Keep-on-keeping-on

Keeping on keeping on.

Perseverance. Discipline. Self-control,call it what you like, but the ability to stick with something throughout all the ups and downs, through the passionate jungle lands and long treks through the dry deserts of pure hard work, is a special skill.

Gary Vaynerchuk calls it his hustle.
Nike uses the slogan “Just Do It”.

Whatever you want to call it, it’s all about keeping your head down, shoulder to the grind stone and nose in the dirt.

It’s about Action.
About Grit.

But remaining focussed and committed and to maintain the belief that your plans will succeed is one of the primary factors for success. It’s also one of the things I seem to struggle with the most.

I feel like I have a ton of potential (I love and hate this word), I have dreams and things I see myself being able to achieve. And I get that it’s hard for everyone – if it was easy we wouldn’t be drawn to the GaryVees of the world, because we’d all be getting it right anyway.

It’s frustrating though. This is more a rant than a 5 steps to making your hustle work. Honestly, I’m not sure how to. I have all the theoretical knowledge – at the very least, enough to get started – but somehow somewhere I just can’t or don’t. My head goes blank whenever I have free time, but when I’m busy, then it’s filled with all the cool things I could or should be doing.

I’ve got Trello boards filled with ideas. And cool shit I want to do. Overload and too many ideas is probably a real issue here. Busy-ness too. Distraction for the sake of distraction.

And Fear.

Fear of losing. Fearing of success. A whole lot of fear. There’s a thousand reasons why not. I’m doing my best to push through it – but the noises are loud. The excuses many. And the distractions innumerous.

Our minds are weird things. What I long for the most, I seem to do everything to avoid achieving. Every little issue that I could formulate to stop myself getting somewhere I will. It’s annoyingly frustrating.

I’m determined to get there, but it’s really hard to see the wood for the trees sometimes.

I think through all the struggling and reading and listening to podcasts, talking to friends, thinking and watching others succeed and how they did it, I’m starting to formulate some kind of a way forward. Some way to hack my way to the surface.

I know I said this isn’t a 5 steps post, but maybe it is..

I think the keys points are :

1. Work hard and smart. Cliche I know. But for me, I’m always “working” but really I’m usually not. I’m distracting myself with something. Often times it’s aimlessly scrolling through facebook. Or going through newsletters and clicking interesting posts that I’ll probably never read because I open too many and then save them all to Pocket or Evernote in the hopes that one day I’ll go through them but never do.

So I need to start working. Actually working. On something. Anything. Even if it’s scary.

This means planning or giving myself a task. That’s important – preparing my mind for work. Just sitting down and then going ok I need to work here’s the work let’s go never really works. At best I end up writing about it (queue this post) at worst I end up lost in my Facebook news feed hitting refresh in the hopes I’ll be entertained.

2. Treat everything as an experiment. That way if you fail, it’s not really failing – it’s simply data that can be taken and used to rinse repeat. Success is the same – data. Rinse repeat- see what I’ve done right or wrong and how I can make it better.

What I can use to make it work for me. Because otherwise, honestly both ‘success’ and ‘failure’ can be a trap that leads to stagnation, which is failure. As with most things in life, annoyingly, we’re always moving. Either it’s positive or it’s negative but it’s almost never still.

3. Break the work into smaller pieces. The big tasks always overwhelm. I end up staring at it for 10minutes then checking Facebook and remembering 30min later that I was actually doing something. Especially if it’s something new or hard or that I’m not 100% comfortable with.

Breaking things into bite-sizable bits helps me be able to figure out in my head exactly what I need to do then get on and do it. It creates small actionable bits for each piece of the work. Solve one piece then move on to the next. Rinse repeat and soon the project is done. Elephants and single bites and all that.

Sometimes what happens is that I don’t break things down small enough, and so I end starting something and then not getting anywhere – so what helps is whenever you start a task, see if it can be broken down further – and rinse-repeat this until you can knock off each task easily and gather a nice momentum through the work.

4. Plan everything. This ties heavily into #3. The only way you’ll be able to break a project down into actionable bits is by taking a few minutes out to plan. I’m always the most productive when I plan first. Planning gives me a good overview of what I need to achieve overall, it makes sure that I haven’t missed anything and then it allows me to break the project into smaller tasks and catch anything that I might need to consider or plan for down the road.

5. Focus. Focus is insanely important to achieving anything. It’s the ability to keep on at a task or project without being distracted by all the miriad distractions that abound – especially when your work depends on being so heavily connected. Always online, always available. This is where a good plan goes a long way. Knowing what you want to achieve and how you’re going to go about doing it is a fantastic way to encourage focus and discourage procrastination.

6. Get Started. Just Do It. The Art of The Start. Hustle. All the gurus are saying it. It’s the hardest part – just get going. Just start. Just do the fucking thing. Why is it so scary? All the reasons above – fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of well pick something and it’ll jump in and distract. Simply get started.

I’ve found the best way to start is to define what you want to achieve. Set your goal. Any goal. If you don’t know where you want to end up – then at least decide where you want to be in a month. Define what you want to achieve – it’ll probably change anyway – but get it down. Then using planning, break it down into smaller chunks, and as I’ve said above-  it makes it less scary, gives you something to focus on now. Something achievable. And something that ties into a bigger picture. It’s your roadmap. You’re paving the road as you go, but in the back of your head you know where you’re going.

These are some of the tools I’ve used -and I’ve found really helps with getting me onto a project and productive quickly. There’s almost definitely a few more.

I know them and yet they’re still so difficult to use. Usually it’s because I think of something rad, get scared then forget the process and don’t get anywhere – so having it here written down will hopefully serve as a much needed reminder.

And hopefully it’ll help you to get going on whatever dreams and goals and side projects you have in your heart to do.

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