Meet Paula. Paula ran a successful events management company until she sold it, and now works as a solo management consultant. She explained that she had had a few tough years with the economy, but was now ready to make some big things happen and increase her earnings. Paula met a coach who said he could help her grow her business. Within a few coaching sessions, Paula had a clear idea of who she needed to reach out to, what she needed to say, and how to track her progress.
After a few weeks, Paula had more leads for project work with good clients than she had in the previous year. Marketing was working and work felt fun again. But there was a small problem: Paula wasn’t getting any new contracts. Instead of following up with a lead, Paula went to a book club meeting one morning, because she was “already committed to going.” Instead of making time for an important conference call, Paula postponed it so she wouldn’t miss her yoga class that she enjoyed so much. Following a client meeting Paula planned to return to her office, write a proposal, and have her coach review it before sending it off to the prospect. Instead, she got a call from a friend who asked her for a ride home from the airport which then expanded into a longer visit. Paula missed her window of opportunity and lost the momentum with several prospects. All of her plans to grow were being undermined by one crucial factor: other things were getting in the way of what Paula knew she needed to do. But it wasn’t really “other things” that were responsible for Paula’s plans running afoul, as you well know. It is all about the choices that Paula made.
Haven’t you ever experienced that? I’ve been there. Maybe it was making a sales call. Maybe it was writing a report or having a difficult conversation with a colleague. We all have our own specific tasks that trigger the “avoidance flurry,” as I like to call it. Avoidance flurries are brought on by a host of different factors that can be minimized over time.
The important thing to recognize here is that each of us, first person singular, is in control of the choices we make, and the choices we make determine the results we produce.
Your Steps to Success
Here’s how to get started with this growth principle.
- Get crystal clear on what your most important priority is for today. Once you know that getting the proposal sent is your number one priority, you can recognize what activities move you toward its completion (having it open on your computer is a good sign) and which take you away (checking Facebook for news falls into this category).
- Allocate more than enough time to make progress. This is really important. If you expect it will take an hour, set aside two hours to allow yourself time to finish. It’s generally counterproductive to create artificial pressure and many leaders do this poorly, anyway. Instead, reward yourself for finishing early when you do and enjoy that you’ve created some discretionary time in your day.
- Plan to succeed by making sure you have all the resources you need to stay focused. The better you can anticipate and prepare your environment to support you, the better you can focus on your priority without having to pop up from your seat to get more water; raise or lower the heat, air conditioning, or shades; or grab a notebook, pen, etc.
Implement these three steps and you’ll be well on your way toward success.