Focus on the Process--Whether Growing a Business or Publishing a Book

We're an instant gratification society always focused on the finish line.

I just received another LinkedIn message today that basically asked, "Can you tell me how to get my book written, published, and launched? I've got a great keynote opportunity coming up in about 2 months, and I want to have the book ready by then. And I want to get some great high-visibility testimonials for it before we launch."

Although I do sometimes coach people on book writing and book publishing, I always turn down such requests as unrealistic.

Snap fingers. Done.

My response: Not exactly.

We think any prize can be bought if there's a strong will and a big enough bank account. You know someone headed to their 20-year class reunion who decides to lose 30 pounds and gets frustrated that the weight won't melt off in a month. You hear of a training manager deciding to increase enrollments in education programs by 20 percent in Q2--without any specific plan to do so other than to announce the new course titles. You read of a married couple wanting to climb out from under their $45,000 credit card debt, but with no plan of attack except to start carrying brown bag lunches to work.

Millennials accept their first job and then focus on how many rungs to the C-suite. Users open social media accounts and then immediately focus on how many followers they need to amass before their numbers are "acceptable" as a status symbol. Workers in late-career are advised to figure out their retirement "number" and check to see "if they're there yet."

Instead of this laser focus on the goal to the exclusion of the process, these people set themselves up for failure.

Try a different mindset to manage change of such magnitude: Think marathon, not sprint.

Step 1: Research and set a reasonable time frame to accomplish a big goal--whether to start an entrepreneurial business, write a book, increase your gross sales by 15 percent, or lose 30 pounds.

Step 2: Break the goal down into manageable, smaller steps and goals.

Step 3: Set and record deadlines to reach the interim goals.

Step 4: Create specific plans to reach each of the interim goals.

Step 5: Work your plans and complete them by the recorded deadlines.

If it sounds easy, that's because focusing on the process rather than the finish line IS easy. What's hard is talking yourself out of the notion that everything in business and life can be done as quickly as instant pudding. Some things take more than a minute.