How To Do Things Above Average

Changing your life requires a massive mindset switch. But you don’t have to start that big just yet. Let’s say you would just like to try working on a specific project for yourself. Like writing a book, or starting a blog.

Well, then you’re on the right path. Showing up and getting to work is much easier than changing your mindset. See, you can do one of 2 things:

  • Start with the mindset, and execute. That’s the progressive hard way. You first have to define a ton of variables you will need to succeed. Like your purpose, your values, the actual goal of your change…
  • Give a shot at executing first, worry about the mindset later. You can fake it until you make it. At some point, you will have to sit down and look at why you’re doing all this. But you can decide to just start by trying the practicalities of getting to work.

This article is about the second option. Simply getting to work with practical steps. Here they are.

#1 Show up

Most people don’t even show up. A good rule of thumb in life is to talk more than you do. So instead of talking about all these things you’re planning on doing, pick one and get to work.

Pick one thing and only one. You will be a lot more likely to succeed. Trying to do 10 things at the same time is a recipe for not doing anything. You will block your mind with too many options, and you won’t be able to start anything.

So pick one thing, and set your mind to working on it.

Don’t wait. Pick a day in your calendar where you have free time. Do it this week. Use this time to start working on your project. Show up, sit down, and start working. Try it one day, you’ll see it’s actually not that bad, and you won’t believe you’re actually working on this thing. You might even start feeling a sense of purpose.

#2 Do it consistently

This is the step where most people who bothered showing up, give up. They try to work on their project a couple times, and then they stop.

For 99% of projects, in any area of expertise, this rule is true: the longer the timeframe, the more people give up. Click To Tweet

There is always an adjustment period. But you can’t say it’s too hard if you’ve only tried for a week, or even a month. Set a recurring event in your calendar. Every day, every 2 days, every 3 days. Work at least twice a week on your project, and never skip 2 days in a row. Every single day you know you booked time for your project, show up, and do it.

#3 Keep going even when it gets hard

You might get days where nothing comes out of your brain.

You might get days where you’re tired.

You might get days where you’re just not feeling it.

The list goes on…

Those days are the low days. They’re part of the process, in any project. During these times, think to yourself that this is when most other people give up and never finish.

Even if nothing comes out sometimes, keep showing up. By showing up consistently, you build up the habit of getting to work no matter what. That is a always a good mental skill to have.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit — Will Durant Click To Tweet

#4 Don’t waste time

Humans are not machines, and we need free time. But it is important to make the distinction between a healthy break and waste of time.

A waste of time is a use of time that does not provide a positive output for your self. It’s usually easy to notice when it happens, because we all know when we waste time. We all react differently to it, but we know deep down that we’re wasting time, and we feel guilty for it.

Examples of classic time wasters:

  • Youtube
  • Netflix
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Useless news

A healthy break is a use of your time that doesn’t make you feel guilty about using your time that way. It relaxes you, but it doesn’t make you feel bad deep inside. It creates a positive output.

Examples of healthy breaks:

  • Simply having coffee, doing nothing
  • Reading
  • Exercising
  • Cooking something for yourself or your family

How to transition from time wasters to healthy breaks

Learning how to say no is one of the first steps in getting more healthy breaks.

  • Saying no to online distractions. Do you really need to know what is happening on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and such? Think about it. How does it make you feel? Why do you do it? Do you see it as a healthy or unhealthy habit?
  • Saying no to people. People come at us all the time. They want to get this from you for work, they want to hang out some time… This shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, but definitely as a thing that needs to be prioritised. You will never get to the end of the things if you don’t learn to say no to people. Again, think about it. Do you really wanna hang out after work? Did you not already go 2 days ago? Do you not have that project set for yourself?
  • Saying no to other distractions. Like people, things come at us all the time. At the end of the day, it’s all about prioritising and choosing what requires your attention. 75% of anything that comes at you on any given day is probably not that important. That’s one of the upsides of living in a digital world. In fact, the 25% you should focus your attention on is probably all part of the physical world.

Things that can be ignored and/or disabled:

  • Most emails, texts, online messages
  • Most phone calls
  • Notifications
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.— Warren Buffet Click To Tweet

#5 Don’t rest on your laurels

This is not exactly the same as wasting time. Resting on your laurels means that your project is actually going great, but you get trapped in the comfort of things going in your direction.

Of all the people who made it to the point where their project turned out great, a big percentage will fall in the trap of resting on their laurels. It’s a shame, because it takes a hell lot of work to get to this level, so why not keep it up?

Whether your project is coming to a natural ending or picking up speed on a longer timeframe, don’t just sit there waiting.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you’re just standing there. Click To Tweet

Keep working on your project before you lose the momentum, or switch to another one if you finished it. Keep coming up with new ideas. Don’t go back to where you came from. Keep improving.

Simple but not easy

There you have it. Those tips are all simple at their core. But they all have one thing in common that makes them really hard for most people: execution. At the end of the day, it’s about creating a virtuous circle where you apply these 5 tips at the same time.

It takes training and commitment, but it is well worth it. You only have one life, make something out of it.

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