Throughout the year, I spend a lot of time thinking about my future. I consciously put time aside to sort through my feelings around the actions I’m about to take before I do anything.
I believe in the power of visualizing your goals. If you can sit back and create the perfect picture of how you want to live your life you can start taking actions toward obtaining that image in real list. In the time I spend thinking, I might create a vision board, write out my thoughts, create a five-year plan or create a to-do list for the next week. I might decide that this is a time of rest – and simply rest.
Visualizing your goals, planning them out, and goal setting are some of the first steps that most successful people take to achieve their goals. However, these tools for success can also become some of the biggest thieves of your time – especially when you spend too much time planning our your goal and never actually start working on it.
If these are important first steps to take in achievement, how do you know when you’re doing the meaningful internal work and necessary planning process – and when you’re using these tools as a form of procrastination?
Here are the four key ways to know when it’s time to START:
YOU’VE ALREADY DECIDED ON THE GOAL YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE.
The process of creating a vision board (or taking some time to think about the next step of your journey) can be invaluable to help you re-evaluate the things that you want out of life. There are time in our lives where we spend so much time working and catering to our home and family that we do not have time left over to take care of ourselves – much less plan out our future.
Time to think about your goals is highly important reflection period to help you realign with your goals, however, it can also be a huge procrastination point. Have you ever decided on the goal you want to pursue, but then you spend another few weeks marinating on it? You might ask yourself things like “Is this really what I want?” or “What if I fail?” These questions you ask yourself internally are not productive because it’s likely you have no idea what it will be like to work towards that goal or what the outcome will be. You’re simply scaring yourself (and I don’t blame you, pursuing a new goal is SCARY).
Don’t psych yourself out. Decide on your big vision – and then start.
YOU’VE TAKEN A CLASS OR TWO ON THE SUBJECT.
You’ve decided on the goal you want to achieve, woo-hoo! Now you’ve opened up your laptop to google everything on the subject, you’ve ready every blog post you can find, taken every free course, and given your email to every guru to receive the precious FREE downloads – because you need all the information you can get! This is your time to research your idea and the more you know, the better prepared you’ll be, right? Not necessarily.
If you’ve spent six month reading, researching, learning, and taking e-courses (or in person courses/conferences) in the matter – it’s time to START. Nothing will prepare you more for achieving a new goal like getting your hands dirty by starting the process of completing your goal and learning first hand through experience.
YOU’VE RESEARCHED ALL OF THE MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT TO GET STARTED.
OK, now we’re getting serious. At this point, you’ve decided on what you want to accomplish and you’ve done some studying to see exactly what you’ll need to accomplish your goal. You’ve even taken an additional step and researched all the materials you’ll need – you’re just putting together the money to purchase them.
Buying a suite of products to support your goal is one of the most deceptive procrastination tactics that keep you from accomplishing your goals – because you believe you’re making progress. In reality, you’re spending your time researching and buying products rather than simply doing the work that will help you move towards your goal. In most cases, you won’t need special equipment to start learning the process. (Plus you can always take advantage of apps, libraries and other community resources to help you along your way.) Also, if you wait until you have some experience executing your goals, you’ll have better idea of what you need your products to do to support you.
Skip the big purchases and start working on the goals – this is where the real value is.
YOU’VE EDITED YOUR TO-DO LIST… FOR THE THIRD TIME.
Everyone I know uses a to-do list in some form or fashion to keep track of the things they want to accomplish on an ongoing basis. I personally love using a to do list to make sure I’m on track with all the things I need to get done on any given day.
If you find yourself wondering what’s the right order you should do something in or trying to plan out your next three months down to the day – stop… and then start (working on your goals, of course)! While creating a to-do list can help you keep track of the things you need to get done, you’re still responsible for doing them. Also, your to-do list is not static! You can always add to it, take away from it or move things at any time.
While taking time to work on your vision and plan for your future is definitely time well spent, there is a fine line between preparation and procrastination. You owe it to your future self to know the difference… and then make her proud.
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