Making Time to Make It Happen

by Sep 22, 2011Career Design34 comments

How do you turn a dreamer into a doer?

Not long ago, I asked people on my Facebook page to suggest topics they’d like me to cover on the blog.   One that comes up a lot, not just for career changers but for anyone who has big goals on their list is: how do I find the time to make it happen when I’m burdened with so many other activities?

Chances are, you’re not going to like my answer.

But look at it this way.  You can get standard productivity advice anywhere.  This is the one secret I’ve found that works for everything from losing weight to publishing books to making a successful leap into a new career.

And the best part?  It’s sooo easy.

Well, sort-of.  Let me explain.

My super secret advice on achievement

Remember the last time you fell in love?  In those heady days, your love interest was probably all you thought about.  You stayed up late, talking for hours on end.  You blew off your friends when they wanted to hit the bars and you never even vaguely considered watching television (not when you could stare into the pools of your lover’s eyes!).

You probably put off a lot of things that needed to be done, because those tasks just didn’t seem that important any more.

It’s the same way with your dreams and goals.

When you fall in love with your future self (the one that exists after you’ve turned your dream into reality), you’ll find you have all sorts of free time and energy.  That kind of focus isn’t sustainable, of course, but it’s a pretty necessary first step.  Why?

Because achieving your big dreams and goals is hard, gosh darnit.

And if you aren’t in love with the idea with a capital L, you’ll give up way too soon or get distracted, maybe before you even really get started.  You won’t plan.  You won’t focus.  You won’t keep pushing past the little voice that squeaks, “I can’t take any more fear!”

You’ll tell yourself you didn’t really care about that dream anyway and move on to something else (like vacuuming your car seats).

Love redefines your priorities.  Love eats up those early results and rides high on momentum.  And when you’re in love, you don’t cheat.

The problem is that many people think they’re committed to an idea or goal when they really aren’t.  They’re flirting, sure, but the relationship isn’t serious (and they aren’t making any progress, either).

If you want to go after your biggest goals, you’re going to have to fall in love (all over again).  Here’s how.

5 ways to rekindle the romance

Okay, here’s where the analogy ends.  These are not good ways to get romantic with your significant other, but they’re great for putting your biggest ideas on the top of your to-do list–and keeping them there.  Not every tactic will work for everyone.  Try the one that appeals to you most.

1. Get disgusted

For months I tried to lose the baby weight.  And for months, the number on the scale just kept going up.

Then, while complaining to a co-worker about my dilemma, she said, “I know what you mean!  I knew I was fat when I had to wear size X pants.”  It was, in fact, the size pants I was wearing.

Until that moment, I hadn’t thought of myself as fat.  In fact, no one who looked at me called me that.  Carrying more weight than I should, sure.  But when I heard that comment, a switch flipped in my head.  I was disgusted with myself, but not for much longer.

I immediately enrolled in Weight Watchers and, to my surprise, had no trouble at all sticking to the plan.  I lost over 30 pounds in 4 months.  The reason?  Because I was suddenly more in love with the idea of wearing pants several sizes smaller than I was eating a doughnut.  It’s that simple.

2. Make a bet

If you’re the competitive type, making a bet (with a real person, not yourself) can be a great way to get motivated.  The bet can be literal, preferably with someone whose opinion you value.  Or it can be unstated.  This is often what a trainer or coach offers, among other things.  No one wants to fail their mentor.  When I get serious about getting in shape, I hire a personal trainer.  It’s amazing how much faster I run or how many more push-ups I’m able to do.

3. Daydream overdrive

Daydreaming is not only fun, it can be a useful tool too.  When I wanted to get my first book of poems published, everywhere I went, I would daydream about how it would feel to finally get that call from a publisher: on the treadmill at the gym, driving to work, washing the dishes.  Basically, any time I could turn off the thinking part of my brain, I was daydreaming about getting published.

Let me be clear: I’m not a believer in the Law of Attraction.  The only reason this method works is because the daydreams motivate you to work hard and stick with it in the face of adversity.  When I’d submit my manuscript for publication and get (yet another) rejection letter, those daydreams let me believe that my day would come.  I kept trying.  And sometimes, that’s what success is all about: persistence.

4. Taste it

Do you know what the most intoxicating thing is for an entrepreneur?  The first sale.

It doesn’t have to be big.  In fact, what often holds dreamers back is that they keep planning for the mega-strategy instead of jumping in and earning their first small win.

Success is a lot like chocolate (or whatever your food fetish).  One taste, and you’ll be willing to do a lot to taste it again.

5. Hold hands

Okay, here’s a big secret: this blog almost ended before I really gave it a chance.

I fell in love with blogging from the minute I started.  But about 8 months in, I was starting to have my doubts.  My growth was so slow, I thought it was going to take 10 years to get to the place I wanted to be.  It didn’t help that most of my friends were scientists and they all thought blogging was a bit … weird.

Then I went to BlogWorld, an annual convention of bloggers, where I made a ton of friends and met some mentors who understood my hopes and fears, and better yet, encouraged me.  That support propelled me to far greater success than I was imagining at the time.  Never underestimate the power of community.

Make love, not time

We all get the same amount of time each day.

When someone tells me they don’t have time to pursue a big goal, I know the problem is one of two things: the goal isn’t a priority or they don’t have a strategy for accomplishing it.

But one of those is a lot easier to overcome than the other.  Because if you’re in love with your idea or goal, you’ll eventually find someone who can help you build a strategy.  But the best strategy in the world still feels like a grind if you’ve fallen out of love with your dreams.

It happens. Most people start a career thinking they’re going to love it.  Most people go into business for themselves thinking it will solve all their problems.

We think we can wait it out and the love will return.  But it won’t.

You either need a new dream or renewed vows.  What you probably don’t need is more time.

I love what Chris Guillebeau said in this interview about following your passion

My observation, which tends to elicit a range of responses, is that balanced people don’t usually change the world.

He’s not just talking about the world  at large, but your world as well.  Love isn’t reasonable or balanced, but it is amazingly effective.

Forget about those platonic goals and tasks.

Find a dream you can give your heart to.

The heart it gives you in return will change everything.

Editor’s note:  Want to find a career you can love?  Time is running out.  Enrollment for the No Regrets Career Academy ends at midnight, US Pacific time, on Saturday.  Don’t get left out!