to make tangible progress, you must choose your main focus.
The greatest achievements do not happen by chance. An athlete does not win a race by accident. They practise, they prepare (mostly in obscurity) and good fortune somehow finds them.
There was a time where I sought experiences in the belief that they would change my life. If I could see Tony Robbins in action or meet Oprah Winfrey then this would change everything. I could finally have that lightbulb moment where my purpose is revealed.
This was until I realised that it is ‘not an experience that changes your life but a process’. An experience triggers an emotion, a feeling or sparks an idea into your mind. This only becomes tangible when you take action within window-frame. Otherwise it will wilt away like a seed deprived of nutrients, water and a fertile soil. Then off you go seeking the next experience.
To be intentional is to put processes in place that are likely to guarantee success.
· Morning ritual- I used to get up and go but that soon wreaked havoc when I started on the entrepreneurial path. So I created a system that best set me up for an effective day. Having toyed with several formulas, my ideal one is currently — read the bible, pray, run (whilst listening to an uplifting speech or song), read (currently Napoleon Hill ‘Think and Grow Rich’), and journal ideas and thoughts. In doing this, I am better able to manage challenges during the day and stay focused. There are several suggestions out there but you have to find a formula that works for you.
· Cold showers- An idea I initially came across in the early stages of running my business in my search for a ritual that will take me out of my comfort zone (warm shower). Now an integral part of my routine especially when I have important meetings or feeling nervous about a presentation or event. Rather than constantly fretting and worrying, I blast on the cold tap. It impacts my thought process: if I can survive something so cold , then I can take on anything that comes my way today. It’s akin to a child wanting to wear his big boy pants on his first day to school. Over time I start to identify myself as the sort of person who: doesn’t run away from difficulties, faces it head on.
I highly recommend ‘The Tools’ by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels which outlines some useful techniques for solving day to day problems.
Define and divide everyone and everything.
You have to create distinction with definition with everything in your life. How you spend your time, the people in it and your thoughts to name a few.
If you leave everything in one bundle then life becomes chaotic. This is the classic case of saying yes to everything and consequently becoming depleted.
When it comes to time, I label every activity under — priority, non-priority, time wasting, productive, fun, rest and learning.
I have learnt the hard way that if I don’t divide and define my time then I simply lose it.
I take a similar approach to people. There are some I only stop by briefly to say hello to, others I can spend a short amount of time with and a selected few I can spend all day with. I do this because the nature and theme of conversations impact thoughts. Also helps to maintain my sanity! Or what’s left of it!
Lastly, there are thoughts I consciously choose not to dwell on because if I did, I could end up falling into deep depression and never leave my house again.
Set time aside to be creative.
‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.’ Marcel Proust
Everything is the same until you change your perspective. You can have two people in a similar situation, one sees obstacle and the other opportunity.
How do you become the former? By taking time to think, be creative, let your mind and thoughts wander into what is possible. I listen to Earl Nightingale’s tapes and he often emphasises the power of our minds, and creativity as largely untapped. Rather than keep convincing myself that I am not creative; I purchased a notebook, which I use to record my ideas daily. Even when I have a problem that seems insurmountable, by putting it on paper and brainstorming I often come up with solutions that I thought were beyond my capacity.
Using your imagination matters, seeing yourself achieve goals in your mind creates an excitement that will motivate you and keep you moving forward.