Do you often feel ensnared by your complicated, demanding life, suffocating in endless demands and obligations? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. People frequently feel overwhelmed as they try to tackle the ordinary challenges of everyday life. But in most cases, this impression is an illusion because being overwhelmed is not a circumstance, but an emotion.
To stop feeling overwhelmed you must first learn to become an expert daily planner (see my blog, 5 Sure-Fire Methods To Overcome Your Natural Instincts To Resist Personal Growth). Once you become proficient at daily planning you will then, and only then, begin to feel organized, empowered and in control. You will begin to see clearly how to accomplish your daily tasks that will ultimately enable you to complete your primary goal… in a timely manner!
To achieve a difficult goal in the shortest period of time you must first make a concrete decision to act, then learn how to manage 3 resources: Money, Time and Attention, prioritize strategies, measure your progress and sacrifice MT&A. If right now you’re thinking to yourself, “I’ve heard this all before,” you’re making an error. This is a laser-guided blueprint to achieve ANYTHING in your life that you set your mind to.
1. Make a Concrete Decision: This might sound obvious, but so many people fail here. The first thing you must do if you decide do something is make a concrete decision to do it; no matter who you have to talk to, what research you have to do, or what you have to learn. Just do it!
Your decision needs to be firm, etched in stone and immovable; not merely something that you’re going to “try”, or something you “should” be doing, but something you MUST do or else! If your mindset is one of, “Well, let’s see if it works,” it affords the opportunity for an “escape hatch” or “wriggle room” to enable you to talk yourself out of completing your goal. So, how do you avoid this pitfall? By physically writing down your goal and the multiple activities attached thereto (see my blog, 5 Sure-Fire Methods To Overcome Your Natural Instincts To Resist Personal Growth) and then taking massive action!
2. Budget Your Money: Any new activities that you set out to do will cost money, whether its fuel for your car for additional errands, buying a “How to” book or attending a seminar. So, prior to executing the first task on your path to goal completion, you must plan in advance the expenditures involved for all tasks to be undertaken. Many people quit and fail due to under-capitalization because they didn’t plan ahead. If you don’t plan… you plan to fail!
Outline your goal starting with your main goal as the heading (I. Climb Mount Everest) containing multiple sub-headings or bullets underneath (tasks or strategies – A. Hire Sherpa) that make up the main subject (Summit!). You may find that you also require sub-bullets for sub-headings (a. Get map of Himalayas, b. Learn Nepali language). Write the estimated costs next to each bullet and sub-bullet and total them up, placing the total cost next to your heading (add an extra 10% to total cost because I find people tend to under-estimate their costs).
If after outlining and estimating the costs of your goal you find that you can’t afford it, then the goal is too big for you at this time. If so, just redefine your goal with less tasks so you can afford it. For example, if your goal is to lose 100 lbs., it will cost X-amount of dollars in wholesome, healthy food, a gym membership and perhaps a personal trainer over a 6-month period. If you can’t afford the 6-month cost, then redefine your goal to 75 lbs., or 50 lbs., or whatever you can afford. But whatever you do, don’t give up your goal, just modify it.
Smart financial projections will prevent any undue surprises along the path to personal achievement and ensure your success. Again, get out a pen and paper and physically write down your itemized expenditures for not only each goal, but for each task and sub-task involved in completing your goal.
3. Budget Your Time: This is the #1 objection that I hear from people, “Oh, I don’t have enough time.” Really? Not enough time? You have just as much time as Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerman, Sister Teresa and Helen Keller! Right?!?
If you truly think that you don’t have enough time, I want you to do an exercise for me.
Exercise #1: Draw 3 columns on a piece of paper labeled Sleep, Work and Free-Time. For Sleep, write down how many hours you sleep in a 24-hour period. It’s important not to exaggerate here; if you sleep for 7-hours, don’t write down 8; if sometimes you sleep 6 and sometimes 8, take an average and write down 7. The same goes for your Work column; write down the average amount of hours you work per day. And also for your Free-Time column; you don’t grocery shop, get your hair done or go to the post office every day, so take an average of the time it takes each day to complete your chores and errands. Add up all the numbers from each column and subtract the total from 24; this is the total Free-Time you have in hours each day to accomplish your goal.
If you really have no Free-Time, this sometimes indicates a problem and I encourage you to go to Time Thoughts and discover the reasons why.
4. Budget Your Attention: Actually, time and attention go side-by-side… desirably! Desirably, when time is being spent, attention is being spent too. Your success is largely determined by how much of your attention you can devote to your time completing a task. Have you ever been present for a task physically but your mind is focused on 3 other things in your life to the extent that you’re not their mentally? This is when you need to budget your attention, or better put, allocate 100% of your attention to your current physical location and your task at hand.
The secret to budgeting your attention is, when you allocate your time, also allocate your attention, or at the very least, be aware of the close association needed between the two in order to be effective and the disassociation that often occurs. You see, the resource of attention is easily dispersed and dissipated, and if your time is worth committing toward a task, the task is worth having 100% of your attention. If not, you’ll unwittingly fall into the trap of “dilly-dallying” or getting side-tracked, which only serves to prolong or sabotage accomplishing your ultimate goal.
This ineffective behavior actually becomes a habit for many and they constantly multitask all day without focusing on the main task and objective. When you’re not effectively using the resource of attention it’s very difficult to notice that your attention is dispersed. This habit is so important to notice and break that I want you to do another exercise for me.
Exercise #2: Next time you have a task to undertake, I want you to keep a record every 30-minutes paying close attention to how many times you stop your activity and answer the phone, check your email, Tweet, Google, clean up your desk, get a cup of coffee or a snack. Work diligently on your power to concentrate mentally and FULLY do what you set out to do and don’t let anything distract you!
5. Prioritize Your Tasks or Strategies: Decide upon the order of task importance based on your goal and decide what to do first, then second, then third and so on. Estimate a realistic timeframe for each strategy and write each time next to each task and sub-task. Add up the times for each strategy to be completed to arrive at the total time deadline for your goal and write this down next to total costs by your headline.
So, at this point your goal is written down with its multiple sub-heading strategies along with the estimated expenditures and timeframes for each activity. This will provide you with a visual roadmap, so there’s no guess work, to keep you on track. Next, take all the necessary actions to complete your tasks, whether it’s learning, research, marketing, networking or whatever.
If while performing your tasks you notice that you’re exceeding your time limit for completion, move on! I see too many people getting hung-up in perfectionism and delaying accomplishment. Dot the “I’s” and cross the “T’s” later. Stay within your deadline as closely as possible and complete your goal.
6.Measure Your Progress: If while performing a task you notice that the strategy is ineffective, “turn-on-a-dime” and change the strategy! Adaptability plays a BIG role in personal achievement due to intervening forces that may have been unforeseeable at the time of initial goal planning, or just a poor plan from the onset. Simply put, if it doesn’t work… fix it! And fix it fast! (research, learning, talking to mentor).
7. Sacrifice MT&A: In order to take all the necessary tasks to completion, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices in the department of Money, Time and Attention (remember: you’re accomplishing a difficult goal!). In other words, you must direct the majority of your Money, Time and Attention specifically toward attacking your goal, cutting costly and time consuming hobbies and events that are not relevant to goal completion (e.g., cut costs of golf, spa, theater, restaurants, gym, cut the 5-hour water skiing, the 4-hour bike ride, the 3-hour hike in half or less or out completely). This way, your Money, Time and Attention won’t be spread too thin across too many aspects of your life, so you can be more effective with these 3 resources.
It’s a one-time sacrifice for a life-time reward, then reinstate your hobbies and much, much more after mission accomplished. By making these sacrifices you commit yourself 100% to your goal and this will bestow on you enormous determination to overcome ANY obstacles that get in your way from reaching your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
It’s your decision making power and the follow-through of that decision that increases your time and attention. It’s your concrete decision to complete your goal that will have the greatest impact on your success.
Effectively managing the 3 resources of Money, Time and Attention is a HUGE part of your success because it shifts all 3 resources into a single direction simultaneously, and once you do that, you’ll be unstoppable!
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