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Stepping Stones

Start with a Plan!

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: Grant Guarino
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of demands that each day brings, when your goals seem out of reach – heed this good advice: Start with a plan!

Ain’t got a plan?  Create one! Even one as vague as “place the big rocks first and then work around ’em to get the little stuff done.”  You’ve probably heard this little ditty before:

Rocks In The Bucket Story

A lecturer at a university is giving a pre-exam lecture on time management. On his desk is a bag of sand, a bag of pebbles, some big rocks and bucket. He asks for a volunteer to put all three grades of stone into the bucket, and a keen student duly steps up to carry out the task, starting with the sand, then the pebbles, then the rocks, which do not all fit in the bucket.

“The is an analogy of poor time management,” trills the lecturer, “If you’d have put the rocks in first, then the pebbles, then the sand, all three would have fit. This is much like time management, in that by completing your biggest tasks first, you leave room to complete your medium tasks, then your smaller ones. By completing your smallest tasks first you spend so much time on them you leave yourself unable to complete either medium of large tasks satisfactorily. Let me show you.”

And the lecturer re-fills the bucket, big rocks first, then pebbles, then sand, shaking the bucket between each so that everything fits.

But I’ll bet you haven’t heard this punch line:

“But Sir,” says one student, slouched at the back of the theatre “you’ve forgotten one thing.”

At which the student approaches the bucket, produces a can of lager, opens it and pours into the bucket. “No matter how busy you are,” quips the student with a smile, “there’s always time for a quick beer.”

Un huh. Seems an apt reminder that among the big rocks we should include one called “life-balancing R & R!”  And by the way, if you’re getting discouraged because you expected to be closer to your goal by now, consider forgiving yourself.  You’ve been doing the best you can.  And, you can do better in the future.

Don’t carry your mistakes around with you. Instead, place them under your feet and use them as stepping stones to rise above them.

— Ryan Ferreras

Start Placing the Big Rocks…

In her book, [amazon-product text=”The Language of Letting Go: Hazelden Meditation Series” type=”text”]0894866370[/amazon-product], Melody Beattie wrote about the value of writing out your goals:

Make New Year’s goals. Dig within, and discover what you would like to have happen in your life this year. This helps you do your part. It is an affirmation that you’re interested in fully living life in the year to come.

Goals give us direction. They put a powerful force into play on a universal, conscious, and subconscious level. Goals give our life direction.

What would you like to have happen in your life this year? What would you like to do, to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What particular areas of growth would you like to have happen to you? What blocks, or character defects, would you like to have removed?

What would you like to attain? Little things and big things? Where would you like to go? What would you like to have happen in friendship and love? What would you like to have happen in your family life?

What problems would you like to see solved? What decisions would you like to make? What would you like to happen in your career?

Write it down. Take a piece of paper, a few hours of your time, and write it all down – as an affirmation of you, your life, and your ability to choose. Then let it go.

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

Yes, I know it’s February not January 2013.  But if you haven’t plotted out your resolutions for the year – now’s the time to finally affirm what you’d like to achieve in the remaining 10.5 months of 2013!

Edward: “You know what the difference is between a dream and a goal?” he used to say to me. “A plan.”

— Jodi Picoult
Lone Wolf

Make That Plan!

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.

— Napoleon Hill

Don’t be intimidated by needing “A PLAN”.  Instead, go for the simpler “a plan”.  Daniel M. Wood tells us how to get there – it’s as easy as daydreaming.

How is it done?

Start by projecting forward to your goals; what has had to happen? How does your world look?

Paint it as vividly as possible.

What had to happen 90 days before, for you to complete your goal? Keep projecting back 90 days at a time until you get to the present.

That way you have a plan on what you need to do from now, until you reach your goals.

And then, plan in hand, prioritize and execute… one big rock at a time

Moving rocks

Got Technology? Use It!

Silas moving rocks

And then, FUEL the fire!

Adding Fuel To The Fire

You may be amazed at what happens next!

It’s strange how a plan can unfold sometimes—an umbrella shooting up at the touch of a button and extending out in all directions quickly, effortlessly.

— Elissa Janine Hoole
Kiss the Morning Star

But don’t expect that you’ll be able to Do It ALL!

Sometimes we just have to make hard choices – like which rock to skip.  In his blog Life of a Steward, Loren Pinilis reminds us that choosing the life role of “superman/woman” isn’t good for our health and wellbeing:

So people schedule in their priorities, but the urgent things keep coming up. They guilt trip themselves, take care of the “pebbles,” and promise themselves that they’ll be better about scheduling in their priorities.

The biggest myth that people believe about time management is that they can “fit it all in” if they just rearrange things differently.

We search for that next productivity app, scheduling technique, or goal-setting model in the hopes that we can fit it all in. And it is great to try and be efficient.

But at some point, we just need to get rid of rocks.

It might be working less. It might be reducing areas of service. It might be participating less in a hobby.

Chances are the decisions will be difficult – or else you would have already made them.

What are some difficult decisions you have made or might have to make in order to reduce the amount of pebbles and rocks?

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the barrage of demands that each day brings, when your goals seem out of reach – heed this good advice: Start with a plan… AND toss some rocks!

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