One of my favorite television shows of all time was the comedy “Mad About You” starring Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a married couple living in New York. In one particular episode circa 1997, Paul, a filmmaker, has purchased a new wallet and is cleaning out the old one by going through the various slips of paper one by one. He’s complaining that the papers, some years and years old, all contain movie ideas he’s never acted on.
He opens one and reads it out loud. (And I am paraphrasing here because I couldn’t find the exact quote no matter how hard I tried).
“A cop tries to save passengers on a bus loaded with a bomb that will explode if the bus goes less than 50 MPH.”
Speed had come out three years earlier in 1994.
Paul rolls his eyes and mutters that if he had acted on just one good idea he’d be a wealthy and famous director by then. And he’s right (for a fictional character). We all have lots of good ideas, great ideas, in fact. A solid first step is writing them down regularly, as soon as they hit you. AND then you need to pick a great idea and move forward with it.
Sometimes the challenge with this is that we get ahead of ourselves and we psych ourselves out of pursuing the idea. We realize we don’t really know anything about the War of 1812 so it would be ludicrous to write a rock musical about it. Or we don’t have the money to rent kitchen space if it turns out our grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies are something Target would pay us to carry . Or we don’t have childcare coverage when Oprah asks us to be on her show and then the publisher begs us to do a book tour across the US.
It’s a distraction really, to look at the big picture in such away that it overshadows our ability to take smaller steps towards our larger goals. So here, in one simple sentence is the fastest way to get you from the first inklings of a great idea to reaching your goal. It’s a question to ask yourself over and over again that will focus you on the here and now and remove the distraction of the largest scheme of things so you can get to the business of moving forward. It’s surprisingly simple, but don’t underestimate it’s power to help you meet and exceed your goals.
“What is the very next step I have to take?”
Answering this and then taking action on the answer will lead you, step by step like a marked path all the way to the end. If you get to a point where you can’t answer this question then you’re looking too far out onto the path. Squint your eyes, look down at your feet instead of the road ahead and the answer will present itself.
If your reading this then my guess is you have some pretty active goals you’re working on. Take a moment to ask the question, and really listen to the answer.
Now go and make that step happen.