I had a conversation with one of my students recently where she lamented that her business has not moved forward at all. She’s an incredible decorator, knows all the right things to do, has created a ton of lists, has a supportive family and desperately wants to leave her job. She just… isn’t doing anything about that To Do list, instead procrastinating (hardcore – we’re talking months, not hours or days) and not moving forward. We talked a lot about trying to find the cause of her lack of progress. The “easy” answer is usually FEAR – something I’ve written about a lot. Fear of succeeding, fear of failing, it makes no difference if the result is total paralysis and a lack of action!
She admitted that yes, she has a few fears – but I sensed there was more to it than that. I asked her WHY she wants to be in business, and that’s where the conversation got interesting. “I don’t know, I’ve just always wanted to own my own business,” was her answer. The problem with that answer is that it’s not compelling enough – it’s much weaker than her “no” reasons. Let me explain that. When we’re deciding to things and we take massive, LASTING action – it’s because the pain of our current situation has become unbearable. Change ONLY happens when the pain becomes TOO GREAT, so the only option left to us is to take action. This kinda makes me sad, to think that we only make changes when things are well and truly miserable. Wouldn’t it be MUCH nicer to make changes based on massive, positive benefit? Pain is a great motivator, but I think we should have a HELL YES motivator much more than a HELL NO one.
In this case, it was EASY for her to come up with loads reasons for why she couldn’t, shouldn’t, wasn’t moving forward – I’m scared, I don’t want to be criticised, I’m worried people will see me, I want to hide behind the cake, my job isn’t really that bad, we need the money (etc). What she didn’t have was a sufficiently strong hell YES reason to move forward. With no massively painful reason to leave the job behind, and no BRIGHT SHINY AWESOME reason to move forward, you just end up…stuck in the middle. It’s comfortable and warm in there, but it’s not exactly doing you any favours.
Have you ever had this experience? Of wanting to do something – really, truly I do, I swear! – but just not doing it? Getting fit, trying new things, reaching out to new people, trying a new product, losing weight, going for a new job… and on and on. SO MANY THINGS we want to do in life but we just… DON’T.
I think it’s because the pain isn’t great enough AND you don’t have a good enough YYYYYEEESSSSS YES YES OMG YES reason for moving forward. The motivating reason, the WHY, the shiny sparkly thing you actually want to chase badly enough that you’ll chase it BECAUSE of it, not because the alternative sucks so much. You might have heard me refer to this as your “big why” or your “3am reason” but for me it’s actually more than that – it’s the thing which gets you to move in the first place, not only the thing which will help you work THROUGH it. It’s not just “Why am I doing this?” it’s “Why should I even start this?” – and it’s especially important for those of you who have started down the path a tiny ways, and now just find yourself stuck. A lot of times we start down the business path and get stuck (for many, many reasons) so we’ve got to find the reason to UN-STUCK ourselves, and that reason has to be stronger, shinier, more important than the reason we’re letting our feet stay glued to the floor.
Let me let you in on a secret – my reason for doing things IS actually based in pain – the pain of NOT doing something is horrible to me. I hate the idea of being stuck, the idea of not trying, the idea of wondering “what if.” I’m a doer, I trier, a “get stuff done” person, so the idea of being stuck or not moving IS ACTUALLY PAINFUL to me. So – my YES is pretty simple – I’d rather be able to say I tried it than say I got stuck.