Words are just words, and to quote Gandhi, “actions express priorities.” And if there is anything, any task, any project, any responsibility, that I have enjoyed “teaching and sharing” ... it is just this. For some people, making lists and then accomplishing the goals and tasks, just seems to come naturally. For others, they will do it if constantly asked and required. And others, well they just “never” do it.
Whether at work, at home, coaching teams or planning the next event at your church, then the following steps are the same. Well, they are the same if a well-orchestrated plan is to play out and achieve the preset and desired goals! So, let’s begin with the end in mind, as Steven Covey has taught us. Let’s first define: Why am I even doing this? Where are we going? What will it look like? Feel like? Cost us? How long will it take? Who will I need help from? And of course, who will “own” this? Whatever “this” is? Who will be the “champion” of this project? This all starts with each and everyone of us as the “champion” of our own life.
At home, this might be planning where to move, now that the family is growing? Or maybe, what car to buy or lease. Maybe it will be where are we going on our next vacation? Now this one is a favorite example of mine when coaching my team at work. Why you may ask? Well, because I heard this story years ago and have found it to be true, over and over.
See, when people are planning a vacation, something that usually is so very emotional and important to us and our families, we really think it through and make plans that are very thorough. I have found when asking my team to “share their plans” ... man o man, they have plans!
They, like so many of us, have spent significant time determining a timeframe, budget, route of travel, places along the way, who is coming and more. They have solved the why, what and how of said vacation. Now this would make us believe, or at least it has made me believe, that this same process should be repeatable in other areas of life. Child-rearing? Marriages? Careers? Personal growth plans? Gaining a skill or learning a sport?
See, I believe this process helps define where we are going and as we progress through the steps and check the boxes, we feel accomplished, satisfied and proud of our achievements. All of this can happen without waiting for someone to tell us “good job,” we know we did a good job. We planned and we did it for us. This builds self-esteem and self-esteem promotes a healthy life.
Ok, so how does this work? It's simple, just not easy. It starts by making daily lists. Lists of all that we need to accomplish today. Repeat this process, experts tell us, up to as many as 200 times and then it will become a habit.
Once you are doing this daily, by habit, increase your lists to encompass several days or weeks in advance. Include work, family, personal, hobbies, etc. I suggest putting all activities in a form of calendar that works for you. I am partial to writing in a calendar, as studies prove that writing lists, not digital lists, have greater chance of success with us humans. But any list that creates success is a good list. A great help in accomplishing this is having an “accountability partner.” Maybe this is your spouse, friend or coworker. Make it fun. Maybe both of you have chosen to make this part of your lifestyle and can share this journey together, you know, like sharing a vacation.
Now, once you have accomplished making lists as a habit, you should go celebrate. You are now one of the 10 percenters. You have achieved a skill and habit that will allow you to make your life more fulfilling and rewarding. So, if you haven’t already made a list of big goals, or sometimes called big hairy audacious goals (BHAG), now is the time. Make lists of personal, work and family goals. They are goals that will take months, years and maybe a lifetime to achieve. Don’t set easy-to-achieve goals, like I’m going to lose five pounds. And don’t set goals that are out of reach, like I’m going to fly to Pluto. I was going to say the moon or Mars, but that might happen if you are young enough and you are reading this.
The object is to define your:
- Beliefs (goals)
- Behaviors (what and how you will get to your goals)
- Results (celebrate your achievements)
In closing, if you are already a list-maker, planner, calendar-user, goal-setter, visionary, high-achiever, then there is possibly only one thing to add to your list. I would say that would be teach and coach others how to get results and feel as good as you do when you are celebrating. If you are not a list-maker today, and want to be:
- Step 1 — Buy a calendar or find an app or use a Post-it note and write on it every morning.
- Step 2 — Make today’s list.
- Step 3 — Do it!
Also, find an accountability partner or a mentor, someone in your life who is a list-maker and is willing to help you by sharing how they do it and the results they achieve. Finally, read up on it as there are lots of books and blogs on the topic, just find one that speaks to you and get after it! You will turn from “Words are just words” to “Words create lists of actions/behaviors that create our desired results”!