You can live by checklists or you can live by principles.
My organization loves checklists. We have checklists for our checklist and we have people dedicated to updating, distributing, and monitoring checklists.
Checklists are awesome for helping people see if they have performed all of their tasks. However, the drawback to relying on checklists is that is becomes a crutch. Instead of internalizing strategies, concepts, and processes, we just check off when we achieve a milestone. What happens if the strategy changes today but the checklist isn’t updated for another month or so? People who rely on those checklists will be behind the power curve and, basically, doing things contrary to the new strategy.
Checklists represent your external journey. It’s the journey that everyone sees. They see you walk the dog, take out the trash, and mow the lawn. There is a second journey, though, in which we internalize the change. The second journey drives our passion, props up our persistence, and is the place where happiness and fulfillment originate.
You’ve seen examples of two journeys that are not synched up. It’s the co-worker who says they want to lose weight but they haven’t changed their eating habits and spend more time talking about exercising than actually exercising. Maybe it’s a fellow entrepreneur who complains about flagging sales but fails to increase networking and marketing activities. People really want to make these changes but they haven’t begun their second journey. They have to commit and internalize the change instead of trying to adhere to a checklist of actions.
Here are some tips to help commit and internalize.
Know your strategy and goals
We’ve talked a lot about fleshing out our strategy and being intimately connected to our goals and dreams. This is your rudder and your goals and dreams are your power source. Priority Management Not Time Management is a great place to start if you haven’t created a realistic and clear picture of where you want to be in the next few years.
Do a mental walk-through for each action
I have a friend who mentally walks a golf course when he has a tough time sleeping. He said he can feel the golf club in his hands and see the ball fly through the air toward the hole. Now, he has taken this visualization technique to the course and imagines all of his shots before he takes them. His handicap is steadily decreasing and he loves golf again.
We can do the same thing. Maybe you want to start a business but you don’t know where to find customers. Think about a specific person who you want to target. Be very specific. What is this person’s name? What do they do for a living? How will you dress when you meet them? What will you say? Where will you be? What time of the day is it? Are there other people around? Will you network with other business owners in order to connect with your target customers?
Create multiple vibrant pictures of how you will find customers. And then go out and do it!
Publicize your intentions and seek accountability
You probably have people in your life who hold you accountable. Find your cheerleaders and let them know about your plan. Specifically ask them to check with you about your progress and don’t get defensive when they wonder why you haven’t made any head-way. This is their job. It doesn’t feel good when we miss the target but sometimes we need a little push.
Write it down
If you do nothing else on this list … write down your plan. Write it down again. If you feel comfortable, post it so you see it on a regular basis. Writing down a plan (especially in long hand) helps you to connect with it.
How do you internalize new concepts and behaviors?