Unlocking the Door to Done

Published by


graphing paper with text

You know that feeling that comes with completion of a task or a project? Yeah, that rush of competence and confidence. Feels good, right?

We all love it and yet we don’t really get enough of it either, do we?

All too often, we feel listless, lethargic, or let down. Mostly because we are the ones letting us down.

Well, guess what, dear listener? I’ve got a shortcut that can help you get started, keep going, and get stuff done. There are five keys to go from “Oh my god, I suck” to “Holy cow, I’m amazing!”

Let’s not waste one more second. Are you ready? Let’s get started!

1. Go first or go home.

When considering how to get stuff done, the best place to start is to determine the best place to start. And that place is the first of something; like the first month of the year, the first day of the week, the first hour you wake up, etc. It has been well studied and researched that January is the month that more projects, goals, and desires get started – January 1 to be precise.

Surveys show forty percent of people make New Year’s resolutions. Problem is about 80% of those goals die by Blue Monday. Blue Monday is the third Monday of January. Turns out people become super depressed and give up hope three weeks into the new year.

Now I know I just told you the best time to start is the beginning of something, like Monday, and yes, Blue Monday is a Monday. But the theory still holds true. Because people begin quitting on Blue Monday.

But not you! You don’t quit when unlocking the shortcut. You are here to develop positive habits to be successful in all things you decide to take on. So, let’s make a few decisions right now to get you in the right frame of mind.

If you’re thinking of starting a new program or project, start in January. It’s the beginning of the new year and you’ll be in a gigantic cohort of new beginners. And being involved with a group of people is always helpful and highly motivating. More on committing to and connecting with others later.

Another great day to start is your birthday, because that is the first day of YOUR new year. And what better way to start a project than on the day you celebrate magnificent you? I know it seems strange to start a new project or program on your celebration day of relaxation, but what a gift you give yourself by kicking off your year with a bang!

When you’re one year older and have better health or greater wealth or stronger relationships, you’ll be proud of your effort and grateful for the achievement. And your future self will thank you for this gift.

But not everything is a huge project or program that can wait to get started in January or your birthday. Sometimes it’s just a regular, mundane, everyday task. And those can be the hardest to start and stick to. So, I have a simple mental shortcut to get you thinking a little smarter about starts.

Change your calendar to start on Monday. Most digital (and print for that matter) calendars in the US, begin on Sunday. Well, most of us don’t really think that way, because most of us work and even if we don’t work, the rest of the world does, and workweeks always start on Monday.

Once you change your calendar to start on Monday, your whole mindset changes. I was surprised when I did it and I am so grateful I did. It helped me see things completely differently. I now look at my workweek as the start of my life week, not something sandwiched between two days off. And it makes my weekends look more like finish lines. It may sound hokey, but I’m telling you, it works. Try it out. See what happens.

2. Make a reservation.

Just like when you want to ensure you get a table for a certain restaurant, you want to make sure you have a specific commitment to the action steps of your goal.

When you call the restaurant to make your reservation, you’d never call and say, “I’d like to eat in the future at your restaurant or maybe the one across the street.” That would be ridiculous and incredibly ineffective.

That’s not how you make a reservation. If you want to ensure you get a table at the restaurant you’ve selected, you say, “I’d like a reservation for 4 people at 7:00pm on Friday, June 17.”

Same thing goes for setting your action steps to reach your goal.

If you want to get yourself in shape because you want to lose 20 pounds before the end of the year, you’d never say, “I’ll exercise more,” because that is not a reservation, nor is it a commitment.

Instead, you make a reservation and say, “I will ride my bike around the neighborhood for 30 minutes starting at 5:30am each weekday.” That is a commitment.

Lose this key and you will find yourself flailing about wondering why your goal is not getting accomplished as quickly as you intended. Not the place you want to be if you want to get stuff done. So always remember to set a time, set a place, and set a cadence.

With this reservation, you’ll find greater freedom in the routine you’ve created, because you won’t have to wake up each day trying to figure out when you will squeeze in this new action you want to accomplish. With a confirmation date and time already set, you’re free to do all sorts of other things whenever you want.

3. Get trigger happy.

In the beginning, these actions can be difficult to establish. Why? Even though you’ve made your reservation, you haven’t built a routine or a habit yet.

One of the best things you can do to ensure you fire off the action steps of your goal is to create a trigger. You’ve probably read either Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg or Atomic Habits by James Clear. If not, here’s the quick and dirty on their ideas.

Find a current habit that you do religiously all the time. Once identified, attach the new habit you want to develop to that current routine. For example, if you brush your teeth each morning, that is a great routine to attach another daily habit you want to create. So, if you’re interested in beginning a meditation routine, do it immediately after you brush your teeth.

And here’s a bonus shortcut for you. You can meditate while you brush your teeth! You get a jump on your new habit, and you gain the additional benefit of some really thorough hygiene. Your teeth will thank you…each and every one of them as you carefully and intentionally think about each one as you caress them with your foamy brush. Ahhhh, that feels better already.

A ride-along habit to complement your new trigger is an idea Katy Milkman presents in her book, How to Change. In it, she recommends you verbalize “implementation intentions.” These are simply phrases that set you up for future success. They’re kinda like a pep talk or a confirmation to yourself.

Here’s the deal. Once you’ve decided to tie your meditation goal to your teeth brushing habit, you make a declarative statement about it. It could be something like, “When I brush my teeth, I will begin my meditation.” Or in the case of starting your exercise habit, you could say, “When I start the coffee maker, I will go for my bike ride.”

4. Have a little fun with it.

We all know that important stuff gets done. But we also know that fun stuff gets done quicker. And that’s because we actually enjoy what we’re doing. If it also happens to be important, awesome!

But of course, not all tasks or projects are fun. In fact, most are not. Like who really likes doing household chores. (Well, some of us do.) But what happens when you add a little music to the situation? Suddenly, you’re rocking out to Guns N’ Roses or dancing with the vacuum to Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Prince, or maybe Right Said Fred is your thing. Hey, I don’t judge all of those artists are awesome!

The thing to remember is whenever you have a task that is less than desirable, try to tie a fun activity to it.

I like to call it “fun bundling.”

Dread going to the gym? Watch your favorite show while running the treadmill. Struggling to get through that training you have to complete for work? Do it by the pool or in the park? Just remember to bring your hotspot so you have Internet access.

If the task is undesirable, try to find a way to make it a little more fun.

5. Go with a friend and get an autograph.

Motivation to keep going can be one of the hardest parts of goal achievement. Some of us are quick out of the gate and sprint hard, but soon enough run out of steam and lose sight of our once-important goal. Others are steadier and more thoughtful about the goal and the methodical steps needed to ensure completion. Kinda like the tortoise and the hare.

Well, if you’re a hare, find yourself a tortoise and share your goal idea with them. They can help you with best practices and encouragement along the way. And if you’re a tortoise, find a hare and find out their best practices for starting quickly. Sharing tips, tricks, and tactics with others is a great way to connect and commit.

Remember before I mentioned the power of groups? Well, even if your group is a group of only two people, that connection creates a bond that pushes and pulls each of you to keep going. And each of you has different skills and knowledge to get the best out of your efforts. So make an effort to find a goal buddy. It’ll make the road smoother and more enjoyable. Hey, more fun bundling!

Anybody interested in a bonus shortcut to keep you motivated? I thought so.

In the case your friend is not able to join you in your quest, ask them for a quote of advice or encouragement to keep you motivated during your journey. Have them write it down and then sign it. Now hang this prized possession in a place where you will see it regularly. I know it sounds silly but seeing your friend’s note will inspire you just like those posters you used to hang on your bedroom walls when you were a kid.

Just like you just knew you would own a Ferrari one day, you’ll see your friends note of encouragement and keep on driving!

Hey, do you know what we’ve just unlocked? We’ve unlocked the power to get more things done quicker, easier, with more fun, and while building better connections with others. Talk about a powerful shortcut.

So how will you use these keys to get things started sooner rather than later? What tiny habits can you tie to your existing routines that will trigger your new behaviors? And who are you going to ask for an autograph to keep you motivated when the going gets tough?

Remember the five keys to start quicker, stay stronger, and get stuff done!

  1. Go first or go home.
  2. Make a reservation.
  3. Get trigger happy.
  4. Have a little fun with it.
  5. Go with a friend and get an autograph.

Your Mindful Moment:

Goals are like going to dinner. You’re going to be more successful if you make a reservation.

%d bloggers like this: