We may not be able to see the future, but we can use a couple of tools to get a pretty good idea.
The first one is a vision.
When we have a vision, whether, for a business or a product or just ourselves in ten years, we’re choosing the future we want.
We may not be certain how it will pan out. It will rarely feel the same as we imagine. But we can be sure that it will look pretty close, as long as we use the second tool: plans.
Once we have a vision, we can make a plan.
And once we have a plan, all we have to do is stick with it and get the future we chose (or something very like it) sooner or later. Often, it’s later than we’d like but sooner than we expect.
Nothing is unattainable if we have a strong vision and a plan to get there.
Sadly, many people don’t realize that it’s as easy as that, and they never choose a vision at all.
Clipboard carriers get a bad rep.
There’s nothing wrong with turning up and just ticking the boxes.
Some of the most interesting works of art and all of the wonders of technology are only possible because somebody with a clipboard went around checking wires and ticking boxes and making sure that everything is exactly where it should be.
Turning up and ticking whatever box you told yourself you would is more than enough to reach the stars.
Check ignition and blast off!
Steve Jobs had a thing about bikes.
He’s well known for choosing a velocipede as his mode of transport when exploring a city.
Even more famously (and somewhat ironically), he was noted for calling the personal computer a “bicycle for the mind.”
At the time, it was difficult enough to fit a computer into a garage, let alone your pocket.
But Jobs was talking about evolution and efficiency.
Humans are very average at converting food into movement until you put us on a bike. Then we can go further and faster on fewer calories than any other animal.
Now that we can fit the computing power of the planet into our pocket, we can achieve an incredible amount with the mere lift of a finger (or thumb).
We can move the world — without moving our ass out of bed.
Eat that dust, evolution.
Mark Twain was a smart chap and a great storyteller, but he didn’t say this:
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you all day.”
The idea is sound.
Completing the most challenging or least enjoyable tasks first greases the wheels of the day. Everything goes a little smoother afterwards.
It’s such a sound idea that OG business coach Brian Tracey wrote a whole book about it.
It’s why Admiral McCraven tells us to make our beds in the morning and why drinking a glass of water first thing can change our lives.
Writing this note to you is often the hardest part of my day.
But here’s my favourite part about this expression.
When M. de Lassey said it, he said it about Napoleon and his cronies, and it originally went something along the lines of:
“If you have to spend the day in court, eat a toad first so that nothing more disgusting happens to you all day.”
It always feels better once it’s done.
Could be a workout.
Could be the washing up.
Could be a walk.
Could be a talk.
Whatever it is that you’ve told yourself you’ll do today.
Get ‘er done.
Then have some fun.
How many hearts were lost at sea?
Before we flew, we strung some old cloth to a bunch of dead trees, flung them in the ocean, and clung on tight. Fortunes were made and lost on the high seas.
Many a maiden looked across the harbour, hoping to see the dove-white flash of a topsail on the horizon; their heart returned.
Most waited in vain.
The thing about waiting for our ship to come in is there’s nothing we can do about it. We can gnash our teeth and wail and pray and beg, but that only makes us feel better about our helplessness.
Building a boat isn’t easy. It will take a long time, a year or two minimum. There will be many splinters and bruised thumbs and cursing along the way. Even if we finish it in time, there’s no telling that it will float.
And even if floats, that could spell the end for us.
We could drown, far away from where we began, wet and cold and alone and wishing we’d taken some navigation courses while we were building our boat.
But it sure beats waiting for your ship to come in.
A common misconception about being creative is that it’s enjoyable.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Being creative is fun. Creating for a living is work.
No muse appears for a deadline. We’ve just got to sit down and start working.
We won’t get calloused hands, but we’ll probably get repetitive strain injury. Our back won’t break from hauling stones, but it will creak from hours hunched over a table.
Being creative is rarely fun for long.
But it sure as hell is rewarding when you eke out something where there was nothing before — not even the desire to create.
It often seems like the quickest way to get through a long to-do list is to rush through as many things as possible.
The hope is that at the end of a few hours, we can look back at a crossed-off list and feel content.
But the list constantly grows. And the little things turn out to be bigger and more tiresome than we predicted.
By the end of the day, only half the list is ticked, and we’re completely zonked.
On days when I settle for less — just the one big thing — I almost always find that I have the time and the energy to do a few of the small things too.
Settling for less often turns out to be way more productive.