8/01/2010

Quantify It

You know that I believe success in life is the result of taking action. Without action, there will be no success. It is that simple. All the planning and motivation will accomplish nothing without being followed up by action. This is what makes our invisible plans visible. Action is the bridge between the non-existent and the existent.

Of course, many will argue that taking the proper action is important also. I would agree. However, there is one disclaimer that I put on that: for most, any action is an improvement. We are so accustomed to being inactive that doing anything is a movement in the right direction.

That being said, once we choose the proper action, we need to look at the intensity which we approach those things that need to be done. Have you ever heard of "going through the motions"? This is where someone does the right things but with minimal effort. Public service employees are often accused of majoring in this. They do what needs to be done but without enthusiasm. Intensity is what separates completion from grand success.

A simple exercise to do is to quantify the level of intensity that you are applying in the present moment. For example, if you are reading this post, what is your level of attention to it? Are you just glancing at it while the television is blasting in the background? Or are you in a peaceful area so you can concentrate? I know, as I write these words, the only distraction I have is the cat on the floor cleaning himself. The television is off and my other browsers are closed. My total focus is on this activity in the moment.

Does that mean we have to operate full tilt in everything we do? Of course not. That would cause burnout (or a heart attack) very quickly. However, most of what we do can be improved upon. Quantifying our present level is what allows us to increase that level. Our goal is simply to move up the scale somewhat.

I will use the analogy of weight lifting since it is fairly simple to quantify. Each time I workout, I can tell you what level it was at. When I am motivated and pumped up, I am usually at a 9 or 10. Yet, when I am dragging ass, my workouts can be at a 5. Now, is it reasonable for me to expect to be at a 9 or 10 all the time? No it is not. But, when I am at a 5, I can stop myself and ask "how can I get this to a 6 or a 7"? Mentally, I have a checklist of things that I go through to try to motivate myself. Often, if I can get a couple extra points, that is the difference between an awful workout and a decent one. Raising the bottom pays enormous dividends in my experience.

Apply this mental exercise over the next week. Throughout your day, ask yourself "what level is I presently at". Whatever it is, try to raise it up but 1 or 2 points. Think of all the things that will increase your energy, focus, attention, and/or outlook. This will net you better results and help you avoid going through the motions. We all have tasks that we dont want to do. Making them as fulfilling as possible enables us to further enjoy those things that we do like to do. After all, this is your life we are talking about.


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