February 4, 2013 by David
All the time, I find myself making plans: I have a plan to start my own business, to write my own book, to run for office, etc. In fact, the most successful people in the world constantly make plans; preparation is necessary if you want to achieve greatness. In every self-help book out there (regardless of the title) you will find the central theme to be that single, insurmountable, immutable law of making more of yourself: planning.
Americans spend millions of dollars a year on, basically, that single paragraph of information. If some college kid can come up with that same advice, on the Internet, for free – then how valuable can it really be? (On that note: feel free to pay me millions of dollars after reading that.) Is planning really the most important rule of self-improvement? My answer: no. Not by a long shot.
Now don’t get me wrong, goal-setting is extremely important. That’s why I recommend it daily. But planning is not enough to turn your life from substandard into supernova. In fact it’s missing one important thing: action.
Planning is easy.
Acting is hard.
Ask yourself this question: “What dreams do I have that I haven’t acted upon?” Maybe you want to go to college; maybe you want to travel to a different country; maybe you want to start your own business. Whatever may be your dream, dreaming it is not enough. So here is a three step guide for turning your dreams into action.
Step One: Define your dream. Ambiguity is the killer of achievement. If your dream is to “make a difference,” and that’s all you have – you probably won’t see many results (if any at all). On the other hand if your dream is to “make a difference by tutoring at-risk middle schoolers every week,” then you will be 100% more likely to succeed. You can still dream big dreams – just make them specific.
Step Two: Give yourself a deadline. We’re all victims of the “I’ll do it later” strategy. After I graduate. After I settle down. After I get that promotion. After I retire. The key to getting anything done, I have found, is to give yourself a deadline, and preferably a short one at that. The only thing better than having a well-defined goal is having a timetable and a plan to achieve that goal.
Step Three: Tell EVERYONE. This is the most important step. People are generally nervous about revealing their ambitions. But whenever we tell people about our goals, it makes us work that much harder to achieve them so we can be spared the embarrassment of not succeeding. So whenever you come up with your specific goal and your specific deadline, let people know about it. I like to call this process “blackmailing yourself into success.” And it’s extremely effective.
You can plan and plan until you have the most perfect plan in all the world, but until you get up, get going, and actually do something, that’s all your dream will ever be: a plan. So start acting now. Start living with ferocity. Start striving for your dreams as though your life depended on it – because it does. But most importantly, never imagine even for a second that your dreams are beyond you. You are worthy of your dreams. And your dreams are worthy of action.
Ready. Set. Go.
Inspired by Jason Roberts.