The Phrase If Then
The phrase if then always speaks of a conditional situation. If you do this, then I’ll do that. This means you have to fulfill your end of a bargain before I’ll start to move on any sort of agreement.
Many legal contracts are put in place with this stipulation. The first part of the proposition needs to be true and fulfilled before the second can even be accessed.
The Phrase If When
When moving from if then toward if when, many see the two phrases as being similar. However, if when is more assertive and actionable. To me, the word when is a scheduling word. When you say when, you put it on your calendar to actually do a project. When means there’s an actual start date.
If you want to move from if then to if when, you need to start. (see: Proactive vs. Reactive) This article will give you some ideas on how do to just that and what to do first, especially if you are feeling stuck and stymied right now. You may not know where to begin to reinvent, retool or regroup and you are not alone! We’ll cover three steps here: Just Start, Develop a Routine and Don’t Quit. Starting is first.
Step One: Just Start
When I think of starting, I think about pushing off a running block at the start of a race or the gates opening releasing horses for a horse race. Also, watching a swimmer jump into a pool and swim laps. All of those are actions and is the first step for moving the phrase if then to if when. We hear about action from personal athletic trainers, from business coaches and even Nike Shoes with their slogan Just Do It. Phil Knight, creator of Nike, believed in his shoe product so much that he didn’t wait for some sort of guaranteed distributorship or sales, he just started. He made almost no profit from Nike the first several years. Instead, he reinvested every penny of profit to buy more shoes to sell. He saw a small window of opportunity to make Nike huge and that’s why he wanted to grow as fast as possible. In fact, Phil even took a full-time job at an accounting firm for a few years to provide a stable income for his new wife and kids. This was while he was growing Nike! The book Shoe Dog, the memoir by Phil Knight, is a fascinating read! (also see: FREE Side Business webinar)
There is an emotional hurdle to get started, especially if you’ve taken any sort of break to have a family are caregiving, are facing unhealthy fear of the future, are steeped in discouragement about current events or even mentally unsure and confused in what to do next. Risk is a normal part of life, but how we mitigate it and evaluate it can minimize the riskiness of a venture.
Some face procrastination. Procrastination can come in many forms. Surfing social media when bored, binging on Netflix (especially when working at home!), or never getting to that diet you’ve talked about for months, meanwhile feeling sluggish and horrible about yourself. Create a plan, then just get moving. Momentum creates more momentum—just imagine trying to start the engine of a car and when it finally catches, you just sit! No! You go! You can’t worry about going slow—that is a mind game and if you start comparing yourself with others, it can be even more deadly! (see: Regain Your Momentum)
Step Two: Develop a Routine
One of the best ways to achieve results from most any project or program is to put together a new small habit that will move you forward, then schedule it as a regular routine. Repetition is powerful, but exact repetition is even more powerful. In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he defines an atomic habit as a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; and a component of the system of compound growth.
Routines apply to most every field. I had to develop a routine in my rehearsal for even walking on a stage. At the beginning of a music stage show, large or small, I had a decision to make when standing on the wings of the stage. There’s a moment mentally I had to face to actually step out in front of the audience, even though I’d rehearsed that moment over and over. The butterflies were still there, churning with adrenaline in my stomach as I had to dismiss any thought of tripping.
The routine of taking slow, even breaths, then intentionally taking steps forward to begin the show set all parts in motion. Since it was a routine I’d practiced so many times, the progression became more automatic once I played or sang the first note. So it is with life. Rehearse where you’re going, then take a slow, even breath and step out on your stage.
Step Three: Don't Quit!
Even if your plans change and you decide to pivot, don’t quit! This is a mindset decision. Your mental thoughts are very powerful and affect your actions. Feelings and emotions can definitely get in the way and learning to control your thoughts, then actions to not quit is a decision we all need to make proactively. One of the most inspiring quotes on perseverance is by the British runner Derek Redmond. When asked, How do you become successful? He replied, The easiest, and most relevant answer, is to get up just one more time than you’ve been knocked down.*
Derek expected to medal in the 400m race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but a hamstring injury forced him to pull out during the semi-finals. Redmond decided to limp on and his father, Jim, made his way onto the track to help him continue. Just before the finish, Jim let go of his son to let him finish on his own, prompting an ovation by the crowd of 65,000 in the stands. It gives me chills just to think of that scene. (see: Multiple Setbacks)What is Your Excuse?
What is Your Excuse?
Derek could have given up completely, but he decided to finish the race. Determination, perseverance and tenacity are the words that come to mind when looking at what he did in 1992. You can come up with excuse after excuse about not finishing, not working or even not starting. Most of you don’t have a pulled hamstring, competing at an elite level in an Olympic race. But you are in your own race.
You can keep saying if then through a recession, through financial difficulties or through a pandemic. Or you can take action with if when by first starting, then developing a good routine that not only works for you, but will move you ahead with your goals. And lastly, determine that you won’t quit. Write those words down somewhere where you’ll see them every day. You may not finish first in a physical race, but you’ll finish in life and business and you’ll be in a much better place for it.
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