When was the last time you completed a projected that truly mattered to you? When was the last time you set an important goal and you made it happen?
I mean, doesn’t it feel GREAT to check something off your list or complete an important project or say that something is finally DONE?
To take charge and be the BOSS of yourself and your goals is incredibly motivating.
Yes, of course, it feels amazing. I want you to experience that feeling more often. And to make sure that you really master this ability to finish what you start, AKA follow-through, I’m sharing the steps I use every day in my life and business. These steps create a little acronym that spells boss. B – O – S – S. Because BOSS is who you need to be to follow-through.
Now once you’ve mastered these four steps, you’re going to be way more likely to finish what you start. Okay, lets get started on building that follow-through habit using the BOSS Formula.
STEP #1: B stands for: Be Focused & Specific
Right off the bat, there are two big problems that get in our way of following through. First, most of us are working on way too many things at once. We allow ourselves to be pulled in too many directions. Instead of making meaningful progress on a single project that really, really matters, we wind up feeling constantly overloaded and overwhelmed.
Now the second problem. Oftentimes we are fuzzy about our outcome. Meaning, most of the time, we’re just working hard and trying to keep our heads above water and we don’t have a clearly defined, achievable result that we’re working towards.
The good news here is, we have the power to fix both of these problems. And when we do, we gain some serious momentum and we train ourselves to become a master of follow-through.
The very first step is this; we must FOCUS. Meaning, focus on what’s truly most important. And to be clear – I’m not talking about several things here, I’m talking about choosing just ONE thing. One TOP priority. One single goal.
What is one thing you could focus on (a single project or goal) that, if you finished it, it would make a tremendous positive impact in your life?
If you’re having trouble committing to JUST one thing, I want you to remember this:
If you’re unwilling to commit to one thing, you’re going to likely be distracted by everything.
Now once you’ve decided on the goal you want to focus on, you’re ready to Be Specific. Which means, define what success will look like when you get this done. You have to define what finished looks like. Yes, your goal has to be specific, measurable, and achievable. You should be able to say without a doubt – “Yes, I am finished and I followed through!”
Let’s say your goal is to reboot your health and you say to yourself, “Yeah, I really do want to feel better by the summer.” That, my friend, is vague and a fairly useless goal because it’s not well defined.
On the other hand if you said to yourself “You know what, I really need to reset my health and here’s my goal: for the next 30 days I’m going to eliminate gluten and alcohol and dairy and caffeine.” That’s WAY better right? Of course it is – because it is specific and measurable and achievable.
Your action item right now is to decide on ONE SINGLE goal and to define it in specific, measurable and achievable terms.
You’ve gotten focused and specific about your MOST important goal and now you’ve got to organize your life around achieving it. And in order to do that, we have got to face down the biggest BS excuse we can all use for not following through. You know what that is?
“You know what, I just don’t have the time.”
C’mon now… I know we’ve all said this. And you know what? It’s a pretty sad excuse, because we’re all given the same 24 hours each and every day. It’s just that some people have learned to use their time a lot more wisely.
You and I both know that we always make time for the things that truly matter. So if you want to master your ability to follow-through, remember this.
Meaning, if you don’t decide in advance exactly when and where you’re going to do the work, and have that time specifically blocked out on your calendar, you gotta face it, you don’t care that much about it. It’s not going to happen.
This is not just my opinion. In study after study, researchers have found ONE thing to be true. According to Heidi Grant Halvorson, a professor at Columbia University,
Did you hear that? Double or triple your chance for success? Anyone?!
Open your calendar and decide exactly when and where you’re going to work to bring your top goal to life.
STEP #3: S Stands for “Set NO as Your Default Answer.”
Look, saying “no” to yourself and others is essential to follow-through. This isn’t about being an arrogant a-hole, this isn’t about saying no haphazardly. This is about saying no deliberately and strategically and, of course, compassionately.
You have GOT to give yourself permission to STOP trying to do it all. Stop saying yes to everyone and everything and every new idea. Because here’s the truth; everything you say YES to, means you’re saying NO to something else. In economic terms, that’s called “opportunity cost” and it’s a serious thing.
For example, you go to a bridal shower that honestly, you don’t want to go to, but you say yes out of a sense of guilt and drive hours to get there and spend the entire day regretting your choice. That’s time you can’t ever get back – time you could have spent working towards your goal, or just being with your family, or your kids, or doing something meaningful to move ahead.
Simply allow “no” to be your default response to all new projects, new requests, and new demands on your time.
You also need to say NO to spending hours watching TV or getting sucked into the comparison sinkhole of social media. You say NO to any and all time sucks and energy sucks and non-essentials.
Saying yes to too much only leaves you feeling frustrated, resentful and exhausted, right? It’s not a place from which you can do your best work.
When you train yourself to say yes to less, what you really get is more. More time and more space to do the deep and important work you were born to do. More breathing room. More white space. More freedom. More energy to devote to things that truly matter, like spending time with people you love.
One of the things that stop people from making their default answer “no”, is not knowing how to say no with grace and kindness.
No is a complete sentence. But c’mon now, I mean, let’s be real. If someone writes you an email asking for something and you just type back “no” and hit send, it’s not going to feel that good to you or them.
Here’s a simple and elegant way to say no.
“Thanks so much for thinking of me. While it’s not something I’d like to do, please know how honored I am to be asked.” or I’d rather not, but thank you SO MUCH for thinking of me.”
Elegant and honest, right? Just like you.
Your next action item is to re-examine your projects and your upcoming commitments. Is there anything on there that you can decline or get out of? Now of course, if you do, you’re gonna be classy and elegant about it – but honestly, from this moment forward, if it’s not a hell yes, let it be a hell no, because you and your goal matter.
STEP #4: S stands for “Start Before You’re Ready.”
The one mantra I use to start – especially when the goal or project that I’m working on is a little scary and outside my comfort zone. And that mantra is:
Start BEFORE You’re Ready.
Look. Most of us can talk about or think about an important project for months and sometimes even years before actually doing anything about it. But do not confuse activity with accomplishment.
You see, if you’ve had trouble following through, it’s not a lack of competence that’s holding you back. It is this nasty little fear-based lie that we tell ourselves called, “I’m not ready yet.” It is one of the deadliest, most insidious dream killer around. And if you’re honest, I’ll bet, “I’m not ready yet” has probably stopped you a few times in the past.
Well, my friend, here is the secret you need to know. The world’s happiest and most successful people never feel ready to make a bold move – they just GO! They understand that waiting to “feel ready” before taking action is the worst kind of procrastination.
That is why starting before you are ready is the key to executing like a champ and mastering follow-through. It’s helps you sidestep your fear and drive straight into action-based learning. Because when you stop thinking and you start executing, you literally create this energy that pulls you forward. All of the sudden there are appointments and deadlines and real life progress.
This last step is all about execution, once you get started, don’t stop.
When it comes to follow-through, tenacity matters more than tactics or technique. Be relentless about this, do not stop taking action until you can drop the mic and say, “You know what? This. Is. Done.”
Your last action item. Identify the single most important action you could take right now to execute on your goal – even if you don’t feel ready?
Is it making a phone call? Is it making an outside appointment with some kind of professional? Or perhaps it’s telling a few people you trust about your goal and your commitment to make it happen.
There is no right answer. But, I’ll bet you know it in your heart whatever it is what you have to do. Think about it, get moving, and start before you’re ready.
Let’s review our four key disciplines to being the BOSS and following through.
B: Be Focused and Specific: Choose ONE priority and define your outcome so it’s clear, specific and achievable, Set yourself up to win.
O: Organize Your Time & Schedule It: If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.
S: Set NO as Your Default Answer: No is your default answer to all new requests, eliminate non-essentials, and say yes to less.
S: Start BEFORE You’re Ready: Be relentless and don’t stop taking action until you’ve reached your goal.
And that’s it! Be the BOSS you are and make these four personal disciplines a habit and trouble with follow-through will be a thing of the past.
Do you use a to-do-list? Or, do you not bother because they don’t help you get anything done. For some our to-do-list stares back at us at the end of the day taunting us for not getting anything on it done.
The cleaning part of things is hard to do if you don’t clear the clutter first.
But where do you start? Spring cleaning sounds huge. When things are huge we put them off.
Forget the idea of spring cleaning for now.
There are reasons why your home or office is overflowing with stuff. Notice if any of these sound like you. Are there any of these behaviors you want to stop?
1. You love to shop. Your many interests fuel impulsive buying. And….you forget — or can’t find — what you have, so you buy extras.
2. You always need to be prepared, so you hold on to things “just in case.”
3. You get distracted and often don’t finish putting laundry away, sorting the mail or cleaning up dinner.
4. You are nostalgic and want to remember the awesome concert, theme park, movie or any experience so you keep the tickets, programs, and souvenirs.
5. You are emotionally attached to all those homemade cards your kids made you over the years. Or, you’ve inherited your Grandma’s tea cup collection that you secretly think is ugly but will never use for fear of breaking them.
6. You keep cabinet doors open or keep your stuff on the counter so you can see it…because if you don’t see it, you’ll forget about it. If it is out of sight it will be out of your mind.
7. You promise yourself you’re going to read all those magazine subscriptions and thumb through those retail catalogs soon. So why do you still have the 2010 Holiday Edition of Pottery Barn?
8. Making decisions and trusting yourself to know what is important is hard for you, so it’s just easier to keep everything.
The result? You have piles of “stuff” so high you can’t find what you need. The clutter is beginning to take over your home and your peace of mind.
Forget overhauling your house. Pick one thing to focus on and do it. Here are some coaching questions to help you discover what is important to you.
1. What is the one thing that will bring you peace of mind to have organized? Papers, kitchen pantry, shoes, a drawer in your bathroom, your desk.
This should help….
First, sit or stand in a cluttered area of your home or office.
Next, close your eyes and imagine how the space would look WITHOUT the clutter. That’s right. Imagine it all tidy and clean.
Now open your eyes and notice the mess. Does it really bother you? If not, move on to another cluttered area.
When you start feeling uncomfortable you have hit your sweet spot. Let it really bother you. You may be feeling overwhelm, anxiety, and want to scold yourself. Accept those feelings for only a moment and use them as your motivation.
Before you touch a thing answer the last two questions below to cement the value of organizing this for you. When we understand our values around this we are able to tackle the clutter and stay clutter free longer.
2. If this one thing were organized what would become easier in your life?
If I wasn’t always searching for my left shoe in the morning I wouldn’t have to change my outfit and I would arrive at work on time for once!
3. What is it costing you to not organize this one thing?
My relationships because I blow up at others when I’m frustrated. Or, I’m losing money every month paying late fees because I can’t find my bills and when I finally do it’s way past the due date.
So, just how organized do you need to be?
What’s organized for you might be too organized for one person or not organized enough for another. That’s why ’one size fits all‘ organizing solutions seldom work.
You need to be organized well enough to quickly find the things you use the most when you need them.
It’s that simple.
Finding things you need when you need them fends off overwhelm, chronic lateness and self-sabotage.
Remember, when it comes to organizing we care more about how it works for you than how it looks.