Words are just words, and to quote Gandhi, “Actions express priorities.” And if there is anything, any task, any project, any responsibility that I’ve 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 just never do it.
Whether at work, at home, coaching teams or planning the next event at your church, 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.
Let’s begin with the end in mind, as Steven Covey has taught us. 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? Who will ‘own’ this?” This all starts with each one 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 what car to buy or lease. Maybe it will be where to go on vacation. This one is a favorite example of mine when coaching my team at work. Why? Because I heard this story years ago and have found it to be true, over and over.
When people are planning a vacation, something that usually is so emotional and important to us and our families, we really think it through and make thorough plans. I’ve found when asking my team to “share their plans,” man oh 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’ve 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.
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 it and we did it for us. This builds self-esteem and self-esteem promotes a healthy life.
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 the form of a 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. Maybe both of you’ve chosen to make this part of your lifestyle and can share this journey together, like sharing a vacation.
Once you’ve accomplished making lists as a habit, go celebrate. You are now one of the 10 percenters. You’ve achieved a skill and habit that will allow you to make your life more fulfilling and rewarding. 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) and results (celebrate your achievements).
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 – to teach others how to get results. If you are not a list-maker today and want to be: Buy a calendar or find an app or use a Post-it Note and write on it every morning; make today’s list; and do it!
Go from “Words are just words” to “Words create lists of actions/behaviors that create our desired results.”
Troy Clogg is the founder and president of Troy Clogg Landscape Associates in Wixom, Mich., and a frequent contributor to Snow Magazine, a GIE Media publication. www.troyclogg.com