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10/11/2011

Breaking The Feel-Good Addiction:

12 Steps To Get You On The Path To Achieving Big Things

Often, there�s nothing more satisfying than crossing a task off of your ever growing to-do list. In fact, it�s a feeling that can be addictive. Once we cross off one task, we go after the next one so we can experience that feeling all over again. These are the easy, albeit often unproductive, tasks that make us feel good. They may not get you any closer to accomplishing your greater goals, but at least you�ve checked a couple of things off your to-do list.

Unfortunately, claims Milazzo, this addiction comes at a high price, because that cheap check-mark high is guaranteed to frustrate, overwhelm, and stress you out in the long term. You feel busier than ever but are accomplishing less of real value. �I too am a happy checker-offer,� says Milazzo, author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman.

�Working for two hours on a huge project I won�t finish doesn�t release the same amount of endorphins as cleaning out my inbox. After two hours or so, I want to check something off my list. That�s when I indulge my own feel-good addiction and attack the stack of bills, plow into the financials, or grab my mouse to viciously click through my e-mail.

�Maybe it�s the curse of the modern world, but often, our important tasks fall prey to the feel-good addictions of easy ones,� says Milazzo. �By majoring in minor things, we never get to our big commitments. Breaking these addictions opens the door to achievement. What you engage and focus on is where you will yield results.

�Going after larger accomplishments � an addiction to momentum � is a far more lasting high than the transitory feel-good of checking off trivial tasks. Once you�re engaged in accomplishing what I call the �Big Things,� you�ll approach routine matters with laser-sharp focus, quickly deleting, delegating, and experiencing fewer distractions. More important, your creativity and productivity catch fire, and the momentum keeps you pumped. You�ll glide through your day full of confidence and satisfaction from achieving significant milestones.�

Here are 12 easy steps to help you stop doing what feels good and start doing what matters:

1) Define three �big things.� Identify three Big Things that connect to your passionate vision, then choose one to schedule your day around. For example, your Big Things might be to get promoted, live by the ocean, or achieve financial security. So today you might agree to take on a high-profile work project in order to put you in the running for that promotion. Or you might start the search for your beachfront property. Or maybe you�ll develop a household budget. �Set a target date for each of your Big Things,� suggests Milazzo. �And begin working steadily toward achieving each of them. Start strong and you�ll experience genuine elation from achieving real goals and solving real problems.�

2) Challenge your plan of action. Often, we take a tiny step toward achieving a Big Thing to save us from having to make a big commitment and to ward off feeling guilty about not going after our passions. For example, flipping through a magazine on beach properties might make you feel better, but it isn�t really helping you toward achieving your goal. �Constantly ask yourself, Am I really going for my goal all the way? Or if it�s too tough, will I quit?,� advises Milazzo. �Make sure your plan of action is do-able. Assess each step when you are taking it and make sure it�s the right thing for you to be engaged in at that time.�

3) Turn off cyberspace. There�s no greater blow to productivity than breaking your concentration to reply to an e-mail as soon as it hits your inbox. If you�re doing nothing but responding to e-mail, you�re bouncing around like a pinball. It�s also important to keep in mind that the purpose of e-mail is not to generate more e-mail. Unless a response is necessary in order for the sender to move ahead on a task or project, it�s okay to let them have the last word.

�I�m not saying that e-mail isn�t important, but there is a time and place for it,� says Milazzo. �If you let it, it will absolutely distract you from more important tasks. If you can�t bring yourself to close your e-mail box, at least turn off the sound alert and pop-ups so you won�t have the annoying �ping� sound and flash notification every time a potential time-waster drops out of cyberspace and into your mental space.�

4) Turn off the TV. Every hour you sit in front of the TV you�re accomplishing nothing. If you�re struggling to let go of this feel-good addiction, start by turning your TV off one day or one-hour a week. Instead, spend that time working on your Big Thing.

�If you dare to fully realize the phenomenal power of TV-banishment, take a week off from watching,� suggests Milazzo. �You might already be gasping from withdrawal pains, but I guarantee that if you do, you�ll be taking back a significant amount of your time and making something wickedly powerful happen. You�ll never again find yourself saying, �I�m too busy to ���

5) Tame the social media beast. Social media can be just as time consuming as watching TV. It�s fun to read the details of friends, family�s, and clients� lives and to see the photos they�ve posted on Facebook. It makes us feel good when they �like� something we�ve posted or when we�re tagged in one of their photos. That�s one reason social media is so addicting � it�s like experiencing human hugs all day long. Now that you understand why you like it, it�s time to tame the beast.

�Social media can quickly move from a social communication to an obsessive compulsive disorder,� says Milazzo. �You can get caught up in all of the things to do there � the games and other ancillary applications. That�s my big issue with social media.

�Wickedly successful women avoid those meaningless feel-good addictions. We spend our time growing our lives and careers, not fertilizing our virtual fields. We measure our lives in seconds, not just hours and days. Social media is a great thing and can be a valuable tool. It�s changing the way we connect and communicate. Just make sure you�re using it to advance relationships and meaningful engagement.�

6) Set aside sacred �momentum time.� Momentum time is the precious time you are able to set aside for yourself each day to work uninterrupted toward achieving one of your Big Things. To carve out time, examine every activity and decide how to eliminate it, delegate it, hire it out, or do it faster.

�My office opens at 8:00am,� says Milazzo. �Often by 7:50 there�s a line of penitents forming outside my door: employees asking for my input on projects, directors telling me why they won�t meet a deadline, and the janitor asking me to diagnose a toenail fungus. Knowing this madness is coming, I use my quiet momentum time, the early morning hours before the office opens, to hunker down and work on those projects that need the most concentration.

�If part of your day is rarely interrupted (such as early morning or late evening), reserve it for momentum time. Keep your momentum time sacred. Use phrases such as, �I�ll be available in one hour. What time after that works best?� Start your day with a two-hour uninterrupted chunk, then gradually add more two-hour momentum sessions each day. Claim your momentum time and you�ll find those lost hours you�ve been looking for.�

7) Interrupt the interrupters. Statistically, you�re interrupted every seven minutes in the workplace. Today we�re bombarded by a plethora of interruptions that we invite into our mental space � e-mail pop-up notifications, Facebook postings, text messages, Twitter streams, and blinking message lights.

�Whether you�re working at home with family around you, in an office with colleagues, or camped out in a Starbucks with your laptop, you�re going to be interrupted,� says Milazzo. �But there�s really only one person responsible for interrupting the work you�re doing and keeping you from getting to your Big Thing.

�That person is probably responsible for more interruptions than anyone else in your home or office. Who is the responsible party? That�s right � you. It�s more important than ever to work with focus and a consciousness about whether you�re on or off focus. If you can interrupt the interrupter, you�ll get a lot more done.�

8) Alternate momentum time with �weed pulling.� Miscellaneous routine tasks are like weeds in your garden: we all have them and no matter how often we get rid of them, they never go away. Yet they do have to be handled, and pulling a few weeds can provide a restorative break from more intensive work. Separate tasks into two categories � Big Things and weeds. After each momentum session, devote 15-30 minutes to handling e-mail, phone calls, and other minor tasks.

�Don�t try to tackle all your weeds at once,� advises Milazzo. �Prioritize. Set aside a three-hour block periodically to do the deep weeding and organizing. But if you just need a five-minute break from your Big Thing, don�t tackle the weeds. They will only distract. Use those five minutes to refresh your energy with a stretch or a bit of nourishment.�

9) Focus on one Big Thing at a time. When you engage in too much at once, you risk finishing nothing. �Finish your first Big Thing or at least reach a significant milestone before embarking on the next,� says Milazzo. �I have difficulty following my own advice on this, and do have to tame the beast of �too many good ideas.� But on this, do as I say, not as I do.�

10) Use technology to your advantage. With the advancements in smartphones and the development of iPads and miniature-sized laptops, we can stay connected and work from almost anywhere. The trick is recognizing when you are using these technologies to your advantage, and when they are distracting you from better things.

�When I travel, I can check my e-mail on my iPhone before I even pick my luggage off the conveyer belt,� says Milazzo. �So when I hit the hotel I�m ready to accomplish Big Things � the reasons I traveled to begin with. Likewise, I know when to turn it off. For example, when I�m at a friend�s house or when I�m speaking to a group, I turn it off. In both of these situations, the people I�m with deserve my undivided attention, and I know that I�ll get more out of the experience if I�m not open to those distractions.�

11) Let go of bad ideas. Successful women can be successful at many things, so it is tempting to go after all kinds of ideas, even ones that are not so great. �When we decided to update our training curriculums for our online and live programs at Vickie Milazzo Institute, we put extensive time into customizing the material to each format,� notes Milazzo.

�Midway we realized we were creating a monster. Every future revision meant double the work. It still breaks my heart to think of the hours that went into this before we wised up and created one curriculum that worked for both formats. That�s an example of a great idea that wasn�t so great after all. When an idea isn�t so great, you have to be brave enough to cut your losses and let it go. Doing so will free you to work on the next genuine Big Thing.�

12) Safeguard your momentum. Accept that you won�t please everyone. Someone is bound to be unhappy about the changes you make to focus on your Big Things. A friend might get upset because you can no longer meet for lunch on Wednesdays. Your spouse might complain because you won�t run his errands on a weekday. �Stop feeling guilty and stay true to your goals,� says Milazzo. �Surround yourself with friends, family, and peers who support your vision. Discard all discouraging messages. These are your passions and goals, not anyone else�s.�

�Wickedly successful women make big commitments,� concludes Milazzo. �They go after big goals. As I like to say, they engage big. They don�t settle for the small-time achievements that lead to the feel-good addiction. So put that to-do list away, and start thinking about the Big Things you want to achieve.�

Vickie Milazzo, RN, MSN, JD, is author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman. Milazzo shares the innovative success strategies that earned her a place on both the Inc. lists of Top 10 Entrepreneurs and the Top 5000 Fastest-Growing Companies in America. Featured in the New York Times as the pioneer of a new profession, she built a professional association of 5,000 members. Author, educator, and nationally acclaimed speaker, this multimillionaire entrepreneur shares her vast experience with thousands of women.


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