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Here’s the Secret to Getting Things Done

It’s a well-known practice in the sports industry.

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BY Christie Mims - 13 Sep 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to accomplish their goals effortlessly?

Or, how some people seem to get promoted or recognized while you work nights and weekends without recognition?

Or even how some people make work look easy, while you feel like you can't get on top of your email?

How do these magical people do it?

How do they seem to reach big goals while you stay stuck?

If you've struggled with these questions, you aren't alone!

But fortunately, I have some good news: The solution to making your goals come true starts with athletes. No really--stick with me (even if you hate sports).

I found myself in an internet hole recently and came across quite a few articles on how athletes prepare for big events (here's one if you're curious, and here's another.

Short of all of the lucky socks, stretching, moments of silence, it all boils down into one word: routine.

They all have a specific routine that gets them in the right physical, mental, emotional frames of mind to compete and keep moving forward. These people don't have to worry about how to succeed, they just have to trust the routine and execute.

Why is that?

It's hard to both plan to do something, and then actually do it. The simple act of planning takes brain power and discipline, which means you have less of both when it comes time to follow-through--making following through much harder.

If you take the planning out of the equation, all you have to do is rely on your routine to push you forward.

So, here's a question for you: How is your own routine helping you move forward in your career?

Or maybe my question should be this: Is your routine helping you plan and achieve your career goals?

If your answer's "Yes!", well then you skip Go and collect $200. But if it's more along the lines of, "Hm, my routine isn't really helping me" then keep reading!

When I was a full-time consultant, I was miserable and ready to quit and do something--anything--else. I had a bunch of ideas and plans, but no real momentum, and I kept putting off things that I knew were important instead of buckling down. I wasn't making the kind of progress that I wanted.

And then I changed my routine. The first thing I did was look at my goal: Launch my own business. The second thing I did was examine what kind of habits I'd need to build into my schedule to do that.

For example, I dedicated one night a week to writing all of my blogs and one night a week to networking for the blog. I didn't worry about doing anything but what I had planned for those two nights--writing and networking. Done and done.

Having a plan and routine that I was following had the beneficial effect of also making me less afraid of the future.

I was taking action and that took away a lot of my fear.

With more confidence (and less fear) I expanded my routine even further.

Was it hard? Of course! It definitely took some effort on my mind.

But the effort was worth it, because my routine also made me less worried about reaching my big goals. Instead, all I had to do was follow it to make progress.

And all of that progress led me to quitting a job and starting a full-time business helping people with their careers (one that is not only fun, but even more lucrative than my fancy-pants consulting job).

So now, imagine where a new routine could lead you!

To begin, write down your goal. Anywhere you can see it and in any form. Then, write down the steps you'd have to take to make it happen. Finally, take a look at your calendar and ask yourself: What can you add, subtract, or change to start working through step one.

Maybe it's adding a certain block of networking time each week. Maybe it's setting aside one or two nights to work on your career learning and invest in your education. Maybe it's attending one conference or outside meeting every other month. Maybe it's getting more sleep, not checking your email first thing in the morning, or eating better so that you have more energy to devote to your career.

Maybe--and this was a lifesaver for me--it's investing in dry shampoo to save time in the morning.

Once you make completing step one a part of your routine, it'll be so much easier to check it off the list. And once that's done, you can use that same allotted time to tackle step two, then three, and so on.

--This post originally appeared on the The Muse.