Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul. – Niccolò Machiavelli
Also attributed (in slightly different words) to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What does that mean?
Which is more inspiring, putting a man on the moon, or going to the grocery store for a gallon of milk? Yes, that’s an extreme example, but you get the point. Do you get excited when you are making a grocery list? Do you get excited making today’s punch list?
On the other hand, how excited do you get when you plan something big, like a wedding or a vacation? Those are big plans, and indeed, they have the power to stir the soul. They get you excited, and the excited emotions then ignites the energy in your body that sustains you. Together, they see you through the emotional down cycles, and the low energy times, allowing you to persevere and complete the task, and enjoy the reward.
Why is energy and excitement important?
Energy and excitement, to me, are the key ingredients in getting something done. They help with the motivation and enthusiasm necessary to complete a non-trivial task. Energy and excitement aren’t necessary to take out the trash, but are vital if you are planning to do something big, like put together a wedding.
The excitement covers the emotional side, and helps you keep your resolve. A non-trivial task will last long enough that you will, at some point, go through a down cycle, and need something to keep your spirits up. Energy covers the physical side, as you will eventually burn out, get sick, or otherwise get that run-down feeling. Energy will help carry you through this period as well.
Where can I apply this in my life?
As I write this, I’m hiding in the basement of my brother-in-law’s house. They are putting together a wedding for one of their sons, this afternoon, to be specific. Obviously, the energy and excitement are at a fever pitch today, but it’s been present for somewhat over six months.
For those who have never planned a wedding, it might not seem all that complicated, there just doesn’t seem that there is all that much to do. I helped (in a small way) to plan my wedding, and there is a lot more going on than meets the eye, at least if all goes well. You only see the details when things go wrong.
Big plans make for lots of excitement, and the excitement helps drive the energy. We’re coming up on New Years, so think for a moment about your New Year’s Resolutions. Are you going to “lose a few pounds” or are you going to “work until you look good and fit into (insert size, waistline or other measure here) and look good doing it”?
The first is kind of blah. The second one has a little more excitement, a little more energy, doesn’t it? It does for me, anyway. The more exciting and energetic something is, the easier it is to keep at it. Would it be even more compelling if your plan had a deadline? What if you added “in time for summer beach-wear time” or “in time for my reunion” or “in time for someone’s wedding” at the end?
If you can add a compelling reason, either something you’re moving towards or away from, then that boosts the excitement and energy even more. Are you losing the weight to look great, to be healthier (moving towards) or to avoid a heart attack, high blood pressure, or stave off the onset of diabetes (moving away)?
I would recommend the ‘towards’ items be made personal, but the away not be made personal. Don’t say “I want to lose 20 pounds because I look like crap right now.” How motivational is that? Perhaps it might motivate you from a place of frustration, but how long can you go before frustration fades to apathy? I would go with something more compelling, like “When I am 20 pounds lighter, I will look great!”
If you haven’t started on your New Year’s Resolutions yet, grab some paper and write a few things down. What are you committed to doing in 2012, no matter what? Start by writing down the goals. Lose 20 pounds. Wow, that’s exciting. That has energy. Not really, but it’s a start.
Once you have your list of goals, make them exciting, give them energy. Come up with a compelling reason to make sure you keep going through all life’s trials and tribulations. Set a deadline for completing the goal. The more excitement you can work into your goals, your resolutions, the better you will do.
Go big, get motivated, then get started on the New Year. It’s going to be a great one for me! And I bet it’ll be a great year for you as well!