A young mom recently told me about her Christmas day experience with her three year old. "She loved opening her gifts but she didn't really want to play with them once she got them opened," she said. "She just kept asking, 'Are there more presents?'" I think this child is much like many of the adults I know, myself included. We enjoy the surprise and newness of a project but lose interest once we must follow through and take action to reach our goal. We can list lots of ideas, goals, New Year resolutions but determining the steps to reach them and then actually taking those steps--there's the challenge! It's easier just to keep opening those gifts, setting those goals.
Brian Tracy in his book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, identifies seven steps to achieving goals. It is one of the best action oriented plans I've seen. Here are the steps:
1. Decide exactly what you want
2. Write it down
3. Set a deadline
4. Make a list of everything that you can think of that you need to do to achieve your goal
5. Organize the list into a plan
6. Take action on your plan immediately
7. Do something every single day to move toward your goal.
Notice that step #6 is "take action on your plan immediately". Here is where I fear many of us become lost. We can identify that New Year's Resolution, write it down, even set a deadline but the last two steps are critical to accomplishing the goal. Also, notice that it doesn't say 'take the right or best or (my downfall) perfect action.' It just says TAKE ACTION! Pretty simple, huh? You can always correct action that is nonproductive. You can fix mistakes. But a goal with no action in any direction is worthless. Much like looking for more presents to open when you haven't taken the time to enjoy the ones you have. Life is a gift. Open it. Enjoy!