Planning is fun; Doing isn’t always

I LOVE to plan. Like really, really, deeply, passionately LOVE to plan. Why? Because planning is so much easier than actually doing.

When I want to get fit, I make schedules, I orgainise my equipment, I buy new clothes and create little outfits to wear to yoga. Then I never go. Why? Because I planned it, man. Don’t try to convince me it’s not the same as doing. I totally envisioned myself going to the gym every morning with my new purple yoga mat under my arm. That’s pretty much the same thing as going to the gym every morning with my new purple yoga mat under my arm.

Only it’s not.

Planning is great because it makes you feel busy and productive, but it doesn’t actually involve any real work. Sure, there’s lots of pencil moving and beard stroking and tea drinking, but no matter how you look at it, it isn’t the same as getting shit done.

I am fantastic at convincing myself that planning and doing are one and the same. So good I am almost convinced it is my super power. That’s because I’m an Impostinator. I avoid actual work by doing LOTS of relatively unimportant jobs that I convince myself are urgent – more urgent than, say, doing the ONE task I know I need to be doing.

Here’s what my day often looks like.

impostinators-matrix
If you haven’t read Tim Urban’s giant series on procrastination, you should definitely check it out. You’ll flinch and wince and feel actual pain when you see him describe the intimate workings of your brain in a medium the whole world sees – but then it just might change your life.

My worst habit (a personal secret that Tim blatantly shared with the world) is making a To Do list full of “icky” items. I am SO good at this: open a dive centre in a foreign country, run a successful blog, learn how to make art and sell it, sort out life.

These are all great things in theory, but my god are they gross to think about starting. Where do you even begin??

You don’t.

You just don’t.

You find EVERYTHING else more interesting and you go do that. And then you sit around feeling sad that you didn’t do the things you actually wanted to do because, although they would feel great if they were done, they don’t feel great to make happen.

So here’s Tim’s advice for breaking this icky list habit.

  1. Un-icky this shit.
  2. Get shit done.

1. Un-icky this shit

Planning does needs to be done sometimes. With something as big as opening our own business in a foreign country, for example, we definitely need to be thinking of some things ahead of time.

So, we know we have to plan, but the trick here is: we need to plan smart.

Here are Tim’s three suggestions for effective planning:

  • Take a big list and select a winner.
  • Make an icky item un-icky. 
  • Turn a daunting item into a series of small, clear, manageable tasks. 

We went through this process over the weekend, breaking down the whole project into a few key jobs (find funding, figure out where we want to set up shop/live for the next 10 years, get industry experience) then un-ickyed each one by breaking them down further into smaller, actually-doable-which-makes-us-excited-to-do-them-so-we-can-cross-them-off tasks.

Now we can look every item and say, “Yep, we did that,” or, “Ok, still need to do that.” When they are done, we will highlight them in green (because seeing your gold stars feels good) and move on to the next item.

May I proudly present to you the fruit of that labour: Mission Control.

2. Get shit done

Approximately 5,670,897 self-help books and 8,725,391,398 motivational quotes on Facebook exist for this very moment in life. We tend to suck at transitioning from planning to doing. We want other people to say some magical words that will make everything easier, that will make the second step as easy as the first.

They can’t.

You have to just step up and get shit done.

Everyone has to find their own way to shift gears here. What motivates one person won’t work at all for another. Reading a million self-help books and Facebook quotes won’t make starting any easier. You have to just dive in and begin anyhow.

For us the drive to start doing comes from our excitement about having our own place, about making a lifestyle out of our passion and about the feeling of accomplishment we’ll have when, a couple of years from now, we slide into our own hammock on our own porch overlooking our own stretch of beach and, sipping a mojito from our own bar, we realise all the doing was worth it.

 

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