When you see someone you haven’t seen for a while, how do you greet them? We often ask “how have you been doing?” We also start with “what have you been doing,” particularly of other business owners or co-workers.
We ask ourselves:
What am I going to do today?
What did I do yesterday that can come off my list?
It’s a great feeling to tick a task off a list.
What can I do next?
The doing makes us feel productive, so much so that any plan might be a good one, as long as there is “doing” happening.
We have our to do list and our plans and we march along the path we have set for ourselves. The focus is on what we decided to accomplish and how we intend to meet our targets. Other possibilities are no longer in our line of sight.
We don’t see the mountain to the right of us when we are staring at the trail (or the mountain lion either).
I was recently speaking with a client who was struggling. We spoke about what she had been doing, but the struggle really was a result of what she had not been doing.
There was a laundry list of actions she had been taking. However, a more essential list of steps exists. These are ideas outside of her awareness, that she may or may not have considered, but that were not part of her current plan.
Whether she was not aware, or was avoiding or procrastinating was not immediately important. She was not asking herself the question – what am I not doing that could make a greater impact?
Often our challenges are a result of what we are not doing. The actions we are taking are just not making it happen. If you are not seeing the results you want, reflect on what you are not doing that is crucial but difficult.
If you can’t see what you could be doing that would make a difference, get help from other people, books, or any resource that can offer tips and best practices and honestly examine whether you are excluding activities that are creating great results for others.
I’m not advising blindly copying what others do, or taking advice because it’s worked for someone else in your industry. However, you don’t know what you don’t know, so learn more and see if an action outside of your plan, and potentially out of your comfort zone, might make a significant difference.
Here are a few examples:
If you are spending most of your time behind your computer, perhaps you have not had enough of the actual conversations that would lead to sales or job interviews. Relationships are everything, and one can only go so far in the virtual space. What you might not be doing is picking up the phone which could be a vital leap forward.
Perhaps you are currently employed and planning to start a business. Are you talking to people about your idea and networking, or are you keeping it a secret until you leave your current position?
You want to scale your business but you are doing everything yourself, including the work that is not your expertise and that you are overqualified to do. You are not hiring the help that could move you exponentially forward.
What are the reasons you might not include the most potentially rewarding tactics in your daily operations? Below are some common reasons people don’t do what needs to be done.
Procrastination and Delaying – You will do it, as soon as … There are many reasons to procrastinate and put off a project, a hire, or starting something new. Oftentimes, procrastination is equated with perfectionism. Without getting into the many reasons people procrastinate, Tim Urban humorously explains what goes on in the brain from his perspective in this TED talk. More importantly at the end, he highlights the cost of procrastination.
Vulnerability – Plain and simple, showing up in certain ways makes one feel more at risk for criticism, rejection and other potentially painful experiences. Spending time comparing oneself with others only makes it more difficult to show up authentically and take charge. What is the worst case scenario? You get stung, maybe multiple times? You will never know how much people might embrace you or what you offer if you are focused on the potential rejection.
Avoidance – You may avoid the exact moves that will propel you forward because you haven’t adjusted your identity to BE that person who is taking the actions you are avoiding. Rethink who you are as you move along, so you can accept yourself in an unfamiliar form.
Allowing Interrupters – You are likely a nice person and when others in your life need something, you stop and attend to their needs. It’s allowing the urgent to supercede the important. In this case, it’s an easy way out of breaking through your own insecurities and fears. It’s “positive procrastination,” and therefore easier to justify. The other justifiable one is learning instead of doing.
Bright Shiny Object Syndrome – We have all experienced when a new idea comes to mind, and it is so good and so clear that you don’t even feel like you need to write it down because there is no way you could forget such a gem. It is all consuming for a day or more, but then another idea of equal brilliance shows up. The first idea is old news and has lost the initial magic and becomes back burner material, if you remember it at all. Ideation is a great strength unless you can’t commit, then ideas are distractions.
I’m willing to bet there is an idea in your mind to move your career or business forward that you have considered, maybe many times, and have not tried. Decide to try one activity or business tactic that you are not doing now and see what happens.