Most people know they should do in every area of their lives; they know they should exercise more, quit smoking, save money for retirement, read a book to improve themselves, donate to charity, say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” to a friend or family member, and have the courage to ask for what they want in life. However, what I’ve discovered in my journey (as I’m sure you have as well) is that even though people know what they should do… they just aren’t doing it!
What are you putting off right now in your life that you KNOW you should do? My challenge to you this month is to select one thing that you know you should do, but aren’t, and get busy with making it happen. Benjamin Franklin famously noted that “Well done is better than well said.” Nothing changes in our lives until we do.
In the excellent book Switch, the authors discuss a common problem people face: keeping the home tidy. The main obstacle for most people is that there is so much to do that we get overwhelmed. The authors share an interesting technique called the “5 Minute Room Makeover”. The idea is simple: you resolve that for exactly five minutes, you will tidy as much as you can… and then you’re done with it! This way, you aren’t overwhelmed with how large the task is, and you end getting something done. You’ve shrunk the goal to a baby step that is easily manageable.
Try to diagnose what is holding you back. In attempting to write my book, “Living an Exceptional Life”, I was perplexed that I was procrastinating. Here I was, already having written two other books as a ghost author, and yet still unable to complete my own! I had started and stopped several times. By 2008, I had reached a threshold point of frustration with myself. I knew how to write, and I knew what to write… and yet I still wasn’t writing.
I soon realized that it was neither laziness nor feeling overwhelmed; I was suffering from “perfectionism paralysis”. I was erroneously expecting the quality of my first book to be a New York Times bestselling book, and when each draft didn’t measure up I discarded it and started again!
Once I realized my problem, I resolved that I would deliver the finished book as a Christmas present to my immediate friends and family on Christmas day, 2008. Now that was an immovable deadline! In order to hit the goal, I had to send the manuscript to the publisher on November 4th, 2008. Instantly, I was motivated to get writing. I had resolved that whatever condition the book was in, it was getting emailed on time! Whether it had spelling mistakes, run-on sentences or even entire sections missing, off it would go! My perfectionism now served to motivate me to get typing!
Make a decision to take action on the thing you’ve been putting off. I invite you to take a baby step and email me your goal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes, the smallest amount of public accountability is all it takes to close the gap between knowing and doing!