Okay, it’s time to take a very unscientific poll, one in which I won’t be collecting ballots, nor will I be able to tabulate the results. It’s simply a “self-reflection” survey, where I challenge each reader to ask themselves, “Which of the following do I consider to be my modus operandi when it comes to ‘getting things done’ – am I a thinker, am I talker, or am I doer?” 

Of course each of us is wired differently from the next, and the degree to which we commit ourselves to the completion of a particular goal may be subjective depending upon the situation. By no means, is there any judgment being made here based on the category one falls into (I can’t speak for those husbands, wives, partners, or family members who may say otherwise). 

For consistency purposes, let’s use a scenario that many of us might be presented with from time to time, whereby there is a decent-size project that requires a good chunk of effort on our part, such as reorganizing the garage or converting an existing room in the house into something completely different. 

There are those individuals who are exceptionally good at conceptualizing and mapping out what each of the various steps require, long before they lift a finger to begin working on a project. Depending upon the nature of the task, they might make a list, draw a mock-up or go online to view and print out some examples. 

For some, this may be as far as they get — they become distracted and never move on to the next phase. From what I’ve been able to gather, this can be due to procrastination or perhaps because there isn’t an immediate reward for the effort up to this point.

Then there are others who might typically verbalize to themselves or a family member that they have full intention of completing the job, and even put together a plan to complete it, and yet, they lack any form of measurable follow-through. 

Believe it or not, there’s actually a term for this, “akrasia,” coined way back in the days of Socrates and Aristotle, which basically is the state of acting against one’s better judgment. Author James Clear articulates this behavior incredibly well in his bestselling book, “Atomic Habits.”

Finally, and statistically the smallest percentage of folks, are those who actually fulfill a scalable task from the outset to one of completion. In a subsequent chapter of Clear’s work, he states that this group consists of people who are willing to forgo the need for immediate rewards in order to seek satisfaction in the long-term. 

In stating his case, he uses examples such as weight loss or learning a new language, as he suggests: “When setting a goal, you are actually making plans for your future self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future, and see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits.” 

I have to confess, the impetus for this impromptu poll was a conversation I had with a friend, after she’d read last month’s column, “Making an Impact in Some Other Way.” The primary focus of our discussion centered on the topic of “follow-through,” as we looked back at the path she took in order to convert thoughts and concepts into an actionable, successful outcome.

In this particular case, many of the ideas that she’d been tossing about for some time involved transforming a hobby of hers into a home-based business, serving both individuals looking to purchase customized items and retailers wanting to carry a variety of offerings in various sizes and colors.

As she would acknowledge, rarely did her ideas make it out of the starting gate, let alone all the way to the proverbial finish line. Her comfort zone was solely in designing and producing the items, with little motivation involving anything else.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the field of marketing research (albeit for many Fortune 500 Companies), I suggested that once she laid out a basic business plan, and created a representative selection of product, she then introduce some of her work to the general public, all-the-while seeking valuable feedback.  

My recommendation seemed to be consistent with that of Emily Heaslip, a copyrighter working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose piece, “How to Turn Your Hobby into a Business” proposes to aspiring creators:  “One way to see if there’s a market for your product or service is to test it on smaller groups, such as friends and family. Share your hobby with those close to you to gauge interest. Do some research online, at a farmer’s market, or at a local craft fair to see if others are selling a similar product or service. Then, decide if the level of interest matches your goals. Your hobby doesn’t necessarily need to be your full-time occupation. Many people turn their hobby into a side hustle or part-time job.”

Whether it’s reorganizing the garage, revamping an underutilized space in your home, or taking a leap of faith to convert a hobby into a small business; ultimately, I think it’s important to understand that you’re never alone when it comes to working towards a goal. There is no harm in asking for someone’s assistance in order to achieve it and just may surprise you how many folks would be pleased, if not honored, to lend a hand in some way. 

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Dave Davis
Dave Davis teaches preschool for the Head Start program based at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, NY. He is also a frequent contributor to “Who Smarted?,” a popular educational podcast for elementary school children.

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