I had my last session for my last-but-one remaining coaching client yesterday, and he asked me what my Top Ten tips were to keep him on the “straight and narrow” in the future.
My answers were off the top of my head, but I think they are well worth repeating. So here are my top ten ways in which to keep your life moving in the direction you want.
- Be clear about what your major life goals are. You can’t have direction in your life unless you know what that direction is. So be clear where you are going in the major areas of your life, such as work, family, etc. Ideally you just want one goal in each life area.
- When you’ve decided what your major goals are, make a commitment to them. This consists of two parts: what you are going to do as a result of the commitment, and what you are going to stop doing as a result of the commitment. Of the two, the second is the more important and the one most frequently neglected.
- Decide what the ideal structure of your day, week and year would be, and go all out to get it into place. You can’t balance your life effectively without structure, and it’s no good having a structure which you can’t keep up in the long term.
- If you are starting a new business, remember that it must be financed properly. This includes working out what you need to live on during the two or three years before your business becomes profitable. During the first two or so years of a new business, you will put in a lot of work for very little immediate reward. If you are not prepared for this your business will almost certainly founder.
- Always work on identifying the key actions that are going to make the real difference. You can faff around being busy as much as you like, but being busy in itself is not what brings success. Success comes from focussing on the actions that are going to take you and your business forward.
- Keep moving. The biggest reason why people don’t get projects completed is because they fail to keep moving on them. A project is like a house plant. Water it daily and it will thrive. Neglect it and it will die.
- When you give yourself a specific amount of time to work on something, keep to the allotted time to the minute. Stopping dead leaves you wanting more. Trailing on until you run out of ooomph means you have run out of ooomph.
- Being able to estimate how long a project or a task is going to take is a very valuable skill, and one which very few people have. You can greatly improve your skills at this by writing down your estimate of how long you think a task or project will take, and then comparing your estimate with how long it actually does take.
- If you are having difficulty getting started on something, then focus on the first step. Make the first step small enough so that you can easily do it. Once you’ve taken the first step, then it’s much easier to keep going.
- Take time out to weed your commitments on a regular basis. Never forget that if you have more commitments than you can cope with, some of them (possibly all of them) are going to get done badly. If you take on a commitment which you don’t do properly, the time you do spend on it is wasted. You would be better off using that time on doing your most important commitments really well.