4 Steps to Conquer the Impossible

Have you ever taken on a project that seemed overwhelmingly complex or even impossible?  Or wanted to accomplish an audacious goal, but procrastinated due to the feeling you were in over your head and had no idea where to start?

impossible

“Impossible” Request

When my kids were younger, they asked me if I could build them a treehouse.  The question seemed ludicrous to me as I barely owned any tools.  The fact that I never had a father, meant that I didn’t have any experience in carpentry or woodworking. I had no skill in fixing things let alone building them from scratch.  The project seemed impossible as I didn’t think I could do it.  Someone else might be able to tackle this, not me.

I also didn’t want to let my kids down, so I said I would give it a shot.  When I asked the kids what they wanted the treehouse to look like, they asked for the world.  They wanted a treehouse with:

  • a ladder
  • a slide
  • a trap door
  • a bucket pulley system
  • a fireman pole
  • a zip line
  • and a bridge (which likely meant adding a second treehouse)

Before I could get the kids to tell me what the bridge would connect to, my son said he even wanted a zip line that would take him from his second-floor bedroom window to the bridge on the treehouse. I knew I was in over my head, even before zip line idea.

4 Simple Steps

We built the treehouse within a couple of months, despite having no clue where to start, nor any confidence in my ability to use power tools.  I took the following steps to get to go from crazy idea to reality.

  1. Visualize success.  Picture the goal and what it would look like. Don’t be afraid to make this a big goal that makes you feel uncomfortable. Michael Hyatt calls this “imagining the possibilities.”  I imagined the joy in my kids’ faces while playing on the treehouse. After consulting with the kids, I drew a concept sketch. We went big. The sketch included two tree houses with crisscrossing slides.
  2. Make a plan. A plan is crucial to outlining the steps to be taken.  You don’t need to figure out the entire plan right away.  Identifying the next couple of actions can help you get started, which will eventually provide insight to the rest of the path.
    • It’s ok to get help. I got some outside help in the form of a couple different treehouse design books and took notes at park and school playgrounds. I also had help from my neighbors and some of their tools when it came time to start building.
  3. Make it manageable.  Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, I broke the project down into phases. I decided that I would just build a single treehouse with a balcony, ladder, and bucket the first year. The rest would wait until the next year.   I wanted to start small and gain momentum to avoid getting overwhelmed and stuck with an unfinished project.  The books also gave me some practical step-by-step instructions along with a starting point for the wood and hardware required.
  4. Take action. With a plan and list of materials needed in hand, we just had to go to the home improvement store and get to work. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The next best time is today.”

Outcome

We built the first treehouse in less than 2 months. The following year I built the second treehouse and the bridge after seeing that building a treehouse wasn’t impossible. Each subsequent year, we added the slides, a fireman pole, zip line etc. to keep things interesting. You won’t find out treehouse on the show Treehouse Masters, but that doesn’t matter as our family built it together.

In case you were wondering, the zip line did not run from my son’s bedroom window. It went from the treehouse to our neighbor’s tree instead.  Apparently, my wife (who has better judgment) and our insurance company found that idea problematic.

We made mistakes, which required multiple trips to the store, but we learned lessons along the way.  My kids also enjoyed helping their old man in the building phases.

Conclusion

While the treehouse project seemed impossible at first, it proved to be achievable, even for a person with no experience.  All it took was visualizing success, making a plan, tackling the project in manageable parts, and taking action.

What seemingly impossible goals have you tackled in your life?

 

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Learn to Be Brief

Get Your Message Across By Saying Less

Have you ever suffered through a long-winded and confusing presentation or sales pitch? While the speaker is rambling on, you find yourself wondering what point the speaker is trying to make or lost in other thoughts.

brief communication

Nearly all of us have found ourselves in this situation before. Have you ever wondered if your audience feels the same way when you are presenting an idea? Why do we find ourselves in this situation more often?

While email and the Internet have given us the ability to find information and make purchases much faster, the downside to these tools is information overload. The average office employee in 2015 received over 100 emails each day. This number is expected to increase by 5% every year for the foreseeable future.

So how do we avoid being “that speaker” that meanders through a discussion with no identifiable purpose?

Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less

Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less is a book, written by Joe McCormack, that can make you an effective and “lean communicator” in very little time.

The book explains not only why it’s important to be Brief, but also gives you the tools to communicate clearly and concisely. Joe even helps you determine when and where to be Brief. The book is easy to read and provides readers with an action plan to put the principles into practice.

How to Become Brief

You can get your own copy of Brief from Amazon, which can also be found on our resources page. I have also attended the Brief course and workshops and highly recommend them to those in the military and executives alike. Check out Joe’s website at http://thebrieflab.com or follow The Brief Lab on LinkedIn.

 

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Improve Your 2017 Without Making Resolutions

How many times have you made resolutions in the past that didn’t stick? Studies show that most people give up on their resolutions within a few weeks.

Goals

Best Year Ever

Two years ago I wanted to make a change in my life but had failed at resolutions in the past. That’s when I came across Michal Hyatt’s Best Year Ever. Best Year Ever is a five-day course that provides you with an alternative to resolutions.

I tried it out and accomplished goals over the year that, in hindsight, improved my relationship with my family and church.

  • Marital Goals: These goals included going on regular dates and taking four-weekend getaways with my wife.
  • Parental Goals: I also wanted to spend intentional one-on-one time with each of my children. That year I took each kid on a father-son/father-daughter weekend.
  • Spiritual Goals: I joined a couple of small groups at my church and conducted two ministries that year.

The methodology behind Best Year Ever can also work for you. Registration for Best Year Ever is closed right now, but I’ll provide you with a quick summary below.

Goals Not Resolutions

The difference maker with Best Year Ever is that you create goals and make a plan with a deadline. Resolutions made without a plan or a deadline are merely aspirations. Michael walks you through determining the Next Actions required to get started and gain momentum.

SMARTER Goals

Many of you have heard of making SMART goals. Best Year Ever takes it one step further and has you make SMARTER goals. SMARTER goals are spelled out below.

  • Specific. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 3% body fat by June 1st is specific.
  • Measurable. There should be a metric to identify when the goal is attained.
  • Actionable. The goal should start with an action verb.
  • Realistic. Attaining a personal record on a triathlon is realistic for all. Winning a gold medal in the Olympics will be realistic for a select group.
  • Time-bound.  Assign a deadline to your goal.
  • Exciting. The goal should be compelling and stretch you outside your comfort zone.
  • Relevant. As Michael says, we are all in different seasons in our lives. Some goals will be relevant at only certain points of our lives.

Additional Considerations

In addition to making your goals SMARTER, there are a few other steps to ensuring you achieve your goals.

  • Identify your Why. Identifying your motivations or reasons behind making your goals will help you when the going gets tough.
  • Limit yourself to 7-10 goals maximum for the year.
  • Share goals with a select group to help you with accountability.
  • Not having everything planned out is OK. Identifying a couple Next Actions required is good enough to get started. The path will become clear as you gain momentum.
  • Schedule time for your goals and put them on your calendar.
  • Regularly review your goals. Weekly is recommended.
  • Keep your goals visible to avoid the old adage “out of sight is out of mind.” Your computer, fridge, or bathroom mirror are good spots to keep your goals visible.
  • Getting help is completely OK.

Some of My 2017 Goals

Despite going through the course a couple years ago, I use 5 days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to go through the Best Year Ever process. My goals this year include starting a Venture Crew (co-ed Boy Scout organization focused on high adventure activities), taking my family on a European vacation to visit our extended family, and increasing subscribers and reach for this website.

Conclusion

Make 2017 a productive year by setting goals instead of resolutions. Make your goals SMART or SMARTER and start with the next actions required in order to gain momentum. Maintain momentum in achieving your goals by staying connected with your key motivations. I encourage you to give this process a shot as it can improve your year. It definitely improved mine.

 

Question: What goals will you set for yourself in 2017?

 

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