Do you dream of starting your own company? Writing a book? Switching careers? If you’re still dreaming, here’s how you can stop hitting snooze on your life’s to-do list.

The solution: “Doing is everything.”

That’s the mantra of Bernie Roth, author of The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life. For 40 years, Roth has taught a class at Stanford on getting things done. In his class, students come up with one big project and do it – no excuses.

Here are some tips from expert doer, Bernie Roth.

Make action a habit

When we have the choice between two different paths, we often unconsciously choose the third path: not doing anything.

“There are so many variables that it’s a waste of time to try to see the endgame,” writes Roth. Make action a habit by deciding quickly, acting now and analyzing later.

Remember, action is not scrolling through your Twitter feed or planning a Gilmore Girls NetFlix binge. Imagine what you could achieve if you spent even half of your TV or Internet time taking action towards writing that book?

Results don’t matter

When you look for positive reinforcement from finishing a project or perfecting a skill, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, train yourself to feel good about the four days in a row you spent time learning to play the guitar.

By taking action, you’re already doing much better than when you were just thinking or talking about learning to play the guitar. Go you!

Celebrate what you do, not what you accomplish.

Love your problems

So you’ve taken action, you’re doing something and you feel good about it – yay! But now you’re stuck on a problem. You have writer’s block, or you’ve been actively looking for a new job without success. According to Roth, problems are good for you.

Instead of avoiding the problem, try reframing it by asking: “What would it do for me if I solved this problem?”

For example, finding a new job might bring you more money, new co-workers and new responsibility. Each of these problems could be solved: Get a part-time job on the side, take a class to meet like-minded people, or propose a new project at work.

The problem you think you have is often not the problem you really have.

We all have that friend or colleague who seems to be able to do it all. They started a baking business for fun or trained for a second career while raising their kids. The big secret is that there is no big secret to their achievements or happiness.

We all have the same amount of hours in a day. Just do it already.


Nicole Wray is a member of Generation Y and a regular contributor to Workopolis.
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