Tell me if this feels familiar…
You are starting or growing a new online business.
You frequently have conversations with other people who also have a business, and walk away with lots of ideas. Every time you go online and watch your Facebook feed, or check your email inbox, you are presented with more ideas, opportunities, and things other people do that you could do too.
While you are excited about the potential in front of you, this feeling quickly turns to overwhelm and a sense of stress. You want to do it all, but for some reason, you don’t seem to do any of it!
Progress is slow at best, and you’re so frustrated because it seems like everyone else is getting so much more done than you. How is it these people can be so productive?
The Paradox Of Choice For Entrepreneurs
Recently here in Toronto where I am living presently, I’ve had conversations with some new friends who are at the early stage of their new online businesses.
These people have skills and knowledge to share with the world, yet they often feel paralyzed and frustrated by what seems like very slow progress.
The problem gets exacerbated because they are constantly stimulated by new ideas as all entrepreneurs are, and since their current project hasn’t completely taken off yet (or they haven’t committed to one yet), it’s easy to feel swayed by other things you can do.
You can even get lost by all the opportunities within one project. Do you create a short course or a flagship training program first? Or run a webinar, or focus on social media, or write a blog? What about looking for affiliates and doing a launch? Or maybe you should focus on private coaching now, or run some kind of lean test to make sure your idea works? Or first hire people to build a team around you?
So many options!!!
If you don’t have a concrete foundation holding you on a path towards a result, it’s easy to jump to another path.
Unfortunately, this has the effect of destroying any momentum you have built up with whatever you had started to do.
The net impact of this is discord. You float around all the time and never feel anchored towards a goal.
You need the anchoring because it helps you with one very powerful technique…
I’m Not Immune To This Problem
I’m not immune to the feeling of frustration and stress from wanting to get more done.
Every time I have a conversation with one of my super productive friends like Nathan Chan from Foundr, or see how much a top achiever like Pat Flynn produces, or hear how good someone else’s product launch did, or read an article about yet another person enjoying success with some new platform or app, I experience a desire to do it all!
On top of this, since I run a podcast where I interview successful people doing similar things to myself, I experience more envy, desire — and thankfully motivation too — to match the results of my interview guests.
It’s natural to compare your own results against the results of others. Unfortunately, we tend to be our own harshest critics, so nothing is ever good enough.
It’s not realistic to do it all, so there is always going to be some feeling of untapped potential (which ideally should fuel your motivation).
Commit To A Project (And Ignore The Rest)
I learned a long time ago that this feeling of wanting to do everything is a trap.
To make matters worse for new entrepreneurs, it’s much easier to fall into this trap when you don’t have a successful project yet.
When you’re not sure what your focus is, you easily jump from idea to idea. We all have plenty of ideas, but if you don’t have an active project that you build on every day, it’s too easy to change focus. There is no loss changing projects if you haven’t built something that has value.
This situation occurs in dating too. If you haven’t stuck with one person long enough, it’s easy to keep dating someone new every week. There’s no sense of loss when nothing is invested in creating something of substance.
When you do finally commit, it becomes much easier to ignore other opportunities. You don’t want to give up the momentum you already have with your current project, for something new that you have to start from scratch.
How I Get Stuff Done
Inside Laptop Lifestyle Academy I write a weekly accountability thread that all other members can see (some other members keep their own accountability thread too). In it I set my weekly goals and report back what I did during the previous week.
This practice is helpful because it keeps me on track and it forces me to focus on priority tasks.
However, the reason this works at all is because I’ve become very good at ignoring.
The act of forcing myself to limit to just the three to five tasks I can work on in one week means I ignore everything else.
Since all or nearly all the tasks tie into the one short term goal, it forces me to decide what project is most important this week.
It’s not just a way to hold yourself accountable, it’s a technique for setting priorities, which gives you the mental freedom that comes from ignoring everything else.
In my experience mental freedom is vital. For you to focus and get projects up and running, you have to have tunnel vision, at least short term.
You need a big long term vision, which contains all the different things you want to do over a period of many years, but that many conflicting projects and goals will mess you up when it comes to short term execution.
Ask Yourself These Questions…
Once a year I sit down and think about what is important to me and my business, and map out a list of project goals for the next year.
I consider all the options, all the potential projects that have grabbed my interest during the previous year, but I ignored to focus on my current project.
I also consider all the outcomes other people in my industry have achieved and ask myself if I would like to do what they have done.
My goal is to get really clear on what I want, without being overtly influenced by envy or greed or similar desires that naturally arise when you hear about other people’s success.
It’s important to be motivated by other’s results, but it’s more important to be true to your own goals, and how your strengths can be used to meet them.
These are the kind of questions I ask myself when going through this process…
- Do I want to do the work required to get that outcome?
- Am I being true to the cause that motivates me, or am I just thinking about the money I can make?
- Is this the best use of my time given other projects I could focus on instead?
- Can I get the same outcome doing something else that is better suited to my strengths?
- What resources do I need in place to get this outcome?
- Does this project fit in with the overall vision, brand and message I want to deliver to the world?
- Are there synergies between this project and other things I have already done that will give me an advantage?
- Fast forward twelve months from now, what outcome would make me happiest?
These are important questions because they give me clarity. Born from this clarity are the projects I choose to focus on during the next 12 months. I then sequence these projects in order of priority, giving more than enough time for each project, and make the commitment to ignore everything else.
The decision to ignore is absolutely vital for peace of mind and productivity. When you ask yourself questions like the above you can be confident you are making the right choices for what you want right now, not something you feel you should do because other people are doing it or just because you like the idea.
What Are You Focused On?
I’ll end this article with an important question…
What are you focused on right now?
When you think of your answer to this question, consider whether your commitment to your cause is powerful enough that you ignore everything else.
Are you truly centered by this goal, or are you trying to juggle multiple projects that are not connected to the core outcome you desire?
Are you easily distracted by new ideas, or things that other people do, to the point that these potential ideas stop you from taking action on your current project?
If you’re not making progress on your current project, ask yourself whether you prioritized your current project for the wrong reasons?
Any time you come across an over-achieving entrepreneur, at the heart of their success is a burning desire. They are driven to succeed by single-minded focus to see their idea come to reality, combined with a sense of urgency to make it happen as soon as possible, and a joy in the process of creation.
What burning desire do you have?