An Excerpt From Lessons From My Brother Zig By Hall of Fame Speaker Floyd Wickman
When I tell the story of John D. Rockefeller, I always implore my audiences to imitate his discipline of placing tasks in order of importance and to start with the first one. But there is yet another thing he disciplined himself to do. He stayed with each task until it was completed before moving to the next item on the list.
Do you get distracted from completing what you intend to do? Begin at once to change this by changing your thinking. Think of yourself as someone who finishes what you start. From now on, once you start an activity, determine that you will finish it, rather than leave it partially completed. I have often taken a large sheet of paper and drawn half-completed circles all over it. Then I point to the drawing and say, “This is what causes stress.” A host of unfinished projects will sap your energy and make you feel defeated. If you try to complete the circles, you will find it nearly impossible to put your pen in exactly the right spot so the rest of the circle may be drawn without detecting where the pen was lifted, and it will be slow-going. This illustrates how much faster and more efficient it is to stick with the tasks you start until they are done. Research studies draw the same conclusion. It takes less energy and time to finish what you start than to start, stop, and then re-start. Often, the end result is different once you have interrupted the activity as well.
When you are tempted to come back to a task or project instead of sticking with it until it’s finished, remind yourself to complete your circles and be proud of yourself for accomplishing more in less time.
Next -- Learn to say “no”
Have you made a list of all the things you need to accomplish in a day? Have you prioritized the list and determined the five most important tasks that would help you to hit your goal? That’s a good start, but it takes the ability to say “no” to prevent you from getting off track.
One of the most frequent distractions preventing us from doing the tasks we’d planned is our innate desire to please others. Because we love people, we get off track by saying “yes” to those who wish for us to abandon our priorities in order to do other things.
The only way I know to stop the habit of over-committing and putting our work in second place is to learn to say “no.” At first blush, this may seem harsh and cruel. We want to help people, and usually enjoy doing so. It pains us to have to say “no” to someone, and we may feel guilty. Yet, without protecting our time, we can end up becoming a non-profit organization! Do you truly desire to hit your goal? If so, you will need focused attention instead of distraction.
While we want to be of assistance to those we care about, we simply cannot afford to make their goals more important than our own. Like flight attendants remind us each time we fly, “In the unlikely event of an emergency, please place your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others.” To do otherwise renders us unable to help ourselves or anyone else. When we are strong, capable and prosperous, we can do the most good for those we love.
If you’ve put your goal in picture form and posted a thermometer to measure your progress, then you have the necessary ingredients to take control of your time. When someone asks you to do something that will take you off track, I advise you to look at that thermometer and the picture of your goal. If you are on track, say “yes” and do so with joy. If you see that you are behind, simply say these words, “Love to. Can’t now.” When you are on course or have hit your goal, feel free to dedicate your additional time and energy to other people. When you are off track, stay focused on the goal and allow nothing to deter you.
Read more powerful lessons from Floyd and Mary’s book Lessons From My Brother Zig today. And if you want to learn more about staying in control in your market? Contact a Floyd Wickman Program Trainer today at 1-800-910-5351 and join us on our Team Facebook Page for daily inspiration!