Do you ever get to the end of your day exhausted, not sure if all your busyness was meaningful or helpful to accomplish your most important goals? I have. It happens to the best of us. But when those kind of days turn into weeks, months, and even years, it’s time to pause and consider changes that can help us win the day.
I decided to write about winning the day because lately I’ve been getting one question—a lot—when friends and new acquaintances learn I finally finished and published my first book. It’s not the type of question new authors want to hear first, like “Where can I buy your book… today?
What they want to know is, “How long did it take you to write it? When I tell them it took 18 months, they follow up with, “Really! From beginning to end?” You have to be there to understand the sentiment behind the words. What they’re really thinking is Can I do this too?
Trust me. I know. I have been there—many times. The quick answer is YES! But first they need to determine to win the day.
Who Should Keep Reading
- Anyone who needs to—finally—start (writing, blogging, a business, a career change, a better way of doing something).
- Anyone who needs to finish and ship (the article, the book, the project, the proposal, etc.).
- Anyone who needs to fine tune a process that works fairly well but isn’t producing optimal results.
If you are ready to move on, consider the example of writing my book to connect the dots. The process is applicable to any goal you want to reach.
The Bottom Line
Winning the day rarely happens by accident; it’s the result of deliberate planning, focused action, and courageous perseverance—it’s about intention, not perfection. (Tweet that!)
First, plan (smart) to win the day
Those who know me understand that planning, acting, and persevering are part of my DNA. However, I haven’t always planned smart. That’s why I was grateful when my friend Mike Lopez gave me a copy of Live by Referral: Live the Good Life by Brian Buffini and Joe Niego a few year ago. Although the little book is written for an audience of real estate professionals, their “Win the Day” concept is brilliant in it’s simplicity. I’ve since adapted it to help me write and publish my book and to grow my consulting and coaching business.
In this post I share how this plan helped me finish my book. In my next post, I’ll expand on this concept and share how it’s helping me grow my business to the next level. I’ll also give you the opportunity to get free copies of the Word templates you can tweak for yourself.
The planning phase includes three steps:
- Focus all your attention on ONE significant goal. In 2013 I set the goal to finish my my book in one year. That became the focus for the rest of the year and the following year. Much has been written in recent years on the importance of keeping a single focus. In the 1:40 minute video at the end of this post Brian Tracy explain the importance and process of focusing on one goal.
- Identify the minimum activities needed to win the day. These are the activities that, when compounded over time, will yield your desired results. For example, I knew I would need to write fifty thousand words to have a book of about 200 pages. Keeping in mind that I’m a slow writer with a bad case of perfectionism, I set a goal to write 500 words and edit 1000 previously written words. Every day. I knew that even if I could only win four days a week, I could still meet my goal in one year.
- Identify the minimum long-term activities that will help you achieve your goal. Since my goal was both to finish writing and to publish my book, I had to incorporate other activities besides writing and editing, in my plan to win the week, the month, the quarter, and the year. In other words, planning to win the day also involves forecasting and planning activities that will get you closer to your goal. I’ll expand on this idea in my next post.
Second, take action… and trust the process
For years, I was convinced that I was an effective multitasker. I continuously worked on multiple projects, but few of them actually made it to the intended audience. I was half-producing but rarely shipping. Then I began to study people who consistently shipped good work. They shared one thing in common: they focused on their top goal every day and consistently engaged in the activities that moved it forward—until it was completed.
Once I began to implement my “win the day” process to write my book, I determined to focus just on the key activities for the day. Accomplishment was tangible and achievable. More importantly, I reminded myself that if I trusted the process I would get to the finish line eventually. It wasn’t always that simple, especially the multiple times I had to start from scratch (a longer story I’ll share in an upcoming post). However, my goal was to win the day. That single focus kept me moving forward.
Third, persevere courageously
Perseverance in the midst of failure takes courage. “How long did it take you to write the book?” is the wrong question. “How many times did you want to quit and what kept you going?” is the right question. That’s what I always want to know when others achieve feats I dream of achieving. And if you’re already asking the right question, let me give you the answer.
I wanted to quit almost every day. The day I realized that the 70 pages I had written were unpublishable. The day I realized that my second draft, the new 60 pages I’d written, were a poor excuse for the story I really wanted to tell with my book. The day writer’s block showed up—again. The day I received the partially edited manuscript from my editor, showing so many corrections that I just wanted to cry. Ok, fine. I did cry. You get the picture.
By the way, I missed my writing goal by six months, and my goal for publishing (the physical book) by an entire year. Yet, I would still be thinking and tinkering with the idea of a book if I hadn’t determine to persevere on my winning plan.
Winning the day takes courage to do what you said you would do every day until the goal is met. Winning the day takes courage to face the fear of failure. Fear that everyone will finally realize you’re a fraud. Fear that failure will destroy you. What kept me going was accepting the fact that I might fail, but would finish any way.
I love these words by John Wooden: “Don’t confuse activity for accomplishment.” Our daily activity may give us a sense of accomplishment, but at the end of the day we need to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we truly won the day.
I hope you choose to win yours today.
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