Let’s say an old friend called you up today and said, “I have a couple extra tickets for a group trip to the Bahamas. My boss is flying us down on his private jet, we’re staying at his villa right on the beach, you can bring a friend and it won’t cost you a dime.” Right now you’re thinking, Okay, let’s go! But then your friend says, “We leave tomorrow morning at 8am.” Your brain immediately starts thinking about all the things you’d have to do before you can leave and you ask the friend if you can call him back and let him know.
You wonder how you’ll possibly get it all done in time. Right away you start making a list of all the things you have to do, then you rank them in order of priority. You delegate some of the responsibilities to others, and plan out how and when you can get the rest done. You call your friend back and say, “You know what, my schedule just cleared up for tomorrow. See you on the tarmac!”
If this scenario were true, you would probably accomplish more in one day than you usually do all week. So why don’t you go to the Bahamas tomorrow—every day? List all the things you have to do in the next three days and act as if you only have one day to get it all done. This will force you to think, plan and delegate before you start working.
People often complain about a lack of time, but what they are really lacking is direction. By changing general goals or “to-dos” into specific self-direction, you can accomplish so much more than you usually do, allowing you to go to the Bahamas—or anywhere else you want to go—in the tomorrows of your life.
Procrastination is a habit, but it only takes three weeks to create a new habit, one that involves getting the most out of every day. By immediately taking care of the things you have to do, you will have much more time to do the things you want to do. Time can be an ally or an enemy—it all depends on your determination to use it fully.
I find that writing things down—goals, to-do lists, reminders—keeps me organized and makes it possible to achieve more. Be as specific as possible in your goals and set a timeline for yourself. No one else is going to hold you accountable—you have to be your own referee, coach and cheerleader. That means admitting when something didn’t work, figuring out how to do it better next time, and giving yourself a pat on the back each time you make progress, rather than punishing yourself when you don’t do something you needed to.
This kind of self-discipline takes a lot of practice, and for that reason it’s something you should try to teach your kids at a young age. For kids, pretty much everything they do is based on someone else holding them accountable. They do their homework because if they don’t, their teacher will discipline them. They do their chores because if they don’t, their parents will discipline them.
When they grow up, however, there won’t always be someone there to hold them accountable. That’s why it’s important for you to set the example that doing things you don’t necessarily want to do has its benefits. If you live every day to be as productive as possible, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to sit on a beach—and do nothing.
Contributed by Author of Black Belt Parenting and Action Karate Master instructor Solomon Brenner