Do What You Can Do
How do you know where to start? Which thing should you do first and how do you decide? The best choices are based on your understanding of how to get from your point A to point Z. I know a real estate agent who had a lucrative hobby of buying and renovating houses. Bobbie was successful at it because she had the process down to a science. She could close on a house and remodel it in about four to six weeks—before the first mortgage payment was due. The key to being able to move this efficiently is in knowing the best way to sequence the process. If you have the right plan and execute it in the right order, you can avoid delays or “re-do’s” later. In this case, for example, she knew to schedule the floor tile guy at a certain time so he was not in the electrician’s way. But she didn’t know this the first time she rehabbed a house. It took some trial and error, some investigation and consultation with experts. All of these are action steps that eventually brought her to peak efficiency and effectiveness.
Other processes are not nearly so linear. For instance, in writing this book, I created my vision for the book first. I started out by just writing down my ideas. I put things in order later. I knew that if I worried about the order, I would get stuck. My priority was to get moving so that I wouldn’t get in my own way by getting mentally trapped. The lesson: Sometimes you just need to take the first step; put things in proper order later. Do what you can do.
When I did my Ideal Day exercise, I saw myself doing tai chi and yoga out on the balcony outside my bedroom. Well, at the time, I didn’t know Tai Chi nor did I have a balcony. I could have decided to wait for the balcony, but my first step was to buy a tai chi video and start practicing in my living room once a week. That was my way of putting my foot on the gas—getting on the road headed in the direction of my vision. A few years later, I bought a house. One day during the purchase process I was sitting in the driveway, I looked up and my eyes filled with tears as I realized that my bedroom had a balcony. My dream was being fulfilled.
Start with what you can do now. Pick what makes sense to focus on now. The rest will come when it is time. One note: Pay attention to procrastination. Sometimes it’s more important to leave the kitchen dirty and work on that resume or business plan or give the children the extra attention they need, than it is to get everything on the list done. If you find yourself doing everything else but your priority task, stop, sit with your feelings and see what you are afraid of that is keeping you from doing what is really needed. I often fall into the “I have to wash the dishes first before I can start writing my book” syndrome. Sometimes it is procrastination because of fear, sometimes it is that thoughts and ideas are marinating and need a little more time to gel. Now, I can stop for a moment, check in with myself and see what is going on – then make a conscious decision about what I am going to do.