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Don't Set Yourself Up for Failure

Don't Set Yourself Up for Failure

You’ll hear a lot of fluffy advice that will tell you there’s no right or wrong way to do something - that there’s just your way. That’s bad advice because the people who have succeeded before you are obviously doing something right.


It would be wise to learn from the steps that successful people take. One of the biggest things that successful people do right is that they avoid overloading themselves by trying to do too much too soon.


You Must Focus on One Thing


The enemy of great is trying to do too much too quickly. You’re not seasoned, not prepared, not equipped to handle it all at once. You need time to grow into what it is that you want to become in your life.


When you try to do everything at once, be good at everything instantly, you’re like the captain of a cruise ship who tries to do everything himself - such as running the ship and entertaining the guests at the same time.


Or trying to take care of routine ship maintenance while also cooking the food. Like you, he might be a go getter and he might run himself ragged doing everything but he’s not nearly as effective because his focus is spread too thin.


You need to be careful that your focus stays on the area that you’re trying to change. If you want to change something about your life, let that be the main goal. Do whatever it is that you have power over - what you excel at.


For example, if you want to lose weight you might be good at cooking healthy meals at home. But you might be terrible when it comes to exercising. Your form looks like a jelly fish when you’re trying to do strength training.


You can keep on going, powering ahead - but you’ll end up flopping because you don’t know what you’re doing and you’re trying to handle everything about your weight loss all by yourself.


Instead, you could hire a personal trainer to correct your form and teach you about exercise. So, then you can concentrate on the food part of losing weight. When you focus on just what it is you need to do at one time, your success factor goes way up.


Hire the trainer. Then all you have to do is to show up at the gym and put in the reps. In your career, this might mean hiring someone to create content for you so you’re not trying to do that plus create your website, plus update your social media.


When you cut your work load, it gives you breathing room. You get to concentrate on doing one thing well rather than trying to do a dozen tasks and having the outcome look like it was done by an amateur.


When you try to do everything all at once, you set yourself up for failure because you can’t keep up with volume coupled with the demands on yourself physically. If you like stress and failure, then overloading yourself is the way to go. You’ll medal in stress and failure. Otherwise, to stay in the race, focus on one part of the change you want at a time.


You Need to Be Smart with Your Time


Who doesn’t love a shiny new to-do list? They’re brimming with possibility and hope. But they’re also known as a disappointment list because some tasks don’t get done. The biggest way that people screw up and overload themselves is they create a daily to-do list that’s too big.


Yes, you do need a list. Yes, you do need to get the stuff on it done. But you have to plan your list in a way that’s smart. Most people, when they create their list, aren’t thinking realistically about how long these tasks are going to take to complete.


So, they write a list out that’s as tall as they are and when they only get five things or so checked off, they feel like a failure. Instead, when you write your list, you want to put a time guestimate next to the task.


This will give a general idea of what you can get done without overloading yourself. When the day is done, you need to go back to your list and write down how much time it actually took to complete.


You spend way more time than you think you do. You put more things on your to-do list than you need to. When you take a look at your list at the end of the day, it can be eye-opening to realize how little or how much time it takes to get a particular task done.


It’ll help you see that you’re either faster than you thought or slower than a snail walking uphill through peanut butter. The next thing about your to-do list that’s going to help you prevent overload is making the majority of the things written on your list be that which brings you closer to your goals.


If your goal is to change careers to make more money, and you need to take a course to improve your knowledge or find a mentor, then your list needs to have “Take a course” or “Take a class” on it.


Don’t be the person who says you have goals, but you don’t do anything about them because your time is spent on things that don’t help you accomplish that. Being smart with your time is what helps you change your life.


If you want to lose weight, you’ll spend time creating healthy meals, or exercising, or making environment changes. You won’t fill your to-do list with things that don’t apply toward your weight loss goal.


Overload happens to a lot of people because they have a lot of hopes and dreams, but they don’t take the time to make those a goal. There’s a big difference between a hope and a goal.


If you give in to overload, you’re not getting your goals done, so what you have is wishful thinking without a changed life in sight. Being smart with your time means creating a to-do list featuring a top three “or else” goal.


Those are the three things that you must accomplish that day and they can’t be switched, put off or whined about. You just do it. If you want to change your career, don’t try to network, start a class, learn a new skill, read a career related book, and go to interviews, all on the same day.


Choose the one thing that’s going to have the best payoff and do that one first. Then choose the next one and so on. Learn how to prioritize your task list for results and if you get more done than you planned on, that’s the cherry on top!


You Have to Embrace the Small Things


You know why you feel like you’re drowning in overload? Why you’ve got so much on your plate that you’re stressed out and want to throw a tantrum worthy of a two-year-old denied a cookie?


Because you’ve got your focus on the big dramatic changes. You’re looking at weight loss with the final results firmly in your mind. You see the smaller clothes, the tighter shape, the things that you can do once you get the weight off.


You don’t see the small steps that lead you there. That’s what you need to embrace. Those small steps lead to the goal. Or you’ve imagined the perfect way for your relationship to be.


There’s going to be communication and fine dining and candlelight and respect and amazing peace and shared chores and everything you dreamed about. People aren’t puppets.


There’s a disconnect between what you want and who the other person is. You avoid overload with trying to change your relationships when you concentrate on one part of improving it.


Then you’re not overwhelmed. It will allow you to be more accepting when you get that change is a process, not an event. It’s the same way with trying to change your career, too.


Real change is earned in little steps forward and small changes are easier to stick with. They’re easier to maintain, too. Small changes like eating a healthy lunch and skipping the vending machine, writing one page of content, having one networking phone call, reaching out to one client, etc., are things that help you avoid overload.


Having the right small habits in your life, that you introduce a little at a time, can lead to lasting change. The problem occurs when you have this “go big or go home mentality.” You would think that’s the mark of a genius - a sure-fire way to view success.


But that kind of mentality leads to overload. And when you have overload, your failure is as guaranteed to show up as your annoying relative. Overload is often fear that’s being masked as being busy or as bravado.


Are you trying to do too many things too soon because you fear that if you don’t, everything is going to come crashing down? You may have put a self-imposed time limit on your success.


This happens with an all or nothing mentality, too. You might think that if you don’t accomplish something by a certain time, then it’s done and you can never rise again.


You should work hard to accomplish the changes you want in your life, but you’re not a juggler. And if you try to do too much at once, something is going to get dropped.


You’re Not Superman, So Hang Up the Cape


You can set yourself up for failure so easily. It’s hard to catch it happening sometimes because overload is sneaky. You do a little, then a little more, then a little more and then all of a sudden, your life is getting up, taking care of stuff, and falling into bed.


If you feel that all you ever do is work or take care of things, that’s a good sign that you’re dealing with overload. Look at your life right now. You might be neck deep in it. You might be dealing with too much stuff at work or because you’re trying to get a new career off the ground.


Or maybe you’re trying to find a career that you’d love. At home, your life might be one big errand, one big chore. You feel like you’re so busy taking care of a hundred things that you don’t even time to breathe.


You can’t take a shower without rushing because you’ve got stuff you have to take care of. Then if you add in the responsibilities of being there for a romantic partner, for your children, for your family and friends, you are at the boiling point - the tip where everything falls into failure.


All the committees that you’re on, the countless groups you’re in, the professional organizations, the social media tasks - it’s just overload. If everything that you give your time to builds stress (rather than takes it away), then your life is way off balance and you’re doing too much and need to let some things go.


Even if it’s a well-meaning task list, it can be too much – like if you want to lose weight, so join an exercise group. Then you have an exercise buddy that you walk with and talk with on the phone or by email.


Then you have an online forum that you participate in. Then you’re trying to change the way you eat and you’re using supplements, plus you have a weight loss coach, a life coach, a business coach.


You’re just laying the foundation for failure. Hit the stop button on everything that you’re doing. Now, ask yourself what you can’t live without. Apply that. Cut everything else loose.


If you’re reluctant to streamline your life so that you do succeed, then you need to hear this. You know why you might be overloading yourself and trying to do too much too soon?


Because you want to ensure failure. If you say that you’re too busy to reach your goals, then when you don’t, it doesn’t sting as much. You might do too much too soon because you want other people to accept you.


Or you’re trying to accept yourself if you have problems with low self-esteem. Trying to do too much too soon can be caused by the expectations of other people or yourself. But it can also be caused by inexperience, a lack of knowledge or being overeager. Superman knew better than to hang around Kryptonite. It prevented him from doing what he was born to do. Overload is your Kryptonite.


Identify the Signs of Overload


You know the side effect of overload? When you try to do too much too soon, it creates a messy mind. All sorts of mental clutter will show up and start demanding your time. You’ll be reminded of all the things you think you need to do, so you’ll jump on it.


Sometimes right in the middle of one project. You wouldn’t try to host a party in a messy house. You’d spend time organizing and cleaning and making sure that you were prepared for the event.


So then why would you try to change your life in the middle of a mental mess? You create a mental mess when you give in to overload. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Overload is something that’s within your control.


You deal with it by removing everything from your life that’s keeping you from what you want. So that means getting rid of certain things or people such as “advisors” because these can be people who want to pile onto you.


Or they can be naysayers so you feel like you have to do more and be more in order to “prove” that you’ve got this. Negative people can make you set yourself up for failure with overload.


But you have to remember that garbage in always produces more garbage. Sweep your life and remove the negative influences, but that also includes things like the junk food that you can’t say no to or the thing that gets in the way of you having the kind of relationship that you want.


It might be letting go of that expensive business coach that hasn’t helped you at all and you feel like you’re running in circles. There are common signs that you’re on overload. You forget to do things.


You have so much on your mind and you’re doing so many things that you drop the ball with some things that needed to get done. You’re doing everything except that which you should do.


The important things in your life are being squeezed out. You’re agreeing to do things or be there for events and you can’t keep that promise. You turn in work late. You miss your kid’s ball game.


Opportunities come to you and you plan to take advantage of that chance, but because you’re so overloaded, you don’t get to it in time and so you miss out. Overload is never the path to success.


It’s just stuff piling on top of you pushing you down and stressing you out. Don’t give in to the false belief that you need to do everything at once in order to succeed. Create your goals and focus on them one by one until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do.

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