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Last night, a friend of mine (let’s call him Jameel) took me to his mentor. He was going to get some business advice and wanted someone to tag along for the ride. Having nothing to do for the rest of the day, I decided to go. After waiting for about an hour at his office, we finally got that chance to meet him: A simple looking guy (supposed to be a guru in his field) with a twitchy left eye.

Jameel and his mentor talked for about half an hour or so, and I sat there quietly nodding my head. To be honest, the entire discourse was quite engrossing and truly inspiring to say the least. But if there is one thing that clicked (and that I’d like to share it with you guys) is his reply to my friend’s doubts of failure.

“I am doing everything right,” asked the now vulnerable Jameel, “but there is this looming fear, this doubt that is eating me alive. What should I do about it?” “I am not the kind of person you should be asking this question,” was the reply. “I have never had the fear of failure so I don’t know what to say to you. All I have ever done in my life is done each day’s work to the best of my abilities. That’s it, and I would advise you to do the same.”

“Will you succeed?” He went on. “Will you fail? No one can guarantee that. That is something out of your jurisdiction. Even if you do everything right, there is still a chance that you might fail. And even if you do fail, then what? Will the Earth shatter? Or will the skies fall over? Businesses fail, that’s the fact of life and you should be strong enough to take that bet.

Either you do everything right, one step a time, one task a day and trust the journey and increase your chances of success. Or you keep on obsessing about the future, fretting about failure, instead of doing the actual work and increasing your chances of failure.

Your best bet is to do each task to the best of your abilities and leave the rest to God.”

The reason this mini-speech hit me is because that is exactly what I did to become a better person than I was a couple of years ago. And even if you’re not a proponent of fate or a believer in God, there’s a practical truth to what the mentor said. In fact, the great stoics also had a similar approach to life.

“Do right. Do your best. Treat others as you want to be treated.” – Lou Holtz

What did the ancient stoics say?

Stoics are proponents of Stoicism, a philosophical school of thought that believes human virtue lies in knowledge, and the wise are the ones that are at peace with providence (good or bad).

The great stoic Epictetus put forth his “dichotomy of control” illustrating that the world is divided into things that are in our control (thoughts, emotions, and actions) and things that are out of our control (possessions, looks, or privilege).

If you carefully differentiate the things that are in your control from the things that are not, you influence the things that are in your control to make your life the way you visualize it. You also stop worrying about things that are not under your control. You come to realize how pointless it is and that saves you a great deal of time and energy.

Putting the philosophy into practice

What’s the point to philosophy when there is little to no practicality when it comes to actual meaningful changes in your life? That is exactly why I am a strong proponent of Stoicism as it is the most practical of all philosophies.

Still, being stuck in a place for too long tends to make it difficult to get out and one needs a little more than philosophy to get one out of the mess. 

Here are a few practical steps that I took to make my life a little bit better:
1. Write down your goals

I know how big of a cliché this is, but there’s a reason why it is such a big cliché, it works. Take out a pen and a paper, and write down all of the things you want to achieve.

Think of something that you want to do or need to do. It can be anything from your homework to an art project or maybe as trivial as cleaning up your room. List out as many things as possible.

“Everybody has their own Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.” – Seth Godin

2. Prioritize your goals

Divide them based on priorities. An assignment due this week should be at the top, an art project, a bit lower.

3. Break them down

Break down each goal into little ones that you know you can easily accomplish. Make sure to also spread them across a few weeks or months (depending upon the estimated time for the project).

For example, if your goal is to read a book. Don’t force yourself to read a hundred pages in one go because that’s plain stupid. Think about it this way, if you want to become a swimmer, would you simply dive into a sea or would you first start learning in a pool?

Start by reading 10 pages a day. After a week, turn it up to 12 or 15 a day and keep on increasing each week until you have reached your goal of reading 100 pages a day.

4. Become accountable

The ultimate goal is to live a better life and to do that we have to take one step at a time and for that we require consistency. How do you ensure consistency in productivity?

Here’s how I did it:

At the start of my freelancing career, I only took projects when I felt like it. Some months I’d earn more while on others I’d be asking for financial help. After months of going nowhere and almost sabotaging my career, I decided to do a simple thing that changed everything for the better.

I committed myself to writing 1000 words a day, except weekends, for the entire month. This was an easy goal because there were days when I wrote 2500-3000 words a day when one of my deadlines was tight.

The idea was to become consistent. To keep track of it, I decided to create a simple spreadsheet on google docs. The first couple of days were easy because I was feeling motivated. The third day was a bit difficult because I was losing motivation. The magic happened on the fourth day when I didn’t feel like doing the work but ended up doing it because of the sheer fact that I had to report it on my spreadsheet.

At the end of this little experiment, I had earned more than I had ever earned in a month. If there is anything that I would like you to take away from all this is to set yourself a goal every night and complete it every day without fearing the outcome.

Do you have any tactics on how to become more productive? Share them with us below!

Read more: addicted2success.com

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:
1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

Read more: addicted2success.com