When you woke up today, which of the following best describes your first thought:
a. Anything is possible
b. Opportunities await
c. I’m overwhelmed
d. I’m exhausted
e. I’m burned out
If your answer is A or B, you might be a motivational speaker. (Nod to Jeff Foxworthy.)
If your answer is C, D, or E, you might be a human.
(Actually, even motivational speakers answer C, D, or E sometimes–the honest ones do, anyway. It’s called being human and participating in this thing called life.)
Here at The Speakers Group, we have some of the best thinkers in the world, offering some of the best advice and expertise to help you live a better life and build a better business. Trouble is, though, good advice is meaningless if you’re so down you can’t act upon it.
That’s why, when I had the chance to ask interview “Fired Up and Ready!” speaker, Scott Toland, I asked him for his best advice to beat overwhelm and actually take charge of the day.
Scott should know. Besides being a popular conference speaker, known for helping audiences get fired up and ready with his brutally honest, no-holds-barred style–always with some good laughs mixed in–Scott is an entrepreneur and small business owner. He’s had his own name and his own money on the line since the age of 16. Since 1984, he’s run a full-service marketing and advertising company, providing clients with strategic business and marketing advice.
You can listen to my conversation with Scott on The Better Life/Better Business Podcast here, but in the meantime, here are two (and-a-half) of his best tips that you can put to work today:
1. Have a plan.
“There’s two specific things that I say as part of what we go along with being fired up and ready to take on the day. One of those is have a plan for your day. It’s really difficult to get yourself motivated to jump up and get going if there’s no plan.” — Scott Toland
Without a plan, Scott said, it’s like someone who sets out on a trip with no map and no idea where his or her final destination is. In that case, they rarely get to where they want to go.
“We always say, to get fired up and ready, the first thing you need to do is to have a good plan for your day,” Scott said.
Do you know where you want to go today? What you want to do? What you want to accomplish?
If not, pause for a moment right now to write down up to three priorities for today–or, if it’s late, for tomorrow. Keep these front and center to ensure you’re always moving in the right direction–or, when you’re not, you can quickly get back on track.
An added benefit of having a plan, Scott said, is that it keeps you from “spending an hour debating with yourself what you should be doing right now.”
By the way, have you ever had a great plan, and then some “surprise” totally threw you off track? Me, too. It happens. So what do you do about that?
1a. Stay flexible.
“You have to understand that life does happen and things are going to happen to that plan. The best-laid plans can be derailed quite easily if something significant comes up and presents itself as either a challenge or an opportunity–because sometimes the interruption in your plan is not always something bad. It can be something that’s really a great opportunity.” — Scott Toland
The solution, Scott said, is to stay focused on your priorities, but also “keep some flexibility in there.”
Don’t allow just anything to knock you off track, though.
At the end of the day, you can always find reasons why you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to accomplish on a given day. Are they justifiable reasons, though? Or did you just allow yourself to get distracted?
What is truly a justifiable reason to adjust your plan for the day?
“It better be something truly significant,” Scott said. “Something happened to your child, a business that you’re involved with calls, an issue or an opportunity, something that absolutely takes a 100% of your attention and it takes it right now, meaning, that you can’t do it in an hour.”
That is the question you can ask when something comes up that threatens to derail your plan:
Does this have to be done right now? Or could it wait an hour? Or, until later the day?
No matter what happens, remember: “None of us can predict an extraordinary circumstance that would impact us that day,” Scott said, “but we still have control over how we handle it and how we deal with it.”
Don’t give away your power to choose how you respond to the circumstances of the day.
Stay aware of what your real priority is–and what you ultimately want to accomplish–on a moment-by-moment basis. Stick to your game plan.
This takes practice, and it takes discipline, but over time, you can do it. (And if you lead an organization, you can hire Scott to help you and your team get better.)
Now that you have a plan, and you know how to stick to your plan, there’s one more key… because a good plan doesn’t matter if you never get going! That’s why Scott said…
2. Never hit the snooze button.
“The snooze button is the anti-fired-up-and-ready approach. As soon as you say, okay, today is my day and I’m getting up at 5:30 or six or 6:15 or whatever it is and… boom, the alarm goes off and you hit the snooze button, you just basically told yourself that you’re really not ready and you need a little more time.” — Scott Toland
You notice, Scott didn’t say, “Never hit the snooze button… unless you didn’t get enough sleep.”
He simply said, “Never hit the snooze button.”
There’s no denying that sleep deprivation is a major issue among adults today. The CDC calls it a public health problem, and a 2008 survey of 74,571 adults in 12 states found that 35.3% reported getting less than seven hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period, and 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.
The snooze button is not a solution to sleep deprivation, though. (How much better do you really feel after two or three extra nine-minute blocks of sleep?) The solution to sleep deprivation is better self care (including more sleep, more exercise, better eating, etc.)
What Scott is talking about when he says, “never hit the snooze button,” though, is attitude, motivation, sense of purpose… and that gets us back to the importance of having a plan.
Think about this: When you know there’s something really exciting coming up today, aren’t you more likely to jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off, no matter how much–or how little–sleep you got last night?
That’s what happens when you have a plan that you’re excited about. And that’s why it’s so helpful to make your plan the night before. Then when the alarm goes off in the morning, your response is more likely to be, “[this] is what I have to do today… let’s get to it!”
Do you want to get fired up and ready?
Do you want to take charge of your day?
Have a plan.
Keep some flexibility in there.
Never hit the snooze button.
This is your day. Go get it!