Last week I shared with you a blog post on why creation rather than consumption can lead you to a happier existence.
When starting your business, one of the key factors determining your success is the level at which you take action. Simply put, you need to stop stalling and start creating as soon as you possibly can.
Often times this is extremely difficult, so in a follow up to last week’s article, I wanted to explore the idea of taking action a little bit more in hopes of discovering what it is exactly causes us to delay getting started. Becoming knowledgeable about what it is that is keeping you from moving forward is the first step in actually moving forward.
If you are like most people reading this blog, and I was once in this scenario as well, you have a day job (among other obligations) that takes up about 80% of your waking time. This seems as if it we aren’t left with a lot of time to actually create, but it is in reality enough time to do some serious damage.
Unfortunately, we often times will find excuses for not starting or continuing to work on our projects. I truly feel there is one key factor in this equation and that if we can find a way past it and train ourselves to continually do so, we will get to where we want to be (I assume this involves not having to do the first part of your day where you go to work for someone else each morning)
The Main Culprit of Delayed Action? Being Too DAMN Tired.
Exhaustion, be it of the physical or mental kind, almost always gets the better of us… especially after a long, stress-filled day at the workplace.
Often, exhaustion drives us to consume passively- it will easily strip you of your motivation and creativity. Whether it’s watching television, playing video games or reading the latest New York Times bestseller, we tend to overindulge in acts of passive consumption when we are in a state of physical or mental fatigue.
When we hit the proverbial “wall” due to exhaustion, we unwillingly descend into a trajectory toward extended periods of inactivity mainly because of the widely held notion that, in this state, making headway in any undertaking is impossible. (Note: you can get past this)
As a result, we drift further away from our goals and aspirations, and inch closer to a state of discontent, self-loathing, and resentment.
Because our bodies are hard-wired to reject any task that seems difficult, uncomfortable or unnatural, we must, of course, have the determination and the desire to resist the urge to procrastinate.
Here are some tips that will help you “break through the wall” and increase your productivity:
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize.
Without a doubt, downtime is absolutely essential to the creative process as it gives us a chance to rest and declutter our minds.
Moreover, during our idle moments, our sensory perceptions are heightened, and we gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our goals for the future. This is precisely why mediation is touted so highly, and why I feel a quiet walk in the woods is the most important thing I do.
While some downtime is perfectly fine, extended periods of inactivity can seriously deter us from accomplishing the tasks we set out to do.
To stay motivated, we need to be constantly reminded of what we are aiming for and how we are to accomplish it. One motivational tool that I find very effective is the “dream board”. Simply tack images of the things you would like to have or accomplish on a cork board and place it where you usually spend your time idly.
The constant reminder will most certainly motivate you to resume being productive as soon as you are fully rested.
Find Alternatives to Things You Hate Doing.
We all know that the road to success is never an easy one, and most often, we abandon our undertakings when the means to our desired end is not to our liking. There are, however, several ways to skin a cat as the old adage goes, and finding alternative ways to accomplish your goals is infinitely better than giving up.
For instance, if you want to lose weight but hate going to the gym after work, you can take brisk walks or do some stationary jogging at home instead of vegging out in front of the television.
If you hate the idea of working at night after a full day at the office, or can’t because of the distractions, go to a coffee shop… or a bar. I’m not telling you to go get hammered, but I often times get great work done in the back corner of a brewery over a delicious microbrew.
Don’t Take the Path of Least Resistance.
When we are tired or stressed out, we tend to gravitate toward things and activities that provide instant gratification. What most fail to realize is that the “easiest” choice during these times almost always goes against our long term goals.
For example, reading more “how to” eBooks in bed about creating your dream online business might be really easy to consume, but there is far more value in lying in bed and writing your own eBook.
Another example to put this into perspective might be someone wishing to lead a healthier lifestyle opt to do take-away from a fast food restaurant rather than prepare a nutritious meal at home because they are feeling tired and lazy after work. While the first choice is more appealing due to its convenience, clearly, the second option in this situation is much better in the long run.
Resisting the allure of instant gratification can help sustain the momentum you have built up during the day and keep you productive after a long “regular” work hours.
Take the Initiative.
Simply put, procrastination is the end result of our failure to take initiative. Often, our best ideas are left unrealized due to our reluctance or flat-out refusal to take the first step.
The key here is often times to just get started. Countless time I have been agitated and unwilling to begin, but once I write the first word down, or create the first step in a project, I wind up hours later deeply satisfied with a finished product.
We usually don’t take the initiative when we are overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task at hand. For instance, sometimes we will circumvent the more difficult tasks and attempt to justify it by focusing our energy on trivial matters that don’t really build up to anything.
To prevent this from happening, we need to have a flexible, workable plan based on a clear understanding of what exactly we want to achieve. We can then break down the plan into more manageable parts that we can readily accomplish on a day-to-day basis.
Having a well-organized plan significantly reduces the difficulty of taking the first step, and will help bring us closer to realizing our long-term goals.
The longest term factor in this method is to know your vision, then write down your goals you will need to accomplish in order to realize your vision. From here, task out the daily steps to get to each one of these goals. Then start.
Cultivate Powerful, New Habits One Day at a Time.
Being creatures of habit, we often find it difficult to make major changes in our lives. Most people who are set in their ways dislike the idea of disrupting their daily routines. It takes them out of their comfort zone.
The key to managing change effectively is cultivating powerful new habits one day at a time. Most people fail in making changes that will bring them closer to their goals, mainly because they try to do too much all at once.
As a result, they lose the will and the patience to see things through, leaving them disheartened, frustrated, and unchanged.
On the other hand, small changes made on a daily basis develop into powerful habits. These powerful habit ultimately end up defining our success. Making small, gradual changes minimizes risk, and gives us better control over our actions.
For example, gradually reducing the amount of time we spend watching television by just five minutes per day will increase the number of hours we create by as much as two hours in one week! Two extra hours a week will change your life in more ways than one.
In making these small changes, we come to see the formation of new habits in a more positive light.
Monitor Your Progress.
Keeping tabs on our progress can help us determine the effectiveness of our actions in bringing about our desired results. Moreover, just like a “dream board”, a log of accomplishments can be a great motivator when we are tired as it reminds us of how far we’ve progressed from our starting point.
Using a technique I learned in the book “The Slight Edge” by Jeff Olson, each night before you go to bed, write down your “Small Wins”. Watch less TV today? Start your blog post? Contact an industry peer for advice?
Simply keep a journal of your daily accomplishments and note how these “small” victories make you feel. Review your journal entries whenever you are tempted to have some unscheduled downtime to re-motivate you and “keep your eyes on the prize”.
Finding an Account-abili-buddy, as I call them, really works wonders as well. Buddying up with like-minded individuals who have similar goals increases our accountability for our actions and can help motivate us whenever we are feeling lethargic. When I watch my fellow entrepreneur friends work hard and crush a day of creating, it pushes me to get off my ass and do something productive as well.
Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy.
Brainstorming and consuming and complaining about not having enough time is easy. Action is hard. And scary. But action is the ONLY thing that will cure that fear. Creating is the only thing that will get you to where you want to be.
Sitting down on a Saturday afternoon to build and create while everyone else is drinking beer and watching football is tough. So is staying in on a Friday night. So is working all day, coming home to take care of the kids, and then resisting watching Netflix so you can push your business to where it needs to be.
Having the willpower, drive, and continual desire is very hard to maintain, but for those who follow the steps above and really want it, there is a life filled with dreams on the other side of doing whatever it takes.
Have you ever hit the “wall”? How did you overcome it?
Do you have any personal strategies that work for you and would like to share with the Adventurepreneur community?
Share your thoughts by dropping a comment. I would really love to hear your thoughts on this!
My eBook “Top 7 Mistakes Newbies Make When Trying to Quit Their Job and Build a Business” is available for download for free. It’s the first of many guides I am sharing to help you make your own e-business so you can enjoy the freedom doing what you want, when you want.