There are several things I wanted to do in 2014 but didn't. I intended to write a monthly message to post on my web site; I posted only two--for March and July. I wanted to increase the number of opportunities I had to speak. While I delivered my message to some new audiences, the number of engagements stayed the same. I wanted to complete my conversion to a healthier diet; I slipped back into eating what tastes good and was easy to get. I wanted to wrap up a couple of legal matters on which I am working; I made no progress on either. I wanted to complete a large needlepoint project; I am about half way finished. I wanted to make a major dent in getting rid of stuff that is stored in the house and garage; minor work was done with no evidence of a dent.
I know what happened. I failed to do what it takes. I failed to research when more information was needed. I failed to plan when multiple steps were involved. I failed to set priorities when there were multiple obligations demanding my attention. I failed to dedicate the appropriate time when continuity of effort was required. I failed to maintain focus when distractions appeared. I failed to rejuvenate when I lacked motivation. I did some of the things I should have done, but I didn't sustain my efforts.
Are you doing what it takes to get what you want?
We have begun a new year on the calendar--2015. It is an ideal time to reflect on 2014. Did you get the things you wished for? Did you accomplish what you planned? Did you benefit from the unexpected?
The new year is also a great time to think about what you'd like your life to be in the next twelve months--at home, at work, at school, with family, with friends, physically, mentally, spiritually, financially. Make your resolutions. Set your goals. Dream your dreams. Imagine your future. It doesn't matter whether you call it a resolution, goal, desire, wish, or dream, whatever you want to get this year, you must do what it takes. Ideas materialize with action. Goals are achieved with action. Wishes and dreams are realized with action. Your action.
If you want to look back on 2015 to celebrate your accomplishments, you must do what it takes.
Know what it takes. If there is a way to get what you want, you must learn that way. To whom is it available? What are the prerequisites? How do you initiate the process? How much time will it take? What tools and materials will you need? What is the cost? What resources outside your own are available?
In 2014 I had the idea of teaching speech communication at the local community college. I expected that my twenty-three years of professional speaking, my successful mentoring of students to win statewide speech competitions, and my degrees from Yale and the University of Southern California law school would qualify me to teach. I was wrong. I did not meet the minimum qualifications as published by the college. Knowing this, I am forced to think again--whether I want to teach at the community college and, if so, whether I want to pursue a master's degree in communication as the college requires. Knowing what it takes helps you to make adjustments and/or make plans.
Plan a course. When the steps needed to get what you want have a defined order, a plan will ensure that you take those steps in the right order. For example, to be a lawyer does not begin with taking the bar. You must obtain an undergraduate degree, complete law school, and pass the bar. Once you know what it takes, you can plan the necessary steps in the right order.
If what you want does not require that steps be taken in a certain order, a plan will help you to be efficient in accomplishing your goal. The plan will provide the guidelines for utilizing your time and resources. For example, working for a few years while taking courses at a community college might be a better plan than spending $60,000 a year at a university when you are uncertain about your major field of study.
On a more mundane level, you can save money if you plan visits to see friends or relatives during the times when airfares are lowest.
Your plans don't have to be in writing. Only occasionally have I written my plans. The purpose of writing is to establish a point of commitment and to maintain a tool for reminding you of your plans. If you can commit and remember without writing, you don't have to write.
Set priorities. We make our resolutions, goals, wishes, and dreams at the beginning of the year with the hope and expectation that all things will be favorable for us. However, things rarely go exactly as we plan them. Setting priorities offers a method for making adjustments when the unexpected occurs. If you over commit your time, the priorities you set will allow you to choose to do what is most important. The same is true when your resources run low and are not enough to carry out everything you planned.
Recently I had house guests from out of the country for about two and a half weeks. They came at the same time I was tutoring a student for a calculus final. The final exam could not be postponed, so I informed my guests that they would have to entertain themselves for a while. My priority was tutoring over entertaining. You might have handled it differently. If your priority is to entertain guests, you might find a substitute tutor. There is no right or wrong to your priorities.
Not procrastinate. Even with plans and priorities, procrastination can steal your time, weaken your resolve, and defer your dreams. We tend to put things off when we perceive them to be hard or unpleasant. Usually, delaying doesn't make it better. Doing what it takes means not putting off until tomorrow what you can do today. (You probably have heard that before.) Of course, if your plans call for starting the diet tomorrow, tomorrow is fine. However, if your plans call for starting your diet today, don't procrastinate.
Maintain focus. Your focus is the concentration of your thoughts, your time, and your efforts. Anything or anyone that occupies your thoughts, takes your time, or demands your efforts can cause you to loose focus on the things that you want to get this year. Even though you have made your resolutions and wishes and set your goals and priorities, other people and things will demand your attention. Ultimately, the other things are governed by other people, so in reality, it's just other people demanding your attention. It is likely that they don't know or care what you want. They care about what they want. Don't let their interests keep you from pursuing yours.
Here are some things that can cause you to divert your focus from your dreams, aspirations, and goals: Working; socializing--personally or virtually; recreation and games; television, movies, pleasure reading, and other forms of entertainment; sleeping, napping, and resting. None of this is bad in and of itself. In fact, you should plan time for all of it. It is a distraction when it takes time away from the things you need to do to complete your plans and achieve your goals.
Rejuvenate. Along with a new beginning comes excitement, enthusiasm, and energy. The initial burst of zeal may get you to your short-term goals. However, to get through the entire year, you must have a source for rejuvenescence--i.e., a source for regaining your youthful verve. You need stamina when the trek is fatiguing. You need encouragement when you encounter disappointment. You need motivation when you face challenges. If you don't have a source for rejuvenescence, you are likely to quit when you get tired or discouraged.
Comply with the law. Doing what it takes should not be interpreted to mean by any means necessary. Laws are established to govern a civilized society, so be civil and stay within the law.
Love. As a principle, love is the unselfish interest in the well-being of others. As applied in reaching your aspirations and dreams, it is to (1) do no harm to others as they pursue their dreams and (2) help and support others along your way.