“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” — Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
One thing I think we all struggle with at times in our lives is control. We can’t control everything, but that can be hard to acknowledge, especially for go-getters and entrepreneurs. We may want to be hands on with every aspect of our work and personal lives. But for better or worse, what happens is often beyond our control.
If we can’t always control the results, what we can control are our activities. So what are the activities you can do that will lead to the results you want?
Break It Down
What is the result you want? Let’s say it’s become a successful entrepreneur. Of course, you can’t will that goal into existence; you also can’t know for sure that it will happen. But what you can know for sure is that if you take actions toward meeting that goal, it is likelier to be achieved.
Say your business is selling handcrafted tote bags. Your goal is to gain 400 Facebook followers over the course of the next six months. The business is already up and running, but you need to grow awareness of it in order to make a profit. I always recommend breaking down goals into MIPs: Most Important Priorities. Develop three MIPs for the day, one to three for the week, one to three for the month, and one to three for the quarter. For the tote bag business, maybe one of your daily MIPs is to create a Facebook ad for your business. A weekly MIP might be to comment on or like posts from 20 new business-relevant pages on Facebook. Monthly, an MIP might be to develop a partnership with a tote bag influencer on Facebook. And quarterly, maybe an MIP is to create a series of Facebook Live video tutorials on bag-making. All these MIPs are geared toward your goal: gain followers, to in turn boost the business.
You may or may not get those 400 followers, but you will definitely be a whole lot closer than if you had just tried some random posting and then crossed your fingers.
Are Your Activities Getting Results?
Crucial to the activities → results trajectory is regularly checking in to see whether your activities are getting you closer to your results. If things don’t seem to be heading in the right direction, review your activities. They may not be the right ones to get you to your objectives, or maybe they just need some tweaking. For instance, with the MIPs for the tote bag company, maybe your engagement efforts aren’t as effective as taking a different tack might be, such as developing a Facebook group for friends and fans of the business.
If you do discover that you aren’t getting closer to your hoped-for results, don’t worry about it! Worrying is completely unproductive; it will get you further from where you want to go. Spend that brain power on reworking your MIPs/activities.
Be honest with yourself about how things are going, and know that no one gets it right the first time.
Activities That Always Get Results
While every person’s journey is unique, and results-geared activities will vary based on the outcomes sought, there are a few activities that are universally good to practice.
Focus and plan. No matter the outcome you’re aiming for, planning will get you closer to it than winging it. Planning- and focus-related activities include establishing long-term goals and MIPs, and selecting a planner and system to track your activities. Also focus on where your focus is: try to be mindful of when your thoughts start to wander. Some mind wandering can be beneficial for creativity and problem-solving. Too much, though, and you’ll get off track.
Develop a support system. As a New York Times headline puts it, “Social Interaction Is Critical for Mental and Physical Health.” “The emotional support provided by social connections helps to reduce the damaging effects of stress and can foster ‘a sense of meaning and purpose in life,’” the article states, describing the findings of a 2010 study by two sociology researchers at the University of Texas. Taking the action of developing a support system—whether that means regular calls with your family, or joining an accountability circle—will help you achieve your result, whatever it may be.
Develop a routine. Developing a routine for your workday makes it unnecessary to expend brain power on questions like, When will I reply to that email or How much time can I dedicate to Project X today? There is also comfort in the familiarity of routines; humans are creatures of habit who tend to prefer the known. That’s not to say that you need to follow a strict, set pattern without any deviation every day, just that if you lay a few ground rules for yourself, you will probably find your activities easier to achieve. For instance, I like to get the hardest tasks out of the way first thing in the morning. Following that routine helps me work through my activities, and toward the results I want to achieve.
Take care of your health. Again, this one’s universal: Regardless of the hoped-for result, you’ll do a better job of meeting it if you’re in good physical and mental shape. Get enough sleep, get exercise, rest your eyes regularly if you’re always staring at screens, eat well, and take breaks.
These activities may seem indirectly related to your results, but trust me, they’ll move you in the right direction.