One of the top questions I get emailed (alongside these) is how to be successful. To be honest, I don’t think success is ever something ever reached, only chased– at least for me. There are little check-in points for me where I can say, “Okay, good. Still on the right track,” or, “Ah, got to readjust a little bit.”
And as I’ve been getting older, I’ve kind of been trying to figure out what is the differentiation between a success moment and a not-so-successful moment. Really, I’ve been trying to figure out what that thing is that makes it work. It wasn’t actually until this weekend that it started to make sense.
I was explaining to a friend that I really do give myself weekends off, but I kick back into working at 5pm on Sunday. That ensures that I a) enjoy the weekend and b) have a better Monday. My friends know that when we make plans, I’m in as long as I can be back at my desk by 5. It’s a little rigid, but I do it every week. Then I was talking to Garrett how I sometimes feel scatterbrained and all over the place, but he reminded me that I always get everything done.
I think… my success secret is very simply… doing what I say I’m going to do, when I say I’m going to do it.
It doesn’t mean that sometimes things aren’t last minute or hectic or stressful, but they get done. Come hell or high water, a way to finish will be found. Even though it’s a simple concept, there are key components to a proper follow through!
1) Redefine success // I typically start with the biggest vision and then go from there. It rarely ends up being exactly how I think it should be in an ideal world, but done is better than perfect. When good enough is good enough, it’s good enough. I definitely can get stuck trying to get things just right, but when push comes to shove, I have to get it done. I don’t want my perfectionism getting in the way of me getting things done.
2) Prioritize // If I commit to something, I don’t want to disappoint myself or the other person by saying yes and then later backing out. This means that I have to be way better about saying no outright. Saying no isn’t a bad thing– I have to remind myself this ALL the time. Saying no now is definitely a lot better than saying yes and not being able to fulfill. However, I find this to be the most challenging thing. I never want to let people down! Reminding myself that I’m preventing myself from letting them down by saying no upfront is helpful.
3) Be On Time // My trick for getting to places on time is to the take the “arrival time” and immediately subtract 10 minutes (#thebuffer). I continue subtracting different times it takes to do things. 5 minutes for locating an office in an unfamiliar building. 25 minutes for a subway ride. 5 minute walk to the subway…. etc. Sometimes I even throw in another buffer time if I’m really nervous, or if the weather is bad, etc. Also, I find that this takes as much self-control as it takes planning. You can do all the time planning in the world, but if you click the snooze button or find yourself in a Pinterest black hole of distraction…. you’ll be late!!! And, sadly, sometimes it takes compromising to make it somewhere on time. Things can (and likely will) cause issues. You might have to skip the curling iron or skip the trip to Starbucks to get there on time.
This is more than showing up somewhere on time, it also applies to submitting a project or assignment on time.
4) Determine Hard Deadlines/Next Steps // While some things have deadlines built in (exams, projects, events), somethings are a little bit more open-ended. I find that it’s a lot harder to follow through with something if I say, “I’ll get back to you!” It’s so much better for me to say, “I’ll send you that email by Wednesday night.” A) The next step is an email and B) There’s a specific timeline now. The person knows when to expect a response and you know when (and what) you have to deliver.
4) Stay Organized // If I don’t record the deadline, I will forget. Almost always, I will forget. I set reminders in my calendar and write down action steps for getting everything done. If it can be done in five minutes, I’ll try to do it immediately. But if it takes longer, I’ll map out what needs to happen, when for a completed, on time project. This also really helps me set better deadlines. If I see that I have a few things “due,” I’ll know I can’t commit to other projects around the same time and try to negotiate a different time. Besides the reminders and the dates in a master calendar, I also keep a running list of things to complete on a notepad so I can cross it off and have a visual understanding of accomplishment!
What’s your success secret? I love hearing about what gets other people through the finish line!