How to move your most important initiatives down the track.

We all have big goals we want to achieve. However, the goal setting isn’t the hard part. It is not enough to know what you want to do. It’s what you do do that matters. In order to achieve your goals, you have to take action. A lot of action.

The good news is that to accomplish your most important goals you don’t need to make things happen in giant steps. You simply have to make steady progress. I find it useful to think of my most important initiatives as trains. The objective is simply to move the trains down the track.

The Process

1. Identify your trains.

Start by focusing on your 1 to 5 most important initiatives. Remember, 5 is the max. More than 5 dilutes your attention and your energy. This is why we don’t have the Jackson 6, or go around high six-ing each other.

2. Start each day with your list of trains.

They could be businesses you want to build, fitness goals, work projects, passion projects, volunteer efforts, or travel plans. In fact, your trains can be anything you want to do, make or accomplish. Heck, your train could be to catch drops of Jupiter or to meet Virginia.

3. Write down an action you can take that day to move each train down the track.

Determine the next step in the process that will help you make progress. Always be thinking about the next task to take on, like A-ha said.

4. Take that action.

Some actions will move you inches. Some will move you feet. Some will move you yards. And others will move you miles down the track. However, all actions, large or small, will get you closer to your goal.

Keep Moving

The key is to get your trains movings. Your biggest goals, hopes, and dreams are like locomotives. They are heavy, powerful, and hard to get going. Simply getting the wheels to start turning can feel like a monumental task. Especially if your goal is to build a monument.

But once your trains start moving it is easier to pick up speed, like Sandra Bullock. You will soon find yourself taking more and bigger actions faster. Before you know it you will have momentum on your side. Your actions become habits. And you will start ticking off tasks like the clicking and clacking of a train speeding down the track. (By ticking off I mean completing. Not making-mad, like my parents used to say to me.)

At the end of each day, check to see if you moved your trains down the track. The answer should be clear. You either took action or you didn’t. If you did take action, note whether you moved inches, feet, yards, or miles. Of course, these are meant to be symbolic relative measurements. They translate to small, medium, large and Neil Armstrong-sized steps forward.

If you take no action your train will remain in the station. But through consistent action, your trains will reach their destination. It’s as simple and certain as that.

Key Takeaway

Move your most important initiatives farther down the track every day. Small, consistent actions start the wheels turning. Then come bigger actions with bigger results. Which ultimately help you build momentum. A train with momentum is very hard to stop. A person with momentum is nearly impossible to stop. Make yourself that person.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Never be afraid to ask for what you want.

Last summer my family traveled to the Pacific Northwest for our summer vacation. There was so much we wanted to see that mapping out our route and scheduling our stops over 9 days was a major challenge. Especially because we wanted to visit British Columbia. Which I would have named Canadian Columbia, but what do I know?

Train Spotting

The thing my son Johann wanted to see most on the trip was the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum in Portland. However, the museum’s schedule was a problem. It was only open Thursday through Sunday. And when the logistics were set, we would be in Portland on a Tuesday. #bummer

However, the museum was across the street from another site we planned to hit: the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. So my wife, Dawn, told Johann that we would drive by the train museum and see whatever we could see from the outside.

On The Outside Looking In

As we approached the train museum we indeed saw a few trains and train cars outside. Which was nice. But the reason Johann was so interested in this museum is that it held one of his all-time favorite trains. The magnificent Daylight 4449. The only remaining train of its type. The Daylight was inside the museum, and could not be seen from the outside. #Boo

Come on Clark, It Will Be Fun.

Dawn suggested that we park the car at the closed museum parking lot anyway, and take a look at the closed facility. So we did. In the process we encountered several signs reminding us that the museum was closed that day. I felt a little silly getting out of the car there. Like Clark Griswold parking at an obviously-closed Wally World.

A Sign Of Life

We got out of the car and walked to the fence surrounding the museum grounds. Then Dawn spotted two people exiting the closed building. They clearly looked like they worked at the Museum. Dawn walked briskly along the fence to the gate they were headed for. I knew she was in Deion Sanders-mode, and was trying to intercept them.

I cringed at the idea of what Dawn was going to say to these people. She’s aggressive. A trait that seems more in sync with her years living in New York City and Chicago than her childhood years in Wausau, Wisconsin.

The Talk

I kept my distance as I watched Dawn intercept the man and woman at the gate. I could hear her sweetly explain that we had come all the way from Wisconsin, and that our son Johann would really, really love to see the Daylight 4449. I braced for the employees to remind her that the museum was closed. And that the sign out front should have told her that.

Instead, the man and woman both smiled at her story. Then, suddenly, the man unlocked the gate, and invited us in. Moments later we were standing inside the large museum staring at the grand prize. The Daylight 4449.

IMG_6684
Johann finally got to lay his eyes on the prize, thanks to his Mama.

However, since the museum was closed, we didn’t get the normal view of the train. Instead, the wonderful people of the museum gave us an all-access pass to every part of the train, with the engineer as our personal tour guide. Our entire family got to climb up in the cab, past the Please Keep Off signs, which was my favorite part.

IMG_6705
Breaking the law, breaking the law…

Johann got stories and insights that most people would have never heard. We felt like distinguished guests and VIPs at the train museum. It was a very special experience. And all for one simple reason: Dawn asked if we could come inside.

IMG_6699
Albrecht aboard!

The Lesson

That experience provided our family with an important life lesson. It taught us all that if you want something you have to put yourself in a position to get it. You have to be willing to ask for what you want, and not be afraid to get a ‘No‘. It taught us that a closed door will sometimes open for you if you ask. And it taught us that some of the best experiences are on the other side of a locked door.

IMG_6701
The Crew.

Key Takeaway

Often times a closed door will open when you show just how much you want to come inside. It pays to be earnest and honest about how much it means to you. Remember, someone holds the keys to unlock every locked door. Find that person, and ask to come in. The worst thing that can happen is you are told no. In which case you are no worse off than you were before. But if they say yes, it could open the doors to incredible new experiences and possibilities.

Today, there are many people facing real health and financial challenges. If you need help, or access, don’t be afraid to ask. It’s the quickest and most effective way to get what you want.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

IMG_6691
Look at that happy kid…

IMG_6680
Thanks to everyone at the Oregon Rail Heritage Museum for such an incredible experience.