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Be deliberate about your future in 2021

by Michel van Rijmenant. Design your future through careful planning and deliberate action, to find success in 2021.

by Michel van Rijmenant. South Africa is now fully immersed in the second wave of COVID-19; which, if the data from other countries is to be believed, will inflict even more damage on the country’s healthcare system and economy. The first wave and the subsequent lockdown restrictions had a great impact on many businesses, from small start-ups to huge conglomerates. And for those that managed to survive, the second wave will present another challenge.

Additionally, our new work-from-home routines and the never-ending headlines of negativity have made us complacent, if not discouraged. However, even before the pandemic, being distracted by daily life and putting off tasks we know we should do was commonplace. So much so, that it even has its own term: akrasia. According to Oxford Reference, the word literally means “knowing what would be best to do, but doing something else”. A loose translation would be a lack of self-control. Basically, akrasia prevents you from following through on what you initially set out to do.

Throughout this pandemic, I’ve certainly suffered from akrasia multiple times. The weight of having just started a new business coupled with salaries that needed to be paid, losing contracts, clients not paying on time; and little support and resources to guide me, definitely pulled me into a funk. But as the spread of the coronavirus increased, I had to do what every small business owner needs to do at a time like this: I had to put aside my doubts and make extreme changes to the way my team and I worked.

And so far, we’ve managed to survive. Through a rebranding exercise, refining our core offerings and cutting expenses wherever we could, our little agency has lived to see another day. Here’s how we did it and how you can, too.

  • Design your future actions. By this, I simply mean removing obstacles that are distractions and can cause you to second-guess yourself. If the success of others on social media gives you doubts as to why your business is not doing as well, delete the apps off your phone or delegate the task of posting to another team member. If you get distracted while writing, try closing all other tabs and notifications on your computer so you can focus on the task at hand. This practice is called a commitment device and it helps improve your behaviour by reducing the effort required to implement a good behaviour; and increasing the obstacles of bad behaviours.
  • Just start. Right now. Starting is usually the most difficult part of any project. I generally find that once I’ve started working on a task, it’s less painful – and it usually isn’t as tedious as I thought it would be. What I’ve learnt this past year is that it is more important to get started than it is to worry about whether or not the project will be successful. If you can master one thing, it’s this: show up. This can be in the form of starting a new task each day or building on a task from the previous day. What helps is breaking down a big project into smaller chunks that take less time to complete. The reward of starting and completing each smaller task will become a good new habit.
  • Be deliberate about your intentions. On his blog, bestselling author James Clear describes how one simple trick can double your chances of success: instead of looking for motivation to start a task, state your intention to implement that behaviour at a specific time in the future. This is called an implementation intention and is a mini-plan of sorts. For example, if you have a big presentation due on Monday, stating your intention to work on it for 30 minutes each day this week, will make it more likely that you’ll perform that action.

These may not seem like world-changing steps but through careful planning and deliberate action, you’ll be inspired to act and find the success that’s been waiting for you.

 

Michel van Rijmenant is the CEO of Chimera Creative, a social development enterprise agency that produces editorial and commercial content solutions that motivate, inspire and connects audiences.

 

 

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