How to get things done.

I received a letter from a fan who had the following request:

I read your post called “Australia is still my country” and found something interesting when you said this: 
 
“I probably achieve 5% of what I say I will do, but that is 5% more than most other people manage.”
 
This seems to go against what we people conventionally think about goal setting (or the actual few that set goals). 
 
This resonates with me because I find it difficult to set and accomplish goals. 
 
Would you be able to elaborate more on this? 
The article that he is referring to is one I wrote last year on my arrival in The Netherlands, Australia is still my country. The section that he is interested in is the following:

It’s funny though; on the one hand you can’t just pack up and move your whole family overseas, but on the other hand you can do exactly that. Like every other thing in your life you just make it happen. People that I meet are often amazed when they find out just a fraction of what I have done but the truth is that I don’t do everything that I set out to do. I probably achieve 5% of what I say I will do, but that is 5% more than most other people manage.

I really don’t achieve everything that I set out to do. I reckon that my goal setting would go roughly like this:

The thinking phase. I get 100 different ideas of stuff I want to do, achieve, learn, or experience.

The discussion phase. I discuss 30 of these options with various people. The other 70 disappear into the ether or remain a note scribbled in one of my many notebooks.

The action phase. Of these 30 I maybe get 8 off the ground.

The continuation phase. Of these 8 most fall by the wayside for one reason or another..

The achievement phase. If I get one thing really completed then that’s okay with me.

I have so many different ideas all the time. Here’s a recent one that has got to the discussion stage:

I’ve always wanted to record an album of my best songs. I’ve been writing and performing my own songs since I was about 14. Surprisingly, some of the early ones hold up pretty well. If I were to pick 12 songs from everything that I have written then it would make a very strong album in my humble opinion.

While in Italy the other month I bumped into an old acquaintance who owns and runs his own recording studio over there. He makes a point of purchasing and using very cool analog equipment from the 1960s and 70s. He’s also an outstanding musician. We spoke about my idea, (stage 2 on the above list), and he suggested a few options that we could look at some time next year. He has a lot of musician contacts so I could source a drummer and a trumpet player; the rest I’d do myself.

Will anything come of this? Fucked if I know; there’s a very good chance that it will never even get past the discussion phase.

Some projects I persist with when normally they would have been discarded long ago. My 3rd book is an example of that. I really want to get this done, so a way for me to make sure that it gets done is to keep it in the discussion phase when activity has dropped away. See what I did there?

The point is that over a 30 year period these things all add up. In the moment it feels like you’re not really achieving anything, but a steady plodding along and a constant search for new ideas and inspiration mean that you start to get somewhere.

Don’t get me wrong; you still need to do a lot of hard work. I didn’t learn to speak fluent Italian by sitting around with my finger up my bum. Nor anything else that I have achieved. Things don’t come easily, you have to work at it. This website is an example. I’m going to hit a cool first million views sometime in the next month. That’s an achievement and it will be a nice hurdle surmounted. But take a look on the sidebar and add up the number of articles that I have written. I’ve just got home from a long day at work and then a gym session as well as a peak hour traffic battle, and to tell you the truth I’d rather be sitting down on the couch with a nice cold beer.

Yet here I am typing away, doing my thing, getting on with it, slowly getting things done.

I don’t make lists or anything like that. I do sketch out 5 year plans, however. I think that these are very important. Otherwise the years can just slip away. I’m at the beginning of a new 5 year plan now. I wonder what will happen?

2 thoughts on “How to get things done.

  1. TechieDude

    Just having a hundred ideas to work from puts you ahead of the average mook, who has barely two brain cells to rub together and is lucky to have one or two ideas in a lifetime.

    My continuation phase eats up the lions share of ideas, as I’m usually dependent on someone, usually that I need something from them, and they don’t have the same mindset/momentum that I have.

    Like

  2. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 10.09.18 : The Other McCain

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