Steps to making anything happen

Posted: 16 November, 2012 in Goals, inspiration, motivation, Staying positive, writing
Tags: , ,

Every success we’ve ever had shares something in common with the greatest success stories in the world: even the smallest step in the right direction made a difference. I can’t think of any great success story that happened in one giant leap. Even people labeled “overnight successes” laugh when they hear that. Why? Because they know there was a lot of hard work that went into that success, some of it spanning months or even years before anyone took notice. Regardless of what you are working towards – writing that book/script/article/blog, starting a business, losing weight, retiring, saving for a holiday – there are certain actions that successful people agree are essential to making it happen. And you have complete control over all of them.

1. Make a plan – I know this one gets talked about a lot but the reason for that is because it’s so important. To know what you need to do you must know where you’re starting from and where you want to go. A plan will also show you what obstacles you’ll encounter on the way and give you plenty of time to work out how to deal with or avoid them completely.

2. Make it personal – Dedication is a key factor in reaching a goal and we can’t be fully dedicated to any project if we’re doing it for other people and not for ourselves. If your goal is to write a book or get published in a magazine, that’s great. But if the article you are trying to write is about a friend’s holiday experience, which you only agreed to write about after she pumped you full of alcohol last Friday night, you probably aren’t going to give it your all. It has to be something personal. It has to be something you have passion for, because that is what is going to drive you to the end.

3. Make it a priority – While not every goal we have can be our number one priority, there are some that just have to come first. This is especially true with writing. You’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: the most important thing for a writer to do is (drum roll please) write! This might mean writing when you’re sick, tired, lonely, sad, angry, frustrated, or when you just don’t want to write. But everyone knows you won’t succeed at anything if you only do it when you’re feeling great. It’s the times we push ourselves to write even when we don’t want to that will get the book or article done. Half the work is just getting yourself to the keyboard or pick up the pen. Waiting for the “right idea”, the “right time”, or the “right mood” means you will probably never write another word again.

4. Make it rewarding – Yes, there will be a big reward at the end of the journey but don’t disregard the little rewards along the way. The first chapter, the first article acceptance, the first payment for a writing job in the bank, the first byline, the day when you can finally hand in your resignation to write full time – these are the amazing rewards you’ll get along the way. If these don’t excite you at all and you can only think about the end goal it might be time to revise your plan – why are you doing this? If you don’t enjoy the journey, you probably won’t really appreciate the final destination either. If you don’t enjoy the whole writing process, and the idea of finishing a first chapter (or fifth, or tenth) doesn’t give you tingly happy feelings all over, you definitely need to think about doing something else.

5. Make it fun – This is something people often forget when working towards a goal. Yes, much of what needs to be accomplished has to be done seriously but don’t forget to make time for fun as well. Some days I need a break from the computer so I’ll pick up a coloured texta (or 10) and an A3 sketchbook and write my article or blog entry like I’m scribbling on a canvas. You don’t always have to be sitting in front of the computer to write. Grab a pen and some paper and head outside. Go to the park or zoo and take your notebook with you. Or go for a walk and take a voice recorder. Have a nice long conversation with yourself, dictating the next chapter or a few article ideas. Yes, you might look slightly crazy walking along talking to yourself but I don’t know many writers who are truly sane to begin with so I don’t think many reputations will be damaged with this one. Whatever your idea of fun, try to incorporate it into your work.

6. Make it to the end – I don’t mean just make it to the end of your goal. Sometimes we need little pit stops along the way to give us the momentum to keep going. Break your larger goal into smaller ones and concentrate on reaching them. If you’re struggling to get words on paper, pick a number and write until you reach that number. Just get there. Make it to the end of a chapter. Make it to the end of an hour. Make it to the end of the notebook. Once there, even if it’s been a short trip, you will be surprised at the feeling of accomplishment you get. “I made it to the end of [whatever]!” Again, don’t disregard these small accomplishments – they are what every success story is made up of.

7. Make it worthwhile – My final piece of advice is to make your goal worthwhile. If it’s not worth your time and effort, if it’s not beneficial to you or others, if you’re not being productive or constructive, why are you doing it? I’m not saying you need to justify everything you do; you only have to answer to yourself with this one. But if you’re struggling through an article that holds no interest for you, it probably won’t interest anyone else either. Is it really worth your time? You also need to remember that not everyone may see what you are doing as valuable or worthwhile, but that shouldn’t make it less so. I want to go to uni and finish some studies I started years ago. Some have told me this is a waste of time and money but for me it’s not. This is a goal that means so much to me and will help me in my career and in my long-term goals. Because it matters to me, the person doing all the work, it’s a worthwhile project.

No-one can guarantee success in any venture, but I can show you a way to guarantee failure. It’s to do the opposite of all these things. Don’t plan, make everything else a priority, make it a boring journey with no rewards along the way, and make it about everyone else and not you and you are sure to fail. More importantly, what a bloody miserable way to spend your time! If you’re not going to have fun and a sense of real accomplishment, why would you want to do it? If you want to do it – really want to do it – it will become fun, personal, worthwhile and rewarding for you.

And that’s all you need to succeed, to make anything happen!

  1. ericjbaker says:

    Well said. I like the last bit about how to guarantee failure. It’s like one of the sports axioms: You don’t score on 100% of the shots you don’t take.

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