Want to get started on something you’ve been putting off?
After 3 ½ hours of jumping, thumping, and pumping at a Bruce Springsteen concert last week, lyrics to his song “Wrecking Ball” kept looping in my head:
“If you think it’s your time,
then step to the line,
C’mon take your best shot…
let me see what you’ve got!
Bring on your wrecking ball.”
(The song is actually about the destruction of the former Giants Stadium in favor of the current MetLife one, but stay with me here, the words apply never-the-less!)
What is a project you want to do, but you haven’t stepped to the line? A bolder direction in your business or starting a business on the side? Putting yourself up for a new position or taking more of a leadership role on your team? Starting to do public speaking, taking on an assistant, reinventing yourself?
For me it was writing the (first) book.
Here are examples of the ‘self talk’ that had blocked me:
- “I’m too busy, I don’t have the time”
- “What if it’s not a bestseller, what if it doesn’t work?”
- “I don’t know enough/I don’t know what to write about.”
What is the self-talk in your head?
Well, I received the galleys for my book in the mail this week, it will be sent to the printer after I approve it, and then we’ll be reading it together come December. And now I’m in the planning phases for the 2nd one.
When you have a doubt about your abilities, or when you are under stress, you see things through your own filters, not factually. You want to learn to become objective when evaluating your opportunities.
Here’s 3 strategies to get started on an important initiative you’ve been putting off:
- Shift “I’m too busy” to “I’ll make the time if it’s important”
Sort out: is it not the right time because you are intentionally devoting time to the limited number of projects that are in a straight line towards your professional and personal goals OR simply that “too busy” is a convenient way of indicating you don’t believe in yourself. How would you know the difference?First, imagine what it would look like when you’re past the inertia, and things are working well. What’s the feeling in your gut? It might feel awkward or new (“me, an author?”) but are you truly thrilled about it? If so, it’s a sign that the time issue might be a red herring. If you are not thrilled, it may be a ‘should’ based on what other people are doing, in which case drop the idea.
Second, take a step back and look at this possibility through the lens of your big picture. List the activities/projects that keep you ‘busy’ now, and compare each one with the possibility of this longer term asset. Will the new project accomplish or accelerate your goals or bring you even more reward/satisfaction? The answer would need to be “yes”. It was for me – a lot of people need the skills I teach in the book so it’s a vehicle to help more people learn the skills, and it instantly established my credibility for corporate trainings and conference speeches. So I reviewed with fresh eyes, where am I spending time that is not giving me a return on my investment? I cut out those activities.
Third, Ask yourself what will happen if you don’t do it? I knew I would have regrets and feel too strongly that I had missed my opportunity. So I imposed an external deadline (the book proposal). Then I became so “into” the project that finding time for it became much easier.
- Shift “What if it doesn’t work?” to “What’s the process to vet the idea?”
It can be scary if other people know you have a goal. You know they will be watching you. You create “what if” scenarios then talk yourself out of it.For myself, I had wanted to write the book for a while, but I thought “why bother” unless I can make it a bestseller. We do this to ourselves. We pressure ourselves to need to control the outcome. We have to know it will work or else we don’t want to try. We get impatient for a winning result. All of these are confidence related issues. You think that you have to prove yourself and have a big win to make up for ways you think you have underachieved in the past.
Instead, do your best due diligence up front to consider objectively whether the idea is viable, and what you can do to improve the chances of success. Use your best decision making and planning skills to vet the idea, and if it’s a good one then go for it. Put a plan into place to monitor early results and learn to course correct as needed. I was able to get started when I stopped worrying about outcomes I couldn’t control and I started getting so excited that I could teach a lot of people needed skills. And since then I’ve invested a lot in learning how to become a best selling author (and hopefully you’ll help me too!)
- Shift “I don’t know enough yet” to “Doing the research is the funnest part”
Start with writing down what and who you DO know (it’s more than you think). Identify the gaps to get the project rolling. Identify who has the needed information or contacts. Then comes the fun part – when you stop worrying that people are going to judge you for your deficits, and start a project that will gain momentum over time to help people.For me, I knew information for 7 out of the 9 chapters off the top of my head but there were 2 central chapters I didn’t know enough about to give the reader what I think is the full Success under Stress skillset. I stopped telling myself I didn’t know enough and I started researching! One of the most enjoyable parts of the writing process was talking to world class researchers and synthesizing the insights into that chapter – it ended up being my favorite one (though as any “mother”, I love them all equally!)
What is a project that you’ve been putting off and what would help you to get started?