Is your train stuck in the station?
While travel by rail is not as popular as it used to be (like it was before, say, airplanes even existed), you can probably still imagine the thrill of being prepared to go on a fabulous train trip. Bags are packed, tickets are purchased, you’ve found your seat and stowed your luggage, and you’re excitedly waiting for the train to leave the station.
All the preparation in the world obviously does no good if the damn train doesn’t move out of the station. If you’re not a train conductor, you can’t do anything about AmTrak’s performance. But if you’re an entrepreneur, you are totally the conductor of your business train, and you’re the one who determines what kind of business results you get. And that leads to the big question:
Are you barreling down the tracks to future success, or are you stuck in the station?
Procrastination and fear are success killers.
There are a lot of reasons you may be stuck:
- you simply don’t yet have the resources you need to move ahead
- you don’t know how to get started
- you’re overwhelmed by everything that needs doing
- you’ve gotten physically or emotionally exhausted and are running on empty
- you know deep in your heart that if you don’t try you can’t fail (I know from painful, personal, past experience that this reason is especially subtle and stinky.)
The obvious bad news is that these issues are highly effective at keeping you stuck in the station. The good news is that every single one of them can be dealt with, starting right now—IF you make a powerful choice and commit to changing your thinking and your behavior. Here are steps you can take immediately.
Hack your way out of overwhelm by doing a brain dump.
This is truly one of the fastest, easiest, and most compassionate steps you can take to get unstuck. Simply take a blank piece of paper or sit at a blank screen in your word-processing program, then start spewing: List every single thing you can think of that’s flitted in and out of your brain and added to the sense of being helplessly weighed down. During this step, don’t evaluate, don’t problem solve, don’t judge—simply list those nattering tasks that are overwhelming you.
The simple act of listing them will make you feel more in control; enable you to see that some activities are simply time wasters, undeserving of your time and attention; and identify the activities that truly need doing if you’re going to get in purposeful motion toward your exciting goals.
One of my clients started out as the poster child for overwhelm. What Laurel discovered by doing her brain dump that some of the activities that had been sucking her energy and focus were completely trivial and unhelpful; she was able to banish them from her thoughts. Those she identified as truly important became far more manageable simply for being written down.
Figure out what your business needs most right now.
If I had to take a wild guess, I would guess you’re probably interested in making more money. If that is indeed the case, what are the areas that will bring in the money most quickly and easily? Those are the areas where you want to be focusing your time and effort.
Is it working one-on-one with clients? Being paid to speak? Offering workshops? Selling products? What’s the most profitable use of your time?
NOW assess what will get your wheels moving in the direction of those important goals.
For this step, many people—even those of us highly linear types—find it easiest to work with a mind map rather than an outlined list. This visual approach to organizing your thoughts offers a huge advantage over lists: It prevents the slow-down that’s likely to happen if you get hung up on trying to create a working To Do list with all the baby steps in correct chronological order.
Ditch the Superman cape and get help.
Am I saying max out your credit cards by hiring service providers to do everything for you? Absolutely not. Am I saying find a way to pay an expert for those activities that you’re lousy at, that slow you down and create bottlenecks to your success? Absolutely yes.
Remember the client I mentioned earlier? Laurel was aggravated with herself because she was having difficulty marketing herself despite the fact that she’d been the marketing director for her former employer. Once she realized she was only impeding her own success by trying to “make” things work on her own, she did the smart thing and hired an objective observer (that would be me) who showed her how to leave her paralysis behind.
Combining our skills was the boost Laurel needed. In fact, I just got an email from her detailing her super-productive week and ending with this note of celebration: “YES!!!!!!! Doing a victory dance at my desk!!!!!!! You should be celebrating with me! This is OUR victory!” (She was feeling pretty good about her results.)
Accept the fact that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity.
Funny how this tactic plays right into the preceding one…
As long as you’re the engine propelling your business to success, you simply can’t afford to work yourself into the ground. (Besides, where’s the fun in that?) Hydration, restful sleep, stretching, regular massages, decent food…all are business-building tools. Take advantage of them to keep your body and mind fully functional.
Find an accountability partner who will lovingly kick your butt when you’re tempted to fall into “if I don’t try I can’t fail” mode.
This is simultaneously one of my most favorite and least favorite tactics. It’s my most favorite because, while it’s not foolproof, it’s pretty damn powerful. It’s my least favorite because, on those rare occasions when it doesn’t ensure you get the work done, it guarantees you’ll embarrass yourself when you have to admit you chickened out of what you KNOW was important to do. Your accountability partner will also remind you: If you don’t at least try, there’s NO chance you’ll succeed.
Such a partner is both invaluable and versatile: She’ll help you with challenging situations in the personal arena as well as the professional one. In fact, I just tapped my oldest sister last week in this regard. I’d been putting off an IMD (interesting marital discussion) with my husband, and I finally decided I’d had enough of feeling like a hypocrite by not taking action as I encourage and nudge all my clients to do. So I asked Pat to hold me accountable for having the IMD within 48 hours. She did, I did, and now hubby and I are moving smoothly forward.
What are some of your favorite ways for not getting stuck in the station? Let us know!
Or does it feel like you’ve taken up permanent residence in said station? If that’s the case and it’s time for a goose in the caboose, take advantage of my Take Action Now System™. You can download this PDF at no charge simply by telling me where to send it (see the box in the upper right-hand corner of this page).
And if you start to work through that and find that it’s still taking longer than you want to develop that irresistible head of steam, then maybe it’s worth spending 30 or 40 minutes on the phone, discussing whether working one-on-one with each other can provide the propulsion you need. Just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “I’m stuck!” in the subject line; we’ll set up a call where we can get acquainted and decide whether working together makes sense or not.
(By the way, thanks to shankar s. for posting his train-in-the-station image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)This entry was posted in action plan, effectiveness and tagged business development, goals. Bookmark the permalink.