It was just a coffee table. A resting place for coffee cups and gatherer of used magazines. Normally, it would have no meaning for me. But because I invented this table and scraped my knuckles raw for it…I was a proud papa.
This Christmas gift to my wife was more than a hobbyist’s diversion. It taught me how to succeed at anything in life. I’m now confident that I can achieve any goal I set my mind to.
Why did it have this effect? Because in the process of making this end table, I underwent a textbook case of how goal achievement is supposed to work. The whole project was full of lessons that can be applied to any goal:
In my mind, I knew what it should look like. I got it down on paper right away. As I measured and cut, I continually checked my product against this vision.
Before I did anything, I drew up a detailed blueprint on several sheets of graph paper.
A Timeline (and a Deadline)
Each workday was planned, including the steps I would achieve each day. Christmas Eve was the built-in deadline.
Each day I focused on only a few steps at a time—without worrying about the others. I trusted that if I created the legs first, then the sides, followed by the top, it would all come together according to my plan.
It was for my wife. That (along with an immoveable deadline) kept me in the workshop at every possible moment. I didn’t procrastinate and didn’t need to be reminded.
Lots of Help
My dad helped me devise the plan. When I got stuck, my friend Chris gave me ideas, suggesting the perfect tools at the perfect times. In the end, it wouldn’t have been half as good without their help.
Woodworking depends a lot on time, patience, and having the right tools (emphasis on the right tools). Because I had all of these, my table making was less of a frustration, and more of a piece of cake.
If something didn’t turn out just right, I moved around it and adapted. I didn’t let one step back stop me from moving forward.
In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing! I had never even used half of the tools (and I certainly didn’t know what a bevel was). But, by taking things one step at a time, I learned what I needed and grew more confident.
All of these strategies combined gave me a sense of invincibility. I became convinced that as long as I took my time, followed my plan, and used the right tools, there was no way I could fail. Now I’m also convinced that I can follow the same strategy with other goals in the future.
And I thought I was just making a coffee table!
Article created on: 3/30/2005