Making Things Happen is a Skill


Image credit: Sarah H. Dee (flickr: 31floors)

In the two years that I’ve been running The Finishing School and preaching the gospel of Getting Out There and Doing Stuff, I’ve talked to a lot of people who don’t understand why they should have life goals.

Why go out of your way to list these arbitrary and random things?  Why bother trying to achieve something that doesn’t directly benefit you?


Isn’t that a first-world luxury?  Something you can only think about because you’re satiated to boredom?  Some people are starving, and you’re checking off continents and crap just because you can?

Having a list of life goals is not about arbitrary timesinks.  Nor is it about boredom and privilege.

Having a list of life goals– and, more importantly, doing them– is about something totally different.  It’s about consciously choosing what you want to do with your short, short time on Earth and then seeing it through to actuality.  All of the reasons I keep a list of life goals are centered around that one reason.  Making Things Happen is something that only humans can do, and it’s a part of what makes us who we are.  I think it’s a glorious endeavor, and I want to touch on one aspect of it here:

Making Things Happen is a skill.

Making up your mind to do something and then doing it is a skill, just like playing the piano is a skill and driving stick is a skill.  We don’t usually think of it this way– usually, it’s only the object of the goal that we could consider as such.  “Oh, he wanted to learn French, so he practiced a whole bunch and now he knows it”.  The key skill there is not French, it’s learning/practicing– i.e. making the dream a reality.

Making Things Happen is a skill, and it’s comprised of all sorts of techniques you need to master– just like any other skill.  Playing piano requires learning scales and finger patterns and reading music.  Making Things Happen, on the other hand, requires broad skills like self-discipline, organization, leadership, etc.  You need to understand how your brain works– how you work– and act accordingly.  What motivates you?  What distracts you?  How do you get over hurdles?  How do you keep going when the muse is gone?  The answers to those questions are the bullets in the war to master Making Things Happen.

Making Things Happen is a skill, and you can master it just like any other.  Through practice, you can become really good at doing what you say you’re going to do.  You can become someone who is known for turning ideas into reality with surprising efficacy.  Life materializes around you.  There is creation, building up, doing, and happening.

Making Things Happen is a skill, and you can suck at it.  I really dislike seeing people who are bad at MTH.  In fact, I have a visceral disdain for it.  But so many people are.  How do you know if you’re one?  If you feel like you don’t actually do anything you want, that’s a pretty good sign.  You blame others for your ideas not happening.  But it could be even worse– you could be content to sit around unchallenged and watch TV all day.  You don’t even have ideas of what to do.  I don’t know where to start if that’s the case, but I’m glad you’re reading this.

Making Things Happen is a skill, and your life list is a series of exercises to apply it to.  Not because MTH is a useless skill and we need to come up with something to aim it at, but because you’ve chosen things that are worthwhile for you to do with your time, and that is the stone on which you can grind the axe.  The axe will be sharpened, and you will be, as T.E. Lawrence said, a dangerous man– a dreamer of the day, with the power to make your dreams a reality.

That’s what this blog is about, and that’s what making the list is about.  Does that clear it up?

Take the hill.


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