I played soccer from age 7 until age 32, when I finally put my pride aside in favor of healing a thrice surgically repaired knee. Funny thing, when I stopped playing soccer, I got really bad out of shape. Who knew? I had never “worked out”, because I just went to soccer practice or played a game, either one of which is 90-120 minutes of extreme exercise. That kept me in shape…and it ruined my knees. So, shortly thereafter, I had to find something to replace soccer. What finally worked for me was a plan.
In 2000, a friend gave me a copy of Bill Phillips’ “Body For Life” book. Zoinks! That’s an eye opener, and it showed me the value of (1) a vision for your own fitness and (2) a daily plan for how to get there. Today, I work out 5 or 6 days a week, doing one of the following each day, rotating through them so I don’t do the same thing two days in a row:
- Run 3 or 4 miles @ a 10-minute/mile pace
- Upper Body Workout (chest, shoulders, triceps, biceps)
- Lower Body Workout (quads, hammies, calves)
- Abs Workout
The running is somewhat weather dependent, so I make sure I check to see what the weather is the night before, so I can plan and get mentally ready, not to mention getting appropriate clothes ready. The point is, I know exactly what workout I’m going to do that day. It’s a plan.
Same thing applies to startups. You have to have a vision, which will grow and form over time, but should change very little. To get to that vision, you have to put one foot in front of the other, by which I mean you have to have a micro plan for each day, week, month, and year to get there.[Side note: First, if you’re working a startup, you MUST EXERCISE, lest you burn out, have a cardiac event, or simply lose the edge.]
Every day, my first task – after my workout and lots of coffee – is my list. I list everything I have to, need to, want to get done today. Of course, this list has to align with what I want to get done this month, this year, and in the whole vision of my startup, but it’s a micro view. For example, “Get AWS on the phone for 20 minutes” is a task on my list today. It was on there yesterday, and the day before. It stays until it gets done, and I think there’s a 70% chance I could actually speak to a human being at AWS today. Go figure.
I’ve had days in which I skipped making the list, either out of urgency to accomplish something else, or because I was too focused (ok, maybe obsessed) on another micro task. Those days suck. I get nothing done, and I’m lost. I hate looking back on those days at the end of the day, because it’s so easy to see why I didn’t get anything done: I had no plan.
What’s your vision? What’s your plan? How do you work it?