Text on picture of woman working at desk: 6 tips to complete the goal pushes against your comfort zone

6 tips to complete the project or goal that feels uncomfortable and pushes against your comfort zone

Last week I shared that I broke my habit of running around trying new projects and things that didn’t work by focusing on a project that forced me to learn and exercise a critical business skill that I lacked.

Working on that project was uncomfortable, pushed against my comfort zone hard, didn’t come naturally to me, and I wasn’t always motivated to keep going.

And yet I did, and the project was a success in the areas I needed it to be.

So, how did I do it?

The truth is there wasn’t just one thing that allowed me to complete this project. It was a combination of things.

Below I’ll share what I believe were the most significant contributors to completing the project.

My future success depended on me learning this skill.

While I wasn’t motivated to do this project specifically, I knew that not doing the project would mean I’d continue to have crappy results in my business. Basically, this skill was so important I knew that all my future success would be built on what I learned through this project. Not doing this project would mean my business would not move forward.

I was clear about my deadlines.

Because the project was uncomfortable and pushed against my comfort zone, it was super important to be very clear about what needed to be done and when. This allowed me to put on blinders to the larger project and only focus on the specific task in front of me.

Knowing that I wanted to start sending invites x days before the project began meant those deadlines weren’t moveable. Once I sent the first invites out, I was now committed to the date. It was out there.

I spread the work out over time.

I also made sure that the work was getting done, but was spread out. This allowed me to keep my energy up. I generally have more energy and attention in the morning, so I made sure those uncomfortable tasks came first.

I regularly reviewed my progress.

I gave myself time to review what worked and didn’t and adjust. Because the skill I was learning didn’t come naturally to me, I paid attention when something felt more in line with me (more down my alley, more me) and made a note of it to repeat later.

I had clearly defined tasks.

I was very clear about the tasks that needed to be completed. My task wasn’t to “invite people.” The tasks were to “make a list of at least 25 people that I think will benefit from this” and “personally invite that list of people via a phone call.”

It helped to focus on today’s task (or tasks) for the project. And because I spread the work out, I usually only had one 30-minute to 1-hour block of this to do each day. Once it was done, I could move on to tasks that felt much easier.

The bonus was how great it felt to have the task done and be able to move on.

I remembered my bigger goal when things felt hard (my why).

When things felt difficult, I’d take a deep breath and remember what I saw on the other side of this project. I’d remind myself why it was important to do this.

This sounds a bit like my first reason above, but this one is a bit deeper. The first one, my future successes depended on me learning this skill, is more of a nuts and bolts reason.

This reason is more of a mindset shift. It was about reminding myself that I could do these hard things and why it was important to step into being a person who did this hard thing and what that would do for me.

Again, it wasn’t just one of the above reasons that allowed me to complete the project that, on some levels, I did not want to do. It was the above reasons together that made the difference.

I’ve read multiple places that what makes a goal successful isn’t just about remembering why it’s important to you. It’s about putting the systems in place that support the work of doing hard things—remembering your why is one crucial part of that.

What questions do you have around doing projects in your business that feel uncomfortable or push against your comfort zone? Or share your experiences with this. Let me know in the comments.

Text on picture of quilt: What situations in your business might resemble this pattern

What situations in your business might resemble this pattern?

There’s this pattern I see in myself and some of my clients.

You’ve had an excellent idea for your business, and you want to make it happen quickly.

After all, this is something that will offer lots of value to your people, and it also promises to result in extra income.

You push the other projects and tasks you had planned for aside and start working on this new thing you’re really motivated about.

But it doesn’t take off the way you expected it to. 

You thought it would be a slam dunk! Instead, you have very few people involved and your other goals, projects, and tasks have taken a hit.

Initially, it looked like you were doing something super productive for your business, even if it was a bit of productive procrastination (head over here for the productive/unproductive procrastination definitions).

Upon reflection, it seems it might have been more of an unproductive procrastination situation.

Next week I’ll share how to avoid it. This week, let’s look at what’s really going on.

If you’ve done this, know that you’re in excellent company.

The reasons I’ve fallen into this pattern are many of the same reasons I’ve seen my clients fall into this pattern.

One reason is I need to learn a new skill in my business (or a new level of that skill) and I cannot figure it out on my own. And rather than finding someone to teach it to me, I come up with a brilliant way that I think might circumvent needing to learn this vital business skill, but it doesn’t work. Now I’m more frustrated because I feel like I’ve wasted a month or more of my time, and I still need to learn that skill.

Another reason is if I’m not getting the interest or engagement I want around something I’m doing. So, instead of looking at what I can adjust or add to have the interest or engagement I want, I do something completely new that I think will result in that interest or engagement. What ends up happening is people are confused about what I’m doing, I still have to promote the new thing (and often I’m doing it the same way I was promoting the other thing), and I end up with even less interest or engagement. Then I’m frustrated and annoyed and feel like I’ve taken five steps backward.

There are lots of other ways this can manifest itself.

The basic formula is:

  1. I want to avoid this thing in my business
  2. I create a distraction that feels exciting and promising
  3. It doesn’t go the way I want
  4. I feel frustrated and further behind
  5. I either repeat the formula OR do the thing I’m avoiding

What situations in your business might resemble this pattern?

Next week I’ll share how to recognize this pattern and put a stop to it.

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #120 / How do you prioritize the importance of doing in contrast to strategizing?

How do you prioritize the importance of doing in contrast to strategizing?

Someone recently asked me how I prioritize the importance of doing in contract to strategizing (or planning).

She said that she finds DOING is 10x’s better than having a perfect strategy.

But it can be a whole bunch of work in the wrong direction, which isn’t great either.

So what do you do?

I want to start by saying that there is no perfect strategy.

In our desire to have the impact and results that we want we can get caught up in doing things the “right” way.

And a lot of us can get so caught up in creating and executing that perfect strategy that we keep putting off the thing we’re actually trying to accomplish.

We plan and plan and plan and plan.

When we start the work, we want it to be done so very well, that the end date keeps getting pushed back and we don’t end up with the results or the impact that we wanted.

Basically, you can end up procrastinating something important through a desire to do it perfectly.

You might forget that it’s important to make progress, and not wait for perfection.

It’s a whole lot better to get something out there that’s imperfect, unfinished, or unnamed (as the case may be) than to wait for things to be *just* right or perfect.

And you also need to balance that with planning.

You don’t want the only thing you’re consistent about to be that you’re throwing undercooked spaghetti at the wall and wondering why NOTHING ever sticks.

Meaning, if you do that once, fine. Learn from it and maybe cook the spaghetti a bit more next time.

In other words, do it badly first, then look at what worked and what didn’t.

You have a start.

No one else is going to think you did it badly because they didn’t go into with the HUGE expectations that you did, they’re ONLY seeing what happened.

Let’s take it into more personal terms.

A week from today I’m hosting a 1/2 day workshop.

It’s the first time I’ve hosted a workshop in over 3 years and the content is completely different.

But it is material I’ve taught before, so I don’t have to completely write new content.

When I started planning it I thought I should host it in a hotel, have tables with white table cloths that hit the floor, have a microphone, maybe be recorded, and have the perfect powerpoint presentation (or slide deck).

And I thought that before I started marketing it I should have all the marketing planned out, the fliers created, the social media posts and images created, all emails written, and a list of everyone that I wanted to call and personally invite written.

And that FREAKED me out. Because it meant I needed about 2 1/2 months of lead time and for the timing with some other things I wanted to happen to work I needed the workshop to happen in about 6 weeks.

So, I reset my expectations.

What absolutely needed to be done now so that I could start sharing this workshop 3-4 weeks out from it happening?

What could I work on and figure out during that 3-4 weeks before the event?

And what expectations can I let go of this time around to have more time for some other more important things?

It was more important for me to get it out there for the first time and have some experience with it than to try to get everything perfect the first time.

Sometimes it’s about doing enough planning so you can start moving in the right direction.

Again, it’s about making progress and not waiting for perfection.


PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #120

Productivity for Solopreneurs: Insights to getting things done #113 / Choosing between an impromptu visit and your to-do list

Choosing between an impromptu visit and your to-do list

I was searching through my blog archives last week and came across something I wrote seven years ago that really stuck with me.

It’s about what to do with impromptu visits.

Those “hey, I’m in town today, want to grab some lunch” type of unexpected invitations.

For me, they usually come from family members.

And I’m a planner. I like to have appointments on my schedule at least a week in advance and my tasks for the week outlined before Monday morning.

When I get an impromptu visit or lunch request, it can feel like someone took a large cartoonish wrench and threw it into my well planned and thought out week.

Do I want to spend time with them? YES!

AND I want to get the things I had planned for the week done too.

The problem is if I always say no last-minute requests of my time, I might not have an opportunity to see that person again for a few months.

I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons having my own business was appealing was that I could occasionally enjoy these impromptu visits.

So, if I say no to these visits, am I honoring my schedule and plans or am I being too tied to them?

Here’s what we forget about our to-do lists, schedules, and plans sometimes: they are there to help you and work for you. You do not work for them.

It sounds a little weird to say it like that, but sometimes in our quest to get as much done as we can each day, we forget that there are other things to do.

Life doesn’t always fit in nice little compartments and since you’re reading this, I’m guessing you really don’t want it too. You want a life with flexibility.

This doesn’t mean it’s always easy to put aside my plans for the week and have brunch with family instead. I have things! that must be done! And if I start my day late, those things! Might not get done! (does anyone else’s brain work like this? Or is it just me?)

This is when it’s helpful for me to take a breath and realize that if there are no appointments scheduled, then the things! can be done later.

When I have impromptu visits and my mind is ping-ponging between GO have fun and STAY to complete the things! I ask myself these questions:

  • Are there any appointments or meetings that this will overlap or interfere with?
  • Are there any deadlines approaching that will be negatively impacted?
  • Have I already spent time this week with unplanned visits?
  • How will this impact progress on my goals?

The gist of these questions is: will my business or goals be negatively affected by spending time elsewhere?

If so, is spending this time with this person more important than my business and/or goals?

Notice that I wrote “is spending this time with” and not “is spending time with.” That one little word changes the meaning of the sentence a bit.

Again, your schedule and to-do list are meant to help guide you and make your day flow smoothly.

They are not a ball and chain that keep you tied to your office or computer.

If you’re treating them like that, step back, get curious and ask yourself why.

Leave a comment letting me know when was the last time you said yes to an impromptu visit.

And if your schedule and to-do list feel like a ball and chain or if it feels impossible to say yes to an impromptu visit, then reach out and let’s talk. The easiest way to do that is to leave a comment or fill out the Contact Me form here.

PRODUCTIVITY FOR SOLOPRENEURS: INSIGHTS TO GETTING THINGS DONE #113

My head keeps telling me to do more things

What are your gut feelings about what you should be focusing on or doing this week, month or quarter?

Have you taken any time for yourself (real time for yourself) to notice?

I’ve noticed a desire to slow down right now.

Why?

Saturday was the funeral for my father-in-law and it was a beautiful time of remembrance of his life.

People keep asking how I am and I respond with “good” and “fine”.

I respond this way not because I want them to feel better, but because I really am good and fine.

I’ve noticed part of me thinking that because I am “good” and “fine” I should jump right into “normal” life.

My head keeps telling me to do more things, update my plan for the first quarter with ideas I’ve had in the last 10 days, and put solid dates and plans into the calendar for 2019.

And yet, I’ve felt the desire to slow down.

The desire to slow down comes from a deeper place.

From this deeper place, I’m being asked to put a hold on the PLANS I want to create now because they’ll change in a week or two.

From this deeper place, I’m being asked to recognize that even though I really do feel good and fine, I need some time before I jump back in 100%.

From this deeper place, I trust that taking this time now will serve me better than PUSHING through and DOING-ALL-THE-THINGS.

There won’t be a Wednesday LIVE with Evie this week and it may not return until February.

However, I’ll still be showing up here each week with a note like this one.

And while today’s note isn’t an overt productivity tip, it is a productivity reminder to listen to your intuition and notice what you need.

YOU are the driving force of your business and taking the time to notice and honor what you need is important.

What guidance does your intuition (or gut or whatever your name for it is) have to share with you about the upcoming weeks?

If you would like to share I’d love to see your responses in the comments below!