“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt
Two weeks ago I posted an essay about living a life worth living for every one of us. I talked about the importance of seeing the big picture in life, where we are heading and ask ourselves whether we are rowing our boat to the right direction. And recently I wrote about life’s challenge, difficulties, and how we could cope with it. To break and fall, or strive beyond the difficulties toward greatness. In this post I would like to talk deeper about the actual reality of our everyday life and compare it with the “ideal” steps we need to take to achieve our personal goals. First of all we need to define what a “goal” is to each of us, generally “goal” means a written target we want to achieve in certain period of time. Notice the word “written”, there’s quite big difference between daydreaming and goals where daydreaming is, well, a dream. When we talked about goals, we talk about a realistic target we could attain by doing certain things over period of time, with planning and timetable of several actions needed to be done.
The reason why most of us didn’t get to finish a project or achieve our goals is simply because we don’t break them apart small enough. Reread that, “we don’t break them apart small enough”, it means we have to dissect it into the smallest do-able tasks. I understand that not all of us are having fun in planning our weeks, months, or even year. But for “future oriented” person like me, I found this activity stimulating and exciting due to the limitless opportunities that lies ahead. This “planning” things start from having a small pocketable notes and a pen (not pencil or marker), there we could wrote every project, things to do, future plan, where you want to go, what you want to do in five years, literally everything you have on your mind. Imagine yourself in the past without this notebook, whenever you had a genius, million dollar ideas, you’ll think about it for a while then forget it after days or so. Now with this notebook you could write every action and project you want to do now and in the future, this list serves as a reminder and your daily compass in life. Whenever you are asked to do something, ask yourself, “is this going to help me realizing my goal?”….. Of course there’s time to chat with friends, relaxing at beach, but limit it to your “wanted” allowance.
One year ago I wrote in my notebook things like, “Make a blog about psychology”, “study stock investing”, and “sell photos online”. I read it everyday while marking the finished tasks I’ve done that day, but failed to mark this three most important things on the list. Months went by without one of it done, or even started! I know I’m not lazy and I love to extent myself in ways I love, so conclude the problem wasn’t motivation. I’m highly energized and I could imagine how satisfied I would be to have just one of them accomplished decently. Then I read more books about self development, time management, and productivity. Not long after, I realized that the problem was the way I wrote the “To do List”, I should have write the details below the main project! Here’s how I break it down:
– Make a blog about psychology
> Sign up WordPress and think of the title and format
> Write an introduction about myself and why I have the blog
> Post one short psychology concept in daily life
> Post in daily prompt about psychologycal aspect of the current prompt
– Study stock investing
> Buy and read “Intelligent Investor”
> Buy and read “Technical Analysis Explained”
> Develop a portfolio managing strategy
> Read at least 30 stock investing books this year (2013)
– Sell photos online
> Sign up at Flickr
> Post my best shots
> Contribute to Getty image
After breaking down the list I feel powerful and in control, I know there was no more excuse but laziness to not doing the tasks when everything is outlined in an do-able checklist, and as a person who think himself as productive my ego have to do defend itself and win the fight against laziness. And that’s the end of my procrastination and feeling powerless era, it’s also the starting point for me to develop myself understanding motives and psychological state in people actions. In slightly more than one year (where I stand now), I’ve develop this blog (>300 posts and >450 followers) although it may not be a big number compared to yours or others but I love to share some of my knowledge. In one year I also read more than thirty stock investing and macroeconomic books, I mixed the bookd because it got boring to read the same technical analysis method in five consecutive books. I was invited to contribute in Getty image and sold my first picture, today totalling only $143, the money is not much but I got a sense of satisfaction knowing I could earn some money from selling photos. I only submitted 12 photos year ago and haven’t got the time (or perhaps, willpower) to update it, imagine what I could do with my current 5000s photos.
By listing my project and To Do List in the most precise details I could, not only I become more effecfive and productive, I also feel an increase in life quality. I become more relaxed by writing my thoughts instead of letting it float in my brain, and there isn’t time wasted anymore. I bring a book everywhere to read while waiting, and whenever I couldn’t read I would think of actions I could do to improve my life. For the next task you need to do, ask yourself if this will contribute to your goal realization, then break it down if it’s worth a go!