I belonged to an organization that had a Director of Getting Shit Done. That’s her official job title. It’s genius when you think about it. Take 40 planners and put them in a room, what happens?
I think Elvis had some wise words for us on that matter, “A little less conversation, a little more action please!”
Planning is great. We can plan till the cows come home, but if someone doesn’t get off their ass and take action, nothing gets done. Too often, we find ourselves stuck in this planning phase. We dream of a better tomorrow, and then go back to watching TV, while chugging a beer.
Planning is Procrastination
The Art of Manliness has addressed this idea. Talk about flipping the world on it’s head. Surely, we need a plan of attack before getting after it? Nope!
You don’t need to do some complex retirement income calculation to take intelligent action today. Get your employer match, if you’re so lucky to have one, or save in a Roth IRA. Take action today! You’ll have a larger nest egg at the end of your career than someone who spent hours pouring over Money Magazine articles, watching CNBC, but doing nothing.
This reminds me of a book, Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to 100 Million in No Time Flat, by Michael Masterson.
Note the sequence in the title. It’s not Ready, Aim, Fire. It’s Ready, Fire, Aim. Doing is more important. The planning and improvements come from the lessons learned by doing.
Most people go Ready, Aim – Aim – Aim – Aim and never pull the trigger. That’s the normal way of things, and normal doesn’t often lead to success.
Fear of Failure
Why do we act like this? Most of us think of the world as a number of doors. We imagine a wall with thousands, or even millions, of doors. These doors represent the choices we can make, any misstep closes a number of doors forever! (Dramatic music here.)
I’ve noticed this most recently with what appears to be a growing trend of college admission coaches. They’ll help Jr. pick just the right school, with the right program because… a wrong choice will close so many doors! We wouldn’t want that. I’d link to one as an example, but they’re so slimy I don’t want to you to think I’m endorsing one.
College is a place to explore your interests. Your dumbass 17 or 18-year-old self does not know what you want to be when you grow up, and worse, they can’t know till they get out and try a few things. There we are right back at Ready, Fire, Aim. Pull the trigger – try something. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world.
If you couldn’t decide what major course of study to mark on the application, and never applied – you wouldn’t get anywhere. We all know that, but when we translate that idea to the larger world we seem to forget.
Successful people know that their big idea is found on the other side of many failures. Failures provide an opportunity to learn – so don’t get stuck being afraid of failure.
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison
This is the same guy that found 10,000 ways NOT to make a lightbulb, or so the story goes! Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.
The 80/20 Rule
80% of your success in any endeavor will come from 20% of your efforts. Maybe there’s time for TV and Beer after all! We just have to identify the 20% of our time that we use most effectively and leverage those activities.
This is directly correlated to the law of diminishing returns. Getting the first 80% of the way is easy, but getting further requires increasingly more effort. Which makes me wonder if that remaining 20% is even worth the trouble. The idea is to isolate the things we do that produce the biggest result – get the most bang for our buck, our time, and the inherent sacrifices we make to get ahead.
Once we realize how little action it takes to be effective, it’s not so scary. We can put down all those finance magazines, and flip the TV to a channel we like instead of watching talking heads go on and on about “The Market” bouncing up and down. Sock some money away in your retirement account and forget about it.
The same principle applies to everything. Little action = BIG results. Running just 5 minutes a day can increase your life expectancy by 3 years. Who doesn’t want to live an extra 3 years? That’s even more impressive than the The 4-Hour Body!
Take a small action. Get out there and make it happen.
Money, Mouth, Me
What am I doing to put this idea in place? Am I putting my money where my mouth is?
There are 2 concepts at play here –
- Just Do It
- Do Something Small
That’s it. I am a planner. I like to daydream about the future, sitting in a leather chair at my (currently fictional) mountain view, lake house, writing or napping. Either way, living the dream there, right? But if all I do is dream, I’m never going to make it.
That’s why I’ve become part of the #5AMClub. I was exposed to this concept through business and motivation podcasts. This is the old military saying, “I get more done by 9AM than most people do all day.”
I’m doing something, and it is in fact rather small. I get up early and write. That’s it. Just get up early and write.
Small effort — big results.
“A little more bite and a little less bark,
a little less fight and a little more spark“