The Woman dragged herself to a mirror and looked at herself with a critical eye (an eye much more critical than those around her I can tell you). Out loud she announced “this is as big as I am ever going to be.” She immediately felt foolish, fake and the little voice in her head laughed and whispered “you won’t change, it’s too hard, and besides there’s way too much work to be done.” Just for a minute she contemplated stopping before she even started, but with a deep breath she began.
She knew herself well enough to know that she needed help to stay accountable – so she announced to the world through Facebook and Twitter that she was doing this thing. She knew that if she could not see progress represented in numbers that she would stop so she created a spreadsheet that created a graph of her progress. She knew that if she wasn’t exact in what she did in the beginning that she would never develop the habits needed to continue into a lifestyle, so she was absolutely to-the-letter following the fundamentals with no experimentation at all. She also knew that if she didn’t get involved in a community that she would hide away and fail alone, so she created a Facebook group and invited others to talk about their journey too. Lastly she wanted a reminder of what she had come from, so she took pictures of her on her first day (and every month after that day) and put them where she could see them when she needed to feel good about her progress (because she couldn’t see it without help).
The day came (6 months later) when she was 20kgs lighter than when she started (that’s 44lbs!) and she rejoiced in what she had become. From a standing start with no confidence that she would ever make it, she was now a healthy size again. The woman then said out loud “This is the most unfit I will ever be.” Again she felt weird and fake and the voice inside her immediately started “You have Multiple Sclerosis and you can’t run. You are so unfit you can’t even walk up stairs without puffing. You must be crazy if you think you are going to get ripped.” and again for a moment she almost gave up, but she didn’t. Knowing herself she knew that if she didn’t follow a process to the letter she would run off the rails and into the bushes, so she bought a running program for her iPhone (C25K) and she told all her friends that she was running and she used a tool to track how far she was going and before she knew it she was running longer and longer distances…
The reasons why I have been able to leave my job and work in my own online business are the very same reasons why I have been able to lose 20kg and start running. The process has been 100% exactly the same. These “secrets” apply to every single person out there
The first secret is to know and understand how you tick. You need to be absolutely honest with yourself here, no what you would “like to be” type answers. No answering in a way that will make someone else happy. Go to a quiet place and time and ask yourself
- how do I work best (do I need step-by-step instructions to get started or do I like to jump in and start powering at a goal with no clear idea how i am going to achieve it)
- what consistently trips me up (do I listen to my inner voice too much, do I think about what might go wrong too often, do I spend more time consuming the internet than producing work?)
- what tools/people will help me get me to where I want to go (planning, accountability and coaching)
Starting as a Beginner
When you start ANYTHING you are not as good as you are going to be with practice. The difference between child prodigies and regular children when it comes to playing the piano is not that the prodigy is perfect from day 1 (because they aren’t), it’s that the prodigy will go on to practice hundreds of hours more than than a child that just has 1 hour lessons a week. The prodigy gets to a level of expertise quicker than the child who doesn’t practice at all.
Recognising that you are a beginner and not beating yourself up about it will ensure that you do not burn out or give up because you “aren’t good enough.” It will take time to ramp up to being able to describe yourself as good, and more time again to get to great.
One of the reasons why people will perform boring, mundane tasks for hours on end in video games is that all games have a method of showing progress made. Real life doesn’t have these reminders and so you need to create them manually or find a tool that can do this for you. An example is 750Words.com where the goal is to write, you guessed it, 750 words a day. The site has many cool ways of telling you your progress, and announcing when you had made the daily goal.
Timely feedback is the magic ingredient in coaching. Athletes, musicians and anyone that seeks to better themselves to the level of an expert require feedback to show them what they have done, what they did right, what they could do better, what they did completely wrong and what they need to do next. Seeking mentors/coaches or support while performing a task like setting up your own business will give you clear direction on how to get better rather than doing the same things over and over again. Timely feedback can also be part of the method by which you are held accountable.
I have found that those that have the ability to make the most change in their life through force of will are also the type that are most likely to be able to talk themselves out of doing something. For those people I recommend setting up some form of accountability process. Whether it comes through betting a colleague you will do this thing by X date or agreeing to email a friend your results every Friday at 3pm. Accountability will keep you honest and on track.
I nearly missed this one out because it seems so clear to me that goals are required. Goals need to be defined, realistic and have a time frame attached. They can be written (advisable) and announced to the world (works for me!). Goals have been described as daydreams with a date attached – I prefer to think of them as one half of what is needed to live, not just exist. Get your goals down on paper and start working towards them by being active in the story of your life.
A fabulous tool to set goals and track your progress towards them is Goalscape (I am going to do a separate post about this tool soon).
Lastly, all the tools and secrets in the world will NOT get you further than taking 1 minute of action a day. Action (the second half of living not existing) can start small, after all you are a beginner, and ramp up over time. Keep stretching yourself and find your limits, then keep working at a pace that gets you to your goals within the time frame set.
Have you successfully set goals and taken action to complete them? Did you use some/any of the secrets mentioned above? Have I missed one that you think is important? (probably did ) Leave a comment below and let’s start discussing