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Living with Enthusiasm 
by Mary Marcdante

 

Day 3

Accomplishing –

Whistle While You Work

 

Would you like more energy to get more done?

  1. Is this a rhetorical question?

  2. Depends on how much exercise I have to do.

  3. If it’s fun, count me in.

  4. Always. I keep a running list of 50 energy-building tips that help me get things done faster and with more fun.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Accomplishing is not just about getting things done; it’s also about the legacy you want to leave behind when you’ve moved on to that grand hotel in the sky. It’s about eliminating resistance to doing what is difficult but needs to be done. It is about increasing joy while doing your tasks. It’s also about reaching for your goals and dreams, including exercising, paying bills, cleaning, going back to school, getting married (or remarried), or starting a business.

     Many of us are so busy procrastinating or fixating on the uncomfortable small stuff, we never get around to planning or living the good big stuff. Today we’re going to focus on getting the small stuff done so when you reach Day 15 – Know What’s Important – you’ll have a sky full of enthusiasm to expand the big picture of your life.

     Moving past your resistance to accomplishing what you consider important can be easier than you think if you put your enthusiasm to work. Enthusiasm turns “I have to” into “I want to” and “I don’t want to” into “I’m doing it anyway” and “It’s not fun” into “I’ll make this fun.” And the trick is learning how to connect your enthusiasm to whatever you want to accomplish.

 

Five Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Accomplishing More

Like many people, Sandy admits that she procrastinates getting certain things done until the lastminute, or not at all. In particular, she hates paying her bills, especially reconciling credit card statements. She wants to use her bank’s Internet bill-paying service but hasn’t had the desire to do all the detail work on the computer to set it up or download the monthly statements.  

     “Just thinking about my bills,” she sighs, “makes me comatose.”

     When the bills come in, she puts them in a pile on top of the corner desk in the kitchen next to the computer, the phone, and a dying plant from Aunt Gretchen. Her three children’s school notes, the rest of the mail, and the morning newspaper also reside on this desk. The cat regularly visits in the morning for a little digging exercise in the plant. And after school, the children use the computer nonstop – doing homework, playing games, or instant messaging with friends until their bedtime. Sandy promises herself, “Tonight I’ll get to those bills after I put the kids to bed and finish writing my report for my committee meeting tomorrow.” After she tucks in the children, she tells herself that she’ll get up early to finish the report because what she really wants to do tonight is get on the Internet and research her new business idea. She and a friend want to start a mentoring program that connects “latchkey” children with “afterschool grandparents” from local Senior Center residents.

     Like many women, Sandy is over-committed and undersupported. We’ll talk more about support systems and asking for help (great tools for getting more done) on Day 20, but there’s another element in Sandy’s life that undermines her enthusiasm and ultimately her success – energy. Sandy’s energy is depleted after her kids are in bed. There’s no creative juice left just for her. She tells herself, “I think I’ll take a little nap.” “Danger, danger,” you and I call out, just like the robot cautioned the adventurous son Will in the TV show Lost in Space (one of my favorites as a teenager). You and I both know where this “nap” is going to lead – or at least we think we know. She’ll sleep straight through the night without accomplishing either project.

     I asked Rita Emmett, procrastination expert and author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook, to help Sandy stop putting off her bill-paying tasks so she could direct that resistance into enthusiasm to further her business idea.  

     Here’s what Rita said: Sandy has a case of the dreads, which slows down or stops many people from achieving their goals. So the first thing she needs to do is acknowledge her dislike for paying bills and decide to do it anyway. The pleasure will outweigh the pain when she’s finished.

     A second procrastination buster is to take one hour to focus only on the task at hand and push away any distractions – nothing but cleaning off the desk, paying bills, and getting the bill-paying service set up. Sandy will probably find it takes less than a half hour to do all that if she stays tightly focused. As well, her enthusiasm for getting the job done will flow over into other aspects of her life.

     A third tip is to determine if she’s a morning or evening person. If she’s a morning person, she may need to go to bed earlier and get up earlier to pay bills. If she’s an evening person, she should take her nap at lunch or right after she gets home for 20 minutes, then do her creative work later in the evening. Her kids, like most others, will adjust to reasonable time limits if she is firm and consistent about setting boundaries.

     Fourth, she needs to create more rewards for herself. She could use her nap as a reward for keeping the bill station and desk organized. 

     Or fifth, she could tell herself she can’t use the Internet for anything else until she sets up the bill-payment service. Sandy has to act as her own wise parent.

     Sandy is sitting – or rather sleeping – on a hidden goldmine that will help her realize her dream of opening her own business and her goal of managing her finances better – her nap. Yes, her nap! Used creatively, a nap easily restores energy. We’ll explore the art and power of napping on Day 8 – Radiating Energy. In the meantime, don’t procrastinate as you answer these two questions:

What one project or task do you put off that you’d like to do with more commitment and enthusiasm?

What one action will you take to move that project or task forward?

 

Make Yourself a Goal Tape to Keep Yourself on Track

My sister Eileen wanted to be a nurse from the time she was a little girl. When she reached college and discovered running, she also decided she wanted to compete in an Ironman Triathlon – a 2.5-mile swim in Hawaii’s ocean, 112-mile bike ride, and 26-mile marathon completed within 17 hours – by the time she reached age 40. Eileen became a nurse at age 22 and competed in her first Ironman Triathlon at age 35. Receiving a nursing degree is a feat in itself (God bless our nurses; I opted out of nursing school when I heard bedpans and catheters were part of the program). Getting to that first Ironman is also a huge triumph.

     To qualify for the Ironman, participants must either be selected in a lottery from thousands of entrants or prequalify in a prior triathlon and come in first in their age group. Eileen trained daily with a friend for the year prior to the race and received coaching from an exercise physiologist.

     Because she didn’t win the lottery, she competed in the prequalifying race. During the five-hour drive to the race’s starting point, she listened to the positive goal audiotape she made for herself a month earlier. In fact, she had listened to it every day to keep herself motivated. The tape included her favorite music and a script she had written and read into a tape recorder. She wrote the script in first person as if she were running the race and doing it perfectly – “I am running at my best, I overcome all obstacles, I finish first in my age group…”

When I race I’m full of doubts...
who will be second, who will be third?
                                              ~ Nourreddine Morceli

     She did it! Eileen qualified for the Ironman! The evening after the race I called her to ask how she did and she said, “Mary, the most incredible thing happened. During that entire race, whenever I felt myself slowing down, I heard the tape in the back of my mind saying, ‘You can do it. Keep going just another ten feet.’ So I did and I came in first! I can’t believe it!

     And more amazing is that generally there are about 15 to 20 seconds between each person at the finish line. But the person who finished second in my age group was 18 minutes behind me!”

     Fast-forward 12 years. Eileen has accomplished these two goals and gone on to expand them. She is now a nurse practitioner at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is also a volunteer women’s running coach for Special Olympics and an accomplished triathlete, having completed eight annual Ironman triathlons and five World Championship triathlons.

     Like Eileen, you have the capacity to accomplish whatever you set out to do. Make a commitment to your goal and recommit to it on a daily basis. Not easy, but definitely worth it.

What I’ve learned in my years 
as a competitive wheelchair athlete is this
– 
what separates a winner from the rest of the pack 
is not raw talent or
physical ability; 
instead, it is the drive and dedication 
to work hard every
single day, 
and the heart to go after your dream, 
no matter how unattainable
others think it is.
                                             
~Linda Mastandrea

 

Today’s Action Step

Make a list of five things you’ve been procrastinating about. Rate them in order of importance. Cross off #5 (this is called professionally putting off what is least important) and circle #1 (this gets you focused). Write down three things you can do to move that project or task forward. Do one before the end of the day today.

 

Tips for Creating More Enthusiasm

  •  Ask for help. Find a friend to do your task with you. (See Day 20.)

  •  Smile, sing, hum, or dance while you’re working. It makes your body think it’s happy.

  •  Practice the END method for any task – eliminate, negotiate, or delegate.

  •  Make a “positive goals” tape and listen to it in the morning and evening, and during times when you need a burst of energy.

  •  Make a list of ten small “accomplishment” rewards that can be done in five minutes or less. Choose from the list each time you finish one step of your task or goal.


Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What is your most productive time of day?

  • Where are your most productive places?

  • What is one of your favorite daily tasks to do at home?

  • What is one of your proudest accomplishments?

  • What is one of your favorite ways to reward yourself?


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Copyright 2003 Mary Marcdante
mary@marymarcdante.com