Let’s say you’re out walking your dog (no dog? No problem. We’re playing makebelieve here.). You reach the corner and just as you’re about to cross the street, a car pulls alongside you. The driver leans over and rolls down the window.
“Excuse me,” he says. “I’m looking for Joe’s Café.”
You just ate at Joe’s that morning, so you are able to give him very detailed, very clear directions – including the recommendation to skip the chicken salad – even though Joe’s is a little bit off the beaten path and not that easy to find. You even whip out a scrap of paper and sketch a little map, which you hand over. The driver thanks you, rolls the window back up… and drives off in the opposite direction from the one you indicated.
“What is he doing?” You ask yourself. “Here I spent five minutes giving that guy directions, and he didn’t even listen to me! He’s going to get totally lost!” Peeved, you and Rover turn around and head for home, shaking your head over some people’s stupidity.
Let’s bring this back to the realm of reality. YOU are the driver looking for Joe’s. YOU are also the one giving directions, by way of a detailed to-do list. And YOU just might also be the one who ignores the directions and goes on your merry way – and maybe even ends up ordering the chicken salad.
When you spend time putting together a roadmap to where you want to go and then don’t follow it, you are being just like our intrepid driver – ignoring wisdom and advice at your own expense. Somehow, we think we know better than ourselves. We figure the way we ranked the items on our to-do list didn’t really count, or has changed in the 20 minutes since we drew up the plan. We are like fussy little kids, insisting we do things our own way – and then somehow we’re surprised when we don’t get the results we wanted.
The solution? It’s easy: FOLLOW THE PLAN. If you take time to consider your long-term goals, draw up a to-do list to help you get there, and rank the actions in order of priority, all that’s left is to EXECUTE. The hard part has actually already been finished. You don’t have to think; you just have to move in the direction you’re already pointed.
Oh yeah, and avoid the chicken salad.
Writing and applying your to-do list items are completely separate, as the example above shows us. Even though, you have the necessary tools to reach your business goal, you still find yourself NOT accomplishing them or using those tools. Either your distracted by your daily routines, family or other personal endeavors, or you believe your goals can be achieved by taking a different route. Following those steps can be a challenge within itself.
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