It’s somewhat ironic that I’m just now getting around to my post on initiative, since I’ve been wanting to write it for about a month and a half. I suppose we’ll consider that our example of what not to do.
According to dictionary.com, “initiative” is “an introductory step; leading action” or “readiness and ability in initiating action; enterprise.” Clearly, initiative is that sense of get-up-and-go that characterizes great leaders and people of action. It’s that first step in a journey, that first building block we lay down to build a wall. It’s also one of the hardest things for me to practice. Back in January, I blogged about diligence. And, while I consider diligence, or perseverance, to be incredibly important, it can’t accomplish much without initiative. Unless you start a project, you have no project to be diligent about.
Creativity is a beautiful gift given to Mankind by the Creator Himself. It opens our world to so many possibilities. But it has to be channeled. How do we channel it? With initiative and discipline. Here are some things that can help you do that:
- Prioritize your life. My life is a balance of various responsibilities, interests, goals, and some chaos on occasion. I’m sure yours is similar. And some days, that mixture can be overwhelming. Do I go with this or that? Which is more important? We only have so many hours in a day. How are we going to spend them? You need to keep your priorities straight. Which comes first: God or me? Do I spend the more valued time in my day writing or surfing Pinterest? If you’re married, who comes first: your spouse or your neighbor? How important is sleep? Church? Family? Work? Play? The answers to these questions are as unique as each person; only you can choose where each part of your life falls on the priority list.
- Focus your energy. Starting a million different projects at once will just drain your energy and desire to finish any of them. Writers have dozens or hundreds of story ideas, but we must work on only a few at a time or we’d just become exhausted. It’s the same for anyone else: you only have so much energy and time. Use those assets wisely by choosing the the projects that are important at this moment.
- Learn to say “no.” This is such an important part of the puzzle for me. How many hours have I wasted on stuff that doesn’t matter because I just wouldn’t tear myself away? I have this week off of work, so I’m using it to get back on track with my writing and blogging. I got sick Sunday night, so that complicated things. But then, when I was feeling somewhat better Tuesday morning, I wasted at least an hour, if not more, on Youtube! Do you know how mad I am at myself? That time was wasted; it didn’t help me in least bit. And I remember thinking, “You need to get off.” But I didn’t. Especially in this age of Internet and instant distractions, we must learn to say “no,” or we won’t accomplish any of our goals.
- Remind yourself. I think that we sometimes discount the importance of reminders. God told the Israelites to set up stones of remembrance, and the concept holds true for us today. Remembering the past helps us make good decisions and live a full life. Without reminders of where we’ve been and where we’re going, it’s easy to get off track. I’ve never picked words for my year before, but this year, I have four. One of them is “initiative.” And when I’m facing a project I haven’t started or a job I haven’t done, I can remind myself of those words. Then I’m more likely to do those things. There are many ways to set reminders: sticky notes and To-Do lists are classics, but sometimes what you need is a friend who knows your goals and weaknesses or maybe even a graphic on your computer screen. Get creative: they’re job is to remind you.
How do you convince yourself to start things? Let me know in the comments: I’d love to learn something new!