Today is a follow-up from last week’s explanation of War Week: blocking out a set chunk of time to massively wage war on the mediocrity of your own life. After last week’s general explanation of the process, we’ve now made it to the nitty gritty, make-it-or-break-it segment of our War Week discussion! Have you made time to think about your own War Week? I hope so! Was it a daunting task just thinking about it? Remember, after I spent a week designing my ideal life and putting together a project plan to attain it, I had more than a hundred action items of things to “fix” and new projects to tackle. The size of the list alone threatened to paralyze me before I ever took one step in the right direction, so I had to come up with a way to make our dream life seem attainable. This is where we left off last week—creating an implementation schedule that will allow you to “eat the elephant” of your life goals one bite at a time!
Before I give you specific details, let me ask you a few questions. Why is it that so many of us have been working on the same “to-do list” for ages? Why do we barely even bother setting New Years’ resolutions anymore? How come we show up for appointments with other people like clockwork, but we break every commitment we make to ourselves? Because we schedule appointments with other people, but we don’t schedule them with ourselves. If you schedule an appointment with a doctor, hair stylist, masseuse, or therapist, do you just make a mental note that you “need” to do it and then “hope” you remember? No. Do you tell them that you’ll be there just as soon as you get around to it, or as soon as your schedule clears up? No. Do you miss your original appointment time, and then just casually bump it back each day over and over again until you finally decide to make it in to meet with them? No. What do you do? If it’s something important to you, you make an appointment, schedule it in your calendar, set a reminder for yourself, and then take the appropriate action to get yourself there before the deadline, right? That’s a no brainer—it’s common sense. So, why don’t we approach the commitments that we make ourselves or the dreams tugging at our hearts with the same respect?
In my own life, it boiled down to a lack of awareness of the negative effect that my “passenger seat” approach was having on my life. Once I realized this, I have had a hunger and drive to be powerful in each moment, like I never experienced before. There are three key principles that moved me from the passenger seat to the drivers’ seat of my life: prioritization, proactive planning, and deadlines!
I first sat down and prioritized every single item on the list. Did some already have deadlines? Were some items dependent on the completion of other items? Did some of the items affect my income? Would some cost me money to complete? I took all of this into account as I prioritized the list. Remember, the list was a total compilation of ALL items, both professional and personal. Then, I sat down with a 12-month calendar and did some soul-searching and educated-guessing on how long it would take me to tackle and complete each of the items. Based on my existing engagements and commitments for the coming year, I scheduled appointments with myself to complete each item on the list. I can now look at my calendar and literally see my dreams coming true…right alongside holding my other professional commitments, family functions, having my teeth cleaned, etc.
Finally, we must give ourselves deadlines and find a way to hold ourselves accountable. The definition of the word deadline is “a time limit; the time by which something must be done or completed”. Let me try to encourage you with an over-simplified thought: Is the course of your future and the degree of joy and fulfillment you get out of your life more important than your next hair cut? Of course! Then how come most people will get hundreds of haircuts over the span of their life, but will never achieve the few true dreams they have? Because missing a haircut deadline produces a very tangible outcome. Our hair will grow down into our eyes, the movie store will assess a late fee, the IRS will fine us or send us to prison, and our teeth will eventually rot if we don’t respond to those deadlines. But what happens if we don’t implement specific deadlines for achieving the life we desire? Well, our specific goals then become nothing more than wishful thinking as we slip into procrastination, and procrastination is nothing more than failure in slow motion. And we’re not talking about failing at a particular project or business venture here—we’re talking about failing at LIFE.
What does it mean to fail at life? To me, it would mean to miss out on my purpose. I don’t know about you, but nothing fuels me more than the thought of looking back over my life and having to give an account of what I did or didn’t do with the time I was given. I want to live life to the max, getting the maximum joy from each day while putting maximum service into each day! I want to enjoy every single blessing and life lesson God wants me to have, and I shudder at the thought of missing out on any of them due to my lack of awareness or preparation. It may not be tangible, but it’s more important to me than any monetary fine or physical consequence someone else could ever hold over my head.
Once I had my completed implementation schedule, I then incorporated it into my monthly project list, my weekly plan sheet, and my daily tasks. Here’s how: at the beginning of each month, I scan the implementation schedule for all of the line items that are due in the coming month. I transfer those over to my monthly project list (everything I’m responsible for in the month). I then break the month’s worth of projects down into specific weeks and certain days, around the rest of my life’s happenings. Remember, I prioritize them all and think of them in relation to the cost of my time: is there anything I can delegate, outsource, etc.? And I always, always, always make sure that my IPAs are scheduled before I tackle these items. Then I can spend the remaining time working to pursue my dreams without the guilt that comes from being undisciplined. Do I complete every task by the deadline? Of course not, but I’m way ahead of where I would have been without a plan at all.
Let me close with a word of encouragement. What we discussed here requires energy, effort, and focused drive. It requires resilience, abundance mentality, solutions-oriented thinking, and the refusal to get sucked into overwhelm. And please be aware: being overwhelmed is a choice. The fact is that only a small percentage of people will make time to wage war on mediocrity at this level, because mediocre roots run deep. Choose to be among the few who do, because life-long fulfillment never happened to anyone accidentally, and no one ever procrastinated their way to success. How do you live your dream life? You schedule it.