Sometimes life feels like the frayed end of rope, your frazzled pieces flying at the mercy of the wind. You have the feeling that if you could just capture those loose ends and twist them back together, you could regain some sense of control. Or perhaps you’ve just landed in a rut and can’t find the motivation to move forward. Either way, it’s easy to get bogged down in the details and the overwhelm. What if there was a little trick to get us “unstuck” whenever we find ourselves in that rut? Well, thankfully, there is! For the letter J in our Everyday, BETTER! series, let’s unlock the powerful habit of “Just…”
“Just do it.” Nike has been inspiring millions with this simple statement since 1988 (despite its rather creepy origins!). “Just say no.” Nancy Reagan gave voice to this powerful anti-drug message in 1982 at Longfellow Elementary School in California, and it’s still heard today. How do these little words that make two of the most memorable lines in advertising history, motivate so many to do great things? Or maybe it’s just one little word…?
“I could do ABC if I could/would just XYZ !” Fill in the blanks! JUST – pretty powerful for a small word that is so boring, nondescript, even meaningless out of context! Here are six habits that will help harness the potential of that word to get you “unstuck” and move you forward.
Six Powerful “Just…” Habits
1. Just…write it down.
Do a brain dump.
Set a timer for 10 minutes and start writing! If it comes to mind, write it down on a master list. That 10 minute limit is key, however. No doubt you could keep writing for hours, but that book of a to-do list will just bring you down. Usually the most pressing items come to mind in the first minutes, and besides, you’ll do this more than once! 😉
Break large projects down into manageable chunks.
Define the milestone goals that must be met in order to complete the project, then list the tasks required to meet each goal. Use the same process to break those tasks down further if necessary. Remember, you are not working in stone here — as you move forward with your project you will find additional tasks you need to add, and some that you can delete, so don’t sweat perfection at this point. Set your timer again and just start writing.
Create your weekly or daily to-do list.
Scan your master list for the items that must be completed first (pay the bills, pick up the dry cleaning for Friday’s event, prepare the backyard for this weekend’s block party). Two caveats here: 1) Don’t put too much on your daily/weekly list or you will be derailed by the unexpected things that always come up. 2) If you are completely overwhelmed and just starting this process, focus on the “must do’s” in the beginning. As you make progress, start adding the tasks that move you toward the big projects you want to tackle.
2. Just…get it on the calendar.
FACT: If it doesn’t make it to my calendar, it doesn’t happen, period. How often we say, “We should get together!” and never do. If it’s important to you, put it on your calendar today!
3. Just…do something new.
Do you ever feel stuck because you are bored? Daily life, by definition, involves a whole lot of repetition and once in a while we all need a change of scenery. Once in a while you just need to do something different — meet a friend for lunch, take time to enjoy a day trip, tackle a new DIY project, anything out of the ordinary! There is nothing like a temporary change of focus to get you over that unmotivated, creativity-draining boredom hump!
4. Just…do the next thing.
I first heard this phrase when my dear friend lost her husband to cancer. She was, understandably, overwhelmed not only at the prospect of life without him, but with the countless details that needed her attention. Someone told her to “Just do the next thing,” and those words got her through some tough times. Often, “the next thing” is all we can focus on, but it is enough to prevent becoming paralyzed with overwhelm.
You don’t need permission for a little down time. Read a book for a few minutes, take a nap, or do what I did last night and leave the dinner dishes so I could sit outside and enjoy the beautiful evening. Repeat after me: “I don’t need permission to enjoy a few moments!”
We’ve all heard it: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I have a tendency to procrastinate because either I really don’t want to do something, or it just seems so big I don’t know where to start. Whether you want to write a book or just tackle that pile of paper clutter, once you do that very first thing, things usually start to flow. Sometimes we even get lucky and what we dreaded wasn’t so bad. Then other times it takes all. torturous. day. 🙄 Either way, we’ve moved forward because we just started.
Today, I have to just start. I can’t scale that mountain of end-of-school-year grading until I pick up the first project. How will you harness the power of Just… today? Motivate us all by sharing in the comments! I’ll be giving a shout-out to my favorite comments in the next issue of The Personal Letters, and you just may be featured! Not yet receiving The Personal Letters? No worries, you can get on the list here (you’ll get access to all of the resources in the exclusive Members’ Only Library, too — it’s a win/win!).
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