Andrew Barber-Starkey from Pro Coach International Inc. says, “What’s the only thing that gets smaller as you get closer to it? Your fears.” Often fears are precipitated by spending too much time thinking about them and not enough time dealing with them.
Setting up a business means facing the unknown every day. Your skills and talents will determine the type of tasks on which you prefer to spend your time. The problem is that there are so many other responsibilities waiting to be dealt with.
Susan, a woman who owns a company that makes websites and does online marketing for small businesses, was struggling with her fears. She particularly feared writing content for her clients’ websites. Although she recognized her personal obstacle, she still had difficulty getting past it. Each week Susan would set goals for completing a certain amount of writing, and every week she would fall short of her objective. Susan’s biggest fear was that the client wouldn’t be happy with what she wrote. Ironically, the content most of her clients wrote was not very good.
As deadlines loomed, she realized that getting beyond her fear was the only way to handle the situation. When she presented clients with copy, the feedback came back positive every time. That improved Susan’s level of confidence, but didn’t solve her procrastination problem. She continued to complete other tasks first, even though it meant working long hours and late nights to get the content written. Finally, the backlog got to the point where things had to change. Susan came up with two strategies. One was to make a priority list for the day and commit to writing content before moving on to other tasks. The other was to schedule specific times to complete the writing. By using both these methods to do what was difficult for her, she was able to achieve her copywriting goals more often.
Ray Hill, a professional speaker who specializes in energy management, talks about how we all have peak energy times during the day. That’s the best time to do our most challenging tasks, the ones we put off until the last minute. I have found this strategy to work well for me. Since my peak time of the day is first thing in the morning, I use these early hours to focus on tasks that require more brain power. For me, that includes writing reports, reading, and writing copy or marketing plans.
Another strategy both Susan and I use is setting deadlines. A marketing plan can take me up to forty hours to research and write. By setting a deadline for myself, then telling the client, I am able to establish a target and deliver on time. When deadlines are not required, it is easy to put off difficult things. Even setting self-imposed deadlines is better than operating with no deadline at all. When you tell someone your projected completion date, you are more likely to finish it on time.
Doing what’s hard is not about doing what is completely out of your realm of abilities. Subcontract the latter to more qualified individuals. Doing what’s hard is more about tackling what you are avoiding due to fear. It’s too easy to apply your attention to tasks you enjoy, or that come easily to you.
As Andrew Barber-Starkey would say, “When you do what’s hard, you will discover that everything starts to get easier.”