Everyone gets bogged down periodically. I too have been mired in indecision and lack of enthusiasm from time to time. And it sucks when it’s happening.
If I am brutally honest with myself, I recognize that the biggest causes of my “stuckness” have stemmed from:
- Fear of failure
- Lack of assurance of the outcome
- Uncertainty as to what to do next
And what I have usually landed up doing has been any of the following:
- Focusing on “feel good” activities –- answering emails (the ones with the easy replies), making the non-challenging phone calls, checking stuff out on the web, reading yet another “how-to” book, spending money on help from one more authority who will tell me what to do, making to-do lists
- Avoiding the examination of what is really going on
- Struggling all alone, without reaching out to known sources of truth-telling, inspiration and reality-checking
- Feeling like nothing useful is getting accomplished!
I will say that I have learned a lot about myself working through all of this, and I’ve picked up and used the tips that I’m ready to share with you here.
Most people never take the time to identify the root causes of their procrastination or inability to take action. As a result, they end up frustrated, overwhelmed, confused and unhappy.
To avoid this sad outcome and to get going, there are some provocative questions that first need thoughtful answers:
1. What one single change implemented in your business or your life (wherever you are stuck) would cause an immediate positive result?
2. Do you know exactly what that is?
3. If so, how much of your daily effort is directed at making that change?
4. If you were to change that one thing, how likely is it you will get different results?
The answers to these questions should provide useful self-awareness. And in case this is sounding obscure, let me give you an example:
Imagine that you are convinced that the one thing stopping you from making change or getting ahead is not enough time. Or not enough money.
But when pushed to answer #4, you realize that you do actually have the time (at least to get something going) and you can find enough money (you don’t really need the extra $100k you fantasize is necessary to free you up). So lack of time and money are just your excuses. In fact, as you dig deeper, you uncover the truth: you are unable to make a move because you feel stupid and inhibited about your lack of knowledge of where and how to get started on your task or goal.
That insight changes the focus of your efforts, doesn’t it? Instead of bemoaning your lack of money and time, you might now put your attention to acquiring the know-how, as well as any new skills you might need. You’d seek a mentor or a colleague who’s “been there-done that”. You’d network differently. You’d be very specific about what you are looking for in books or on the web.
When I am stuck or overwhelmed, I’ve found it very helpful to keep my focus by choosing to work on stuff that:
- Produces a positive cash flow in the next 90 days
- Contributes intentionally and thoughtfully to the growth of my business
- Implements my business model (you have to have that figured out first!)
- Makes me more efficient in the processes that are necessary to grow my business (the effective processes, not the busy-work ones – again this demands some careful analysis and thought).
And I now know how to distance myself from the distractions that are really procrastination and avoidance in disguise. Even those that may make me a little money but that are not central to the business I am trying to grow!
Let me wrap this up by prompting you, when you feel stuck, to ask yourself:
- What is my ULTIMATE goal? (or Where do I want to be headed?)
- Where do I currently stand in relation to that goal?
- Can I identify the magnitude and direction of change that is needed to move me from my status quo to where I REALLY want to be?
- Am I willing to make that change?
- And if not, perhaps I should quit whining and just settle for my life as it is.
Getting results requires that you change how you do things when what you’re doing isn’t producing the goodies.
And change requires your willingness AND your work, particularly when you encounter obstacles –- nothing less will do!
Good luck with your efforts to make sustained and sustainable strides as 2009 arrives.
Next month I will share some insights and practical pointers I’ve gotten from the “Theory of Constraints”. Doesn’t that sound enthralling?!