“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations. You can hear other people’s wisdom, but you’ve got to re-evaluate the world for yourself.”—Mae Jemison, the first Black woman to travel space
If you are hoping to grow in the area of personal finance and organization, it is time to be really honest with yourself about your action style. How do you best stay on track with your goals? Are you a planner, the kind of person who gets more done when you set aside time each day to complete pre-determined tasks? Or are you a crammer, the type who is more productive when you are under a tight deadline? The basic question is: What motivates you?
Questions for Optimal Planning
Knowing your action style gives you expertise about yourself you can use as a foundation to achieve any task, whether it is reading a stack of loan papers or painting your children’s rooms. Begin by selecting a specific task and making some basic observations about it. Next, ask yourself the following questions about your action style:
- What motivates me? (Fear, guilt, desire, hope, change, competition, etc.)
- What helps me become “unstuck” when I am having difficulties getting started on a project or task? (Brainstorming, delegating, friend and family intervention, incentives, etc.)
Now ask yourself these follow-up questions to determine how to move forward:
- How can I best motivate myself to begin this task based on my action style?
- What are five things that I can do to move forward in completing this task?
Task: I want to organize my garage.
Observation: I notice that this task does not move off of my to-do list.
What motivates me? I am most motivated when I feel excited by a project and know all the steps required to complete it.
What helps me become unstuck? When I have trouble getting started, it helps to fantasize about how the project might look and feel once it is complete. I also find it useful to brainstorm freely about all the steps necessary to complete this task and recruit friends or family willing to help out. (The project seems far less daunting when it is broken down into smaller tasks and the work is shared.)
How can I best motivate myself based on my action style? I can spend fifteen minutes breaking down the project into itemized actions in a to-do list.
What are five things that I can do to move forward in this specific task?
1. Spend fifteen minutes brainstorming and creating a to-do list for this project.
2. Admire the neighbor’s beautifully organized garage to gain some inspiration and become excited about how great my own garage can look.
3. Congratulate the neighbor on doing such a wonderful job in keeping her garage clean and organized, and imagine how proud I would feel if I could do the same.
4. Include my husband/partner/neighbor/friend in my plan to organize the garage.
5. Set aside some time and complete five items on my to-do list.
Now you have an action plan to motivate you to begin your task and guide you through it. Take five steps forward and keep the momentum going! Once you know what gets you started and what keeps you driven, you can act efficiently to tackle each item on your to-do list, one step at a time.