I don’t know about you, but I’ve always started a lot of things, and generally, I’ve never been a listless or totally idle person. I always did something: college classes, designing course, homework, a job here and there, volunteer work, etc. Those who looked from afar had no doubt that I was being to some extent quite productive. I read a lot, went out with my friends regularly, and always had a blog or a small writing project going on.
You could look from all outside angles, and by A + B, I proved to you that I was a good performer. I mean, executor of my ideas. Poor word choice, but you get what I meant. That was what it looked like, obviously. Because inside, if you looked at the ideas that popped into my head, the story would be different. I started many things and didn’t finish almost any.
The only things I really did were the medium and long-term obligations that everyone needs at one time or another to afford: college and work.
Notice the difference between what you do and what you don’t do
If we look closely, a lot of useful things can be discovered. When you say you can’t put things into practice, what are you talking about exactly?
Take a break from reading if you don’t know this answer, and take the time to make a basic list of these items. What do you always think of doing and never do? Is it a hyper-bureaucratic, boring task you’re pushing with your belly? Some childhood dream, too crazy, which your mind says has no way to come true? A new habit or a lifestyle change?
I know I have some specific locks with some particular subjects. That simple.
Every time I try to put a project related to one of these sub-areas of my life into practice, I get stuck. What happens to many people, however, is that the most relevant, most valuable, and most difficult projects tend to receive the least attention. They get lost in the chaos of everyday life or, surprise, you come across some totally stuck limiting belief that tells you that you can’t really do that. I am one of those people, too.
Perfectionism (the unrealistic willingness to do everything 100% proof) can also rob you of many – and I tell many – valuable resources and leave you in total drought without enough action to bet on your own. The reasons are many and my role here is not as a therapist.
I just want to give you, if you have never thought of it, an excuse to notice the exact things that you cannot (now or ever) put into practice. They certainly have something in common and no wonder they are difficult for you. Life organization & personal planning is also self-knowledge.
Do you really want to do this?
Like, sending the real straight away: when we are completely sure what we want, everything is easier. And May I be biased and giving you this advice because I’m already a scalded cat? This is very likely to be so.
I am an indecisive person and not getting my hands on fire for my ideas (i.e. not knowing exactly what I want) has always robbed me of my power of action. That’s for sure, too, but not only.
Because, man, if I tell you how many people say they know what they want and that at the time can’t come up with their own idea because deep down they’re not ready to make that commitment or because they’re not quite sure what to do.
As an indecisive person by nature, I tell you: you don’t have to be 100 percent firm in your choices to put some ideas into practice. You can try, test, redo. No one will charge you a breach of contract fee and you don’t have to write anything in stone. Everything is changeable, but you do have to have a good reason to be doing that.
This always greatly increases our power of action. Even if you don’t have a plan. Even if you don’t know, on the starting line, what will be the exact course you will be running? It’s a bit of that maxim: when we want, we do. I know this idea is reductionist, but I want to take a little break to ask you to search for your hidden motivation with love.
Why do you want to put this project to work? Who is making you? How will it improve your future? And why do you always think about it and never do? What circumstances are you missing? Is it lack of motivation or some more practical detail? When the fuel is good everything works well.
Decide precisely what you want
One of the processes that I see most happening is this one, look: the person says he wants to get X. He programs himself to do X, creates corresponding and very realistic tasks, but in the middle, because of something that someone said or because of a mental process of his own, he changes his mind.
Suddenly he doesn’t want X anymore, he wants X.2. It changes the ultimate goal without changing the plan. And that’s a great recipe for disaster.
If you have already noticed what handful of projects you are really trying to do in practice, and never get it, the next logical step is really to define which project it is. With practical words that really draw an idea possible to exist, such as: “I want to stop being sedentary.” Perfect!
This is a very realistic goal. You may not know how to put it into practice yet, but planning for this project comes in a second moment. For now, you just need to decide what you want. Then, you will hit the hammer in the exact form that you will do it.
Stopping being a sedentary person is trillions of times different from running a 5K race. Do you notice the subtle difference? (Irony). When you understand why you are combing into doing that and putting your wonderful idea into the world, you gain more clarity in what you want to do, literally. Of all the things you can do in this whole world (and they are not few), why did you choose to do it?
What is the reason? That was the lesson of the previous section. If you have already figured out why then now is the time to write the goal. Even if you don’t know how you will get there. Most of us do not know.
If you ask me, I say that we need to be less Cartesian-Western-controller and leave things a little more in the hands of fate. Also because, as a quote I love and that I am going to rewrite freely in my words here, your initial plan is not the same as the one that gets you to your destination. It is just the first step, the first ideas. You, as a well-formed adult in society, are an intelligent person who can plan things minimally.
What do you need to go to a wedding in another state this Sunday, for example? You create a shortlist, remember the obstacles, and create solutions. Natural planning coming straight from the source. Decide exactly where you want to go and keep an eye out, for Christ’s sake, to see if you will change your mind halfway.
If that final destination no longer suits you, stop everything, think and reevaluate. I still want to start this blog? Still, want to do this class exactly? One of the worst things in life is to be internally charged with a goal that your heart has long since abandoned.
Free yourself! Or modify your goal. This requires constant vigilance, but knowing exactly what you want is the first and biggest step to getting there.
It doesn’t have to be a sacrifice
Simply put, you can create informal projects and make the tasks of this project fun. Oh, that’s great! Not every goal needs to be a Herculean sacrifice, not every goal needs to take your blood, and not all your projects need to go to your medal table.
You can have fun and you can be pretty bad at what you are doing – at least at first. I am not saying, of course, that you should not take your own projects seriously. Of course, you should.
But who created this correlation between “seriousness” and the “value” of something? Why do you have to take something seriously to really do that? You don’t have to, man. And if you know that your project is not professional, you can do things the shitty way you can. Most importantly, the funniest way you can think of. This is what blocks many ideas from seeing daylight: presuming, before you even move your finger to actually create that, you have to suffer.
“After all, fun projects don’t count,” our inner voice tells us. The pressure to create something perfect, serious, valiant, and sounding “good and noble” in the eyes of others can greatly influence our power of action. What would you do today, or tomorrow, if you didn’t have to be accountable to anyone?
Suppose you have every free Sunday some free time for you. These hours do not necessarily have to be spent on work or family. They are there waiting for you to give them a purpose. What would you choose to do?
Any parallel creative projects? An initiative to take better care of your health? Would you work some more? Tidy up the house, create something special for your children? Or simply take care of you, giving yourself some much-deserved pampering? No matter what kind of project you want to start.
It can be professional, personal or social. Whatever your project, I give you one certainty and one permission: you can do it today with grace and authenticity, just the way you are and with all the current circumstances around you. You already have everything you need.
If you find a way to go after just fun ideas (or make the boring and difficult process of some tasks into something more playful and more within your beach), nothing will stop you, man; I guarantee it.