Here’s a simple question to get you started. There are three monkeys sitting on a tree, above a pond. One of the monkeys decides to jump into the pond. How many monkeys are left on the tree? Two? Wrong.
The right answer is three. You see, the monkey only made the decision to jump into the pond. It didn’t actually jump! If you think about it, we are all like that. We take decisions. We make resolutions. But somehow, we don’t follow through with action. Intent without action is quite useless, really. Getting started – taking that first step – is often the master key to success. As someone once said, you don’t have to be great to get started. But you sure have to get started to become great!
Do you find yourself struggling to take action on your plans and intentions? Well, here’s a five-point programme to help you move from intent to action.
Make a beginning?
The right away. Whatever be your goal, take the first step – however small – right away. Until you take that first step, your mind does not believe you. You need to signal yourself that you are serious, that you mean business. Commit to taking action, immediately. Today. Now.
Break up the grand plan into smaller tasks
Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Sometimes the task ahead looks so enormous that we feel overwhelmed that we don’t do anything about it. Break that up into smaller sub-tasks, and suddenly you’ll find something that’s doable. Remember that old adage -‘Something is better than nothing’. It’s still true.
Think of the pleasure, not the pain
Visualise success. If you want to do an MBA at a premier school and plan to devote three hours a day to studying, don’t think about missing the football game on television, or about not being able to go out for that Saturday night bash. Think instead of the job that you could get post your MBA, the rewards that it would bring, the dreams that would get realised.
Create a support group
Surround yourself with people who share your objective, who are the co-passengers on your journey to success. The excitement of being in it together will help you fight the inertia and get you going with the rest of the gang.
Pay up in advance
For most of us, monetary commitments are a strong impetus for action. The fear of losing money or wasting it, can spur you into action. We follow up on our commitments, if only to ensure our money is well-spent. Plan to lose weight? Pay up for that three-month weight loss programme! Don’t wait.
Bestselling management author Tom Peters tells the story of a man who approached American financer and banker JP Morgan with an envelope and said “Sir, in my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly sell to you for $25,000.”
“Sir,” JP Morgan replied, “I do not know what is in the envelope. However, if you show me and I like it, I will give you my word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.” The man agreed to the terms, and handed over the envelope. JP Morgan opened it and pulled out a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look – a mere glance – then handed it back to the gentleman. And paid him the agreed-upon sum of $25,000! On that sheet of paper, were two things:
Every morning, write down a list of the things that need to be done that day.
JP Morgan benefited from this advice and so can you. Knowing what to do is often easy. We all have our list of things to do. Our plans and our resolutions. Doing it – that’s the tough bit. But that’s the hallmark of successful people. The Nike guys are right. Want to be a winner? Just do it!