I have not blogged in many months and lack of time is by far the weakest excuse I have allowed to creep into my life. In reality, I have not focused on the necessary planning needed to keep my priorities in order. It has been awesome to read new comments on my blog even with so many months of inactivity and I realize that I have the opportunity to continue to share what I learn and experience with others.
In the spirit of my own inaction, today I’m reminding myself and anyone reading of the importance of planning, consistency, and follow through.
In a society where things are always changing and our focus is constantly being shifted from one thing to another, it is harder and harder to make long-term commitments in our day to day lives. I don’t know about you, but I live everyday hopping from class to class, work to homework, and board meeting to professional workshop. I’ve become so accustomed to it that days, weeks, even months pass before I realize I never followed up on something crucial that I needed to do. Well…at least I thought it was crucial at the time, however, we’ve all heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words”. But, does inactivity really mean that we don’t care about something, or is it just the way we are learning to cope with this new world we live in?
Day by day my view on this subject has changed to the latter. With that said, we cannot use the hustle and bustle of life as an excuse. There are so many amazing opportunities each day to make progress towards our goals, but consistency is really the key. While we may live in a world of perpetual task-hopping, the world is only so understanding of delay in or lack of action. I look at life as a book of connect the dot pictures. Each page represents an experience we can embark on, and we may even decide to take on more than one page at a time. What then must we do to continue to move forward and connect the dots to achieve our goals and realize our dreams?
Well, it turns out we can learn a lot from Thomas Pavitt and his (possibly) world record completion of a 6,239 dot image of the Mona Lisa. This was not your average connect-the-dots image people. Even as an accomplished artist that also created the image, it took him about 9 hours to complete. I would say that is about 20 times longer than any connect-the-dots I’ve ever done. Just looking at the original image, it seems overwhelming and nearly impossible to complete. I mean, if I take an hour a day to work on this, that’s at least 9 days. How many days would it take you to find something else that seems more important and abandon the project altogether?
Pursuing a goal, especially an expansive one that will take a lot of time requires strategy. Without a plan, we can quickly become overwhelmed or distracted and abandon the goal altogether.
- Start with your goal. – You really have to decide where you want to go before you head there. Thomas wanted to set a connect-the-dots world record and decided on the Mona Lisa as the outcome.
- Layout your roadmap no matter how complicated. – It may be overwhelming, but knowing ahead of time what you need to do to achieve your goal is crucial to keeping your focus over time. Dot-by-dot, Thomas planned his roadmap.
- Break up the steps into larger chunks. – While it may take weeks, years, or months to accomplish your goal, recognizing your milestones along the way is extremely rewarding. He could have chosen to simply layout the dots, but Thomas went the extra step of breaking them up into groups of 400 in addition to color coding each group.
- Stick to the plan. – Don’t skip steps and most importantly trust yourself in your abilities, especially when you are trying new things for the first time. Of course the purpose of numbering the dots is to follow the path from beginning to end and you can never know the consequences of skipping steps until the very end. After so much work, you won’t want to end up with an undesirable image.
- Do a little every day – or buckle down and do it all in one binge, whatever works for you, but keep moving forward because true accomplishment ONLY happens through the accumulation of each and every step we take. Thomas committed a day to his project, but that doesn’t mean you have to. It’s more important that you make an effort everyday even when you don’t want to.
The best part of this in my opinion is that no matter how many connect-the-dots drawings (or goals/projects) you are working on, you can continue to make progress on all of them over time remembering these key steps. When you have a plan to accomplish your goals, it makes it so much easier to succeed. Every person has different factors for motivation and finds different parts of the process difficult.
Personally, I have found that I have to constantly remind myself of the end goal. No matter how tedious or unpleasant the task is, when I remember what I am trying to accomplish, it renews my spirit and the way I view the task. I am also one for immediate gratification so breaking my steps up into mini-goals gives me the necessary satisfaction that helps me continue towards the ultimate goal.
With time you find the tiny ways you can motivate and inspire yourself and I feel that when you put it all together, you can see yourself more committed to the necessary consistency in your work, school, or personal goals.