Several friends this week, including my beloved Gini Dietrich, have been sharing a list of the ten, twenty or even 100 things they want to do before they die. I appreciate this kind of long-term planning and admire those who are willing to think so far down their own road, but it’s never really worked for me. I’m just starting to get my head around what I want to accomplish in the present, so I think it’s safe to say that this kind of long-term list would go unfinished… for now.
What I do find myself thinking a lot about is the ways I’m going to go about the things I want to do right now. With that in mind, I’d thought I’d share ten things I’m doing to get one thing done instead:
- Knowing My Shortcomings – I’m a flawed individual. I battle a lifetime of bad habits and the occasional string of bad choices. The more that I’m realistic about where I fall short, the more likely I can break the habits and make better choices.
- Enhancing My Strengths – I’ve always focused on being well rounded. I’ve often focused considerable energy on the areas where I am weak. While I can’t avoid dealing with my shortcomings, I’m finding far more success emphasizing what works and getting help with what doesn’t.
- Planning Like Crazy – It sounds so simple, but knowing what needs to get done significantly enhances the chance of something actually… you know… getting done. I spent a good amount of my life trying to make things happen by “doing” rather than “planning”, turns out I often did a lot of “wasting”.
- Finding The Right Tools – I spent years using the tools I was given to do my work. It wasn’t until I found the things that best fit the way I like to work that actually doing the work became easier. By finding the tools that best suited me and work well together I’ve removed tremendous friction from my life.
- Learning The Right Things – Continuing education is important, but taking the time to find the right skills to hone makes it essential. In balancing a day job, a blog, a family and now a potential side project, time is tight, so I have to choose what I attempt to learn wisely.
- Talking To The Right People – This is so much more than finding the right influential people (although that helps). I’ve had to find the friends, partners and mentors who are crazy enough to believe in me, know when to push back and, when possible, help along the way.
- Making The Right Sacrifices – The doing of anything requires the not doing of just about everything. We all want to do it all; we all can’t. Or at least I can’t. There will be less TV, there will be less socializing, there will be more work and more stress. This is what it takes to scratch something significant off your list.
- Setting Specific Goals – Deadlines and milestones are a procrastinator’s best friend (or worst enemy depending on how you’re looking at it). They offer the pressure I want and need to get things done. When I’m realistic (yet somewhat aggressive) about what I’m capable of these expectations keep me honest.
- Expecting More From Myself – While I’ve taken the time to get to know my shortcomings, I have no intention of accepting them or at least I’m going to do everything I can not to let them hold me back. I know what I’ve done to date, and I know I can do better. I’m going to set the bar higher and do what I can to get over it.
- Making Forward Motion – No matter how little, how marginal, I try to make some level of progress every single day. Small steps add up over time. I’ll need the big chunks, I’ll need the marathons, but part of making big things happen is continually taking little steps.
While I’m sure several of my friends will finish many of the things on their list, I’m just going to obsess on the few things happening right now. If I’m lucky and work hard enough, I might just manage to make it happen…
It’s always good to think about what you want to accomplish with your life, but don’t forget to take a good hard look at what you could be doing better in the present. Because the best way to knock something off your bucket list is to do it now.
What are you doing to make your bucket list a reality?