By Kia Jarmon for 12th & Broad
Nike (or the ad agency) was on to something when they created their tagline, Just Do It! It’s been echoed in hundreds of commercials, heard by young kids playing their desired sports, and even whispered to themselves by women and men looking to jump back on the workout wagon. The story behind it is actually pretty gruesome but at its core it’s genius. It’s more than words but an action, a declaration that sparks you to move regardless of your starting point.
I recently sat in and on a yearly strategy session for a client. And I was amazed at the amount of planning to plan the plan we were doing. Something sparked in me and I asked the question, “at what point do we stop planning and begin the work?” I think that question resonates within almost everyone because we have all had to make that decision. Where to I start?
I recognized this moment so well. So often I encounter two types of people; the person with a billon sticky notes filled with scribbled ideas without a rhyme or reason of how or where to start and then there’s the person who has a perfectly mapped out plan with graphics, flow charts, and rationale to back it up. I will focus on the latter but they both have a fundamental challenge, they only theorize about what overnight success they could have but rarely do they start the process.
I begin to think through this process with myself in mind. How did I “just do it”? I think of my adventures like zip lining. And while I am far from the athletic type there is something about being several hundred feet in the air, with a hundred or so feet across to go that energizes me. I jump because it causes me to make a decision and stick with it. There is literally no going back. I realized I have been a risk taker all my life and these adventures remind me of the ‘jump’ each time.
Continuing to reflect on my journey, I am often I have been asked what I would do differently in running my business? My answer is usually the same. Nothing. Sometimes you just know to much and that keeps you from starting. When I started my PR business (I’ve had a few others prior to then) I learned about business as I went. I felt comfortable making the mistakes early and learning sometimes the hard lessons but it only made me want to keep going.
When I think of the anxiety of starting a process I recall something my grandmother once told me, “tomorrow never comes because it’s always today”. At first it was almost too profound to be made sense of. And then it hit me. Every time I say, I will do that tomorrow, when that day gets here it is back to today.
So I ask, what have you been putting off for tomorrow that you can just do today?
For many it could be simple like laundry or organizing your office. For others it could be grueling like sending off the patent paperwork or finishing the book (points to self). Whatever it is, finishing can only happen once you start.
So here are three ways to consider beginning the process.
1. Identify your start trigger. As an example, for me to write an article on a consistent basis I must have a title that inspires some type of creativity. So what do I do? All week, I write down titles and a short one liner about what I meant for it to cover. Those notes are archived and I can pull from a dozen or so at this point. It makes my life easier because I while it may take me several hours to get inspired, write, and then find a title, I can now knock out a post in an hour or so.
2. I learned a trick several years ago; write down five priority items. The top three is the focus and should be worked on immediately, if you can get to the bottom two that is great but if not put it on tomorrow’s list. The key is two point, 1) bite off what you can chew; be realistic in what you can produce in a day and 2) you always have a place to start without overthinking.
3. Set a timer. For iphone users, you can put special notes into your timer/alarm function to remind you of your task. If your goal is to clean your desk and it is too overwhelming to do all at once, set your timer for 11am every day and for five minutes, without stopping, clean up one corner. You will eventually have cleaned the entire desk.
Another example for writers is to give yourself three key words like apple, brand, and Nashville. For five minutes you must continue writing without stopping or editing, picking up your pin or taking your hands off the keyboard. Oh and don’t forget to use your three words at some point. You will find that you have completed a chapter in just a couple of sittings.
I say all this to say, Just Do It! Remember, your trademarked, million-dollar idea can’t begin until you do.
Cheers to your start process!