Start Something

There are plenty of reasons why you might fail:

  • The idea isn’t good enough…
  • The brief is unclear…
  • You spent too much money…
  • Or not enough…
  • You may launch too early…
  • Or leave it too late…
  • You target the wrong people…
  • You could be too niche…
  • Or too broad…
  • You might not be good enough (yet!)…
  • Or experienced enough…
  • Or lucky enough.

But there is one sure-fire way to guarantee failure:

  • You never started.

The first step is always the hardest because you have it all to do, but once you make a start, you have something to build on. The momentum makes each new step that little bit easier.

Of course there will be hard times, and unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee success, but with every step in the right direction, you have the experience of all your previous steps to learn from and improve on.

As the saying goes ‘the things you regret most in life are the risks you didn’t take’. If you don’t try anything then technically you will also never fail, but what kind of life would that be? When all is said and done, you will feel more fulfilled having given it your best shot. So, what’s in the way of you starting something?

Setting Yourself Up For Success

Think about something you want to achieve – a personal goal perhaps. What would success look like to you? What are the steps you need to take to make it happen?

It really doesn’t matter how anyone else would see success for you, only what you think. The key to defining success is to set objectives that are within your control to achieve and not dictated by outside factors.

For me, I plan to be a successful writer this year. On the face of it, that might seem like quite a fanciful statement, but when you break it down to the separate parts it becomes a lot more manageable. I write for me, not for anyone else. I want to improve as a writer and use my writing as a way to express myself. I have defined what success looks like for me using these 3 objectives:

1) To write every day, for at least 20 minutes. It doesn’t matter if I’m writing for my blog, writing fiction or journalling, all that matters is that for 20 minutes every day I sit down and write.

2) To post at least once to my blog every week. At the moment, that’s about as much as I can manage, but I would like to up this to twice a week.

3) To see improvement in my writing over time. I will measure this in terms of both the quality of output, as well as how much editing I have to do from the first draft. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll be able to look back on these early posts and see how far I’ve come along.

So that’s it. I’ve not overcomplicated things and kept it as streamlined as possible. There might be some goals where you want to really push yourself by setting really ambitious goals. I want to solidify the habit first, so if I can stick to this in 2019, then I can pick up the pace for the year after.
Whatever you want to achieve, this simple framework can help you to make it a reality.

Too busy or too distracted?

We always feel the need to be ‘doing something’, as our lives are seemingly too busy. Next time you have the TV on in the background, catching up on some show that isn’t entertaining enough to give your full attention, while scrolling through various apps/articles/feeds on your phone, think about why. Would you rather be doing a few things that don’t warrant your full attention, or would you rather just do one thing, but do it right, and do nothing else at the same time?

Patience

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

My writing isn’t very good at the moment but I’m OK with that. The start of any journey is always the hardest part, but it does get easier. The key is not to get frustrated and give up. It takes time to get better- that is true of everything in life- relationships, hobbies, work. The real pleasure in life comes from knowing you are growing, really seeing and appreciating every breakthrough that you make and enjoying every step of the way. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself straight away to be the best you can be. Sometimes that internal pressure can be useful – it separates the good from the great but if life is a journey then it doesn’t always have to be a sprint.

I enjoy writing, and I will get better at it the more I practice. I don’t need to be the best writer in the world, and I won’t get annoyed that I struggle to put the right words on the page sometimes. But I will enjoy the journey.

Multitasking

“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.”
Gary Keller

I’ve never been one for multitasking, in fact most of the time I struggle with doing one thing at a time. We’re told constantly how this is the key to achieving maximum productivity, but I don’t buy it. How can dividing your attention between things possibly help improve either task?

I think it comes down to time, and our perceived lack of it. What I would say is that if something is really worth doing, and is important to you then it really deserves your full attention. Have you ever tried having a meaningful conversation with someone while they’re looking at their phone? Looking up occasionally, giving a nod and then getting back to whatever it is that’s clearly more interesting and important than what you’re saying. It’s very annoying.

We’ve somehow convinced ourselves as a society that we are a lot busier than we actually are. “I don’t have time to take a lunch break today, so I’ll just grab a snack and eat at my desk”. “Sorry Mum, no time to talk. I’ll call you in a few days when I’ve finished this project.” We never seem to have enough time… Yet we have seen that funny cat video that’s gone viral on YouTube, and read that BuzzFeed article about the 200 most amazing things from reality TV, and caught the latest ep of Game of Thrones, and played Grand Theft Auto 5. It’s not that we don’t have enough time, but that we get pulled into all these distractions – our attention is constantly being taken by all these things that don’t matter. Next time you’re on a train, look at how many people are on their phones. How many are playing Candy Crush? My guess is quite a few. Or scrolling mindlessly through a social media feed – not really taking anything in but just endlessly scrolling.

Some of these ‘distractions’ might bring you joy, they may really add value to your life and that’s fine, but you need to ask, am I missing out on something more important? Is my attention being taken away from something else that is far more deserving of my time? The next time you feel like you’re too busy have a think about what has been taking your time away from you, and if it has really been worth it.

Find something you love, focus on it above all else, and see whether or not that brings you more joy. I bet it will.