5 Simple Questions that Work Better than Any Resolution

Just asking a few simple yet powerful questions easily beats the 94% failure rate of so-called “resolutions.”

Each year-end I set aside time to think about the past year and the year to come. And over the years I’ve found that just asking a few simple yet powerful questions gets much better results than making resolutions. (Which isn’t saying much: resolutions have a 94% failure rate.)

So I’d like to share five of my questions that could open up some new possibilities for you – whether having a more fulfilling year, reducing or quitting a negative behavior or thought pattern, or just gaining some fresh perspective on things.

How can five simple questions do that?

Because the right questions beget more insight and intention, helping us to stay focused on what’s most important, and steering us away from default behaviors or pursuits that don’t move us forward.

So I invite you to set a timer for 30 or 60 minutes with a pad and pen or keyboard, and spend some quiet quality time with these…

Q1: What Do I Want More Of?

As our Crusher™TV Members probably know, I’m fond of saying, “Screw resolutions! They don’t work. So let’s try some New Year’s SO-lutions!” My favorite of which is simply to commit to doing or having more of what you enjoy or love.

This could be activities, things – even time spent with certain people. Or as lifestyle guru Tim Ferris puts it:

“Any people or activities or commitments that trigger peak positive emotions.”

So, if you can think of even one thing that you love, that is joyful when you do it, it shouldn’t be too tough to go get more of that, right?

Beats the heck out of, “I promise I’ll quit doing this” or “I’m gonna be a better person” or “I’m gonna lose weight,” right?

Q2: What Do I Want Less Of?

What activities or people taxed your energy and spirit – triggered peak negative emotions? You deserve to have less of those in your life.

Maybe it’s a sore spot in a relationship that you’ve been tolerating. Or a negative habit you’d like to mitigate. Even just a “sub-optimal” thing you do that isn’t really serving you.

For example, my wife and I are wine lovers. But having a glass of wine nearly every evening is sub-optimal. While it’s not realistic that I’ll completely remove wine from my life (we’re kinda wine snobs), I do want less of its downside – it affects my sleep quality, takes a little longer for my brain to get cranking the next morning, etc.

Got a sub-optimal activity – or relationship? Make a New Year SO-lution to try and have less of that.

To help you do this, you’ll need to ask…

Q3: What’s the Why for the Sub-Optimal Behavior?

For any of our undesirable habits, crutches, time-wasters, etc., we need to ask…Why is that happening?

Example: If you’re spending more time than you know is healthy in social media or games on your phone, there’s definitely a reason why. It’s often just boredom, or fatigue or escaping from a difficult task. But we need to dive into that and understand the why before we can work to have less of it in our life.

Now, if you’ve identified something you want less of, are clear on the reasons it persists, and have decided to make a change…

Next, you need to ask…

Q4: What Am I Willing (and Not Willing) to Do to Change It?

Back to our wine thing: My wife and I are not willing to stop drinking wine. Yes, we’ll occasionally do a “cleanse” diet for 30 or 90 days, but we are not willing to completely remove the joy of great wines from our lives.

But what we are willing to do is have the following policy: We do not have a glass of wine unless it’s a weekend, a holiday, or we’re with friends.

So consider what might be a “personal policy” with regard to your sub-optimal behavior that you are willing to adopt.

To up your odds of maintaining any such policy…

Q5: What Would Happen if I Didn’t Change Anything?

Maybe you had a great year and feel that staying the course will yield yet another great year. If so, congrats, and I support you! But most of us do want to make changes and yet face resistance to that change.

Asking yourself, “What will result if I just keep doing the same things?” and then dimensionalizing the result (really thinking it through and envisioning your situation and feelings a year from now) can weaken that resistance.

In Closing: It’s All About Intention and Action

These questions are about intentionality and action. When we thoughtfully intend things, we are less likely to just do whatever pops in front of us, or as one of my Coaches Mastermind members puts it, “…letting the world choose for me, instead of me choosing what I want.

Then the real magic happens when that intention begets directed action: It’s not enough to have a desire and make a declaration to change. We need to make new “personal policies” (credit to Gretchen Rubin) for the path forward.

What will be your new policies (that you’re willing to abide by) for the coming year? I’ll see you on the road to our goals!

Bless,

APB

P.S.: Have you ever thought about coaching, but assumed it’s too expensive? I invite you to consider weekly Group Coaching – a way to work directly with me in a group of no more than six like-minded people battling the same battles you are. If you’re even 1% curious, grab a spot on my calendar, and let’s chat.

How to Get More Things Done…by Trying Less

 

We rarely if ever get everything done we hope to on any given day. Which can be very frustrating, to say the least, and, not surprisingly, it’s one of the most common productivity complaints I hear from my busy clients and Crusher™TV Members.

But my advice to them often gets a look of skepticism, if not contempt: “Try less,” I say.

I mean this in two ways: Try taking on less, and stop trying so hard. As my clients will attest, it actually works. Hmmm. OK, how?

In this post, I’ll share three ways to get more things done by trying less. But first, we look at two culprits in not getting as much done as we’d like.

Magical Planning: This is when we plan our day with an unrealistic schedule to accommodate an unrealistic list of to-dos we think we’ll get to today.

And usually being frustrated at the end of the day that we didn’t get all our planned to-dos done.

Second is…

Our Perceived Need to “Catch Up”: This takes many forms: Focusing on non-important to-dos for the sake of “catching up” on our to-do list; deleting emails thinking it will “catch us up” with our inbox; checking the news or social media feeds because we think something salacious may have happened in the last 45 minutes that we need to “catch up on”.

Mostly, such “catching up” just contributes to our overwhelm and stress. (More about that later.)

Let’s get to those three ways to “try less”…

How to Get More Things Done…by Planning ‘Light and Loose’

As noted above, we too often plan “perfect” days in which we’ll get this, that, those, and these other things all done – by filling every nook and cranny of our calendar.

But as the day unfolds, what happens? Life happens. Reality happens, and we end up at day’s end frustrated, having completed maybe a couple of our many planned tasks.

As Stanford’s Bill Burnett says, “No plan for your life will survive first contact with reality.”

Even if you leave some buffers of breathing room in your day’s plan, it’s likely you’re not accounting for what I call Personal Admin: all the little things we need to do throughout our day for which there are no calendar entries: bathroom breaks, grabbing another coffee, back-and-forthing with your friend via email or text, etc.

Plus there’s the significant amount of time needed to transition out of and back into the primary tasks that got interrupted in attending to these things. (Research suggests that each transition can burn 6-15 minutes. Ten transitions a day then equals between one and 2.5 hours!)

So…Let’s stop planning “perfect” days, and instead start planning “lighter and looser.”

Plan Lighter:

If something doesn’t have to happen today or tomorrow, don’t cram it in your calendar today (but you might put it on a “could do” list for the day).

woman with notebookAnd yes, there will be things that don’t have to happen soon, but that are super important – like working on a big project, certain self-care, etc., but more about those “Biggies” below.

But know this: research tells us that the more to-dos we schedule, the less likely we will be to accomplish any of them. Planning less is doing more.

Plan Looser:

Try not to plan in minutes, e.g, “I’ll schedule time to work on this from 9am to 9:45am, then I’ll work on that from 9:45am to 10:45am…”

Sure, some things only take 15 minutes, but you should really be “batching” such little things together into a longer work session you might call Misc. To-Dos.

For all significant tasks, block off bigger-than-you-think-needed chunks of time if possible.

What you should end up with is a schedule for the day with plenty of “white space.” Cuz…life happens!

How to Get More Things Done…by Focusing on Fewer Biggies

You probably know what I mean by “Biggies” – those Quadrant II (important but not urgent) items, per Dr. Stephen Covey’s Eisenhower Matrix.

They’re the things that move our business, career and personal life forward and upward: big projects, longer-term planning, education and training, relationship-building, etc.

So we’re not talking here about the miscellaneous things we might need to deal with on any given day – renewing our insurance, returning those phone calls, planning the birthday party or picking up the dry cleaning.

Biggies are your top priorities. And per the aforementioned research, the rule of thumb in productivity circles is to focus on no more than three Biggies per day.

But for those of us who feel the least bit overwhelmed, three is too many. We should really narrow it down to one per day (I typically work on one or two – and I’m a productivity coach!) – knowing that we must leave some time/energy for those Misc. To-Dos.

How to Get More Things Done…by NOT Trying to Catch Up!

Think about how much time we devote to trying to “catch up” – on our emails (checking our inbox multiple times per hour); on our to-do list (by focusing on non-urgent, non-important to-dos); on the news or sports headlines (even though we just checked a couple hours ago); with our friends and on social media, etc.

Now, all of these activities are valid on some level, but here’s the problem…

They tend to be things we do to escape from working on our Biggies!

We’ll never actually get caught up on any of this stuff. There’ll be more of it an hour from now.

As such, “catching up” is a key contributor to our overwhelm and stress.

Now, this is a big issue – way bigger than one section of one blog can deal with. But here’s the basic upshot:

Take a look at your “catching up” activities and ask if they are…

…truly urgent

…truly important

…truly resulting in more spaciousness

Because when we recognize “catching up” as the false friend that it is, and focus more on the truly urgent and truly important, guess what happens. We start actually getting… caught up!

A Closing Quote

Productivity guru Brian Tracy says, “Every minute of planning saves you 10 minutes in execution.” There’s certainly truth in that (and I do hope you’re starting every day with some kind of pause-and-plan to ask, “What’s this day gonna be about?”).

But the benefits of planning don’t pan out when we’re planning “perfect days.”

Get imperfect with me. Try less.

And remember – whatever’s in your way is yours to CRUSH!

Bless!

APB

P.S.: Have you ever thought about coaching, but assumed it’s too expensive? I invite you to consider weekly Group Coaching – a way to work directly with me in a group of no more than six like-minded people battling the same battles you are. If you’re even 1% curious, grab a spot on my calendar, and let’s chat.

Better Time Management with the Power of No

Saying “No” — to others or even yourself — isn’t easy. But if you struggle at all with time management (or overwhelm, or stress or…), then you need more of the Power of No in your life.

Because saying No to the things that don’t benefit you frees up time to focus on what does. Whether it’s at work, with family, or anywhere else you need better time management for your priorities, No is the way. Even a smidgeon of well-placed No across your day can quickly add up to a palpable reduction in stress and boost in focus.

Better Time Management

Saying No can be difficult. But the Power of No can be life-changing.

A Lesson in No: Steve Jobs

The controversial, world-changing Apple founder and CEO got fired from his own company because he said No to business pursuits he knew were leading the company’s focus astray. And of course he was right. So he was famously re-hired, then angered even more people with even more Nos on his way to making the company the most valued in the world.

Here’s a quote from him you can actually do something with (I only like quotes you can actually DO something with! I hope you will, too!):

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying No to the hundred other [things] there are.”  – Steve Jobs

Now, saying No can be tough. Especially when it involves other people…

⊗ Saying “no” to a spouse, a relative or a friend when asked to go somewhere or do something you’d rather not…
⊗ Saying “no” to a demanding client request, even if it’s not totally legitimate…
⊗ Saying “no” to your child, especially as they get older, wiser and craftier with their counter-arguments…
⊗ Saying “no” to a new project or additional work.

Learn to Say No

And while the following brutally frank quote may be true…

“‘No’ might make them angry. But it will make you free.” – Nayyirah Waheed

…we can’t not care about making people angry. So, one trick is to say No without saying “NO!!”

And there’s actually a handful of tricks for doing so, all of which I share in Crusher™TV Episode 45, but in this blog it’s more important to discuss pre-empting the need for the No!

Know Your ‘Yes’ Triggers

Saying “no” especially in interpersonal situations is tough, so ideally, you’d steer clear of situations where you’re are likely to issue a helpless, “Oh, OK.”

The first step in leveraging the Power of No for better time management, is to know your own particular Yes Triggers. For instance, my colleague Susan Lasky has her clients consider the following questions…

Are you particularly sensitive to confrontation or disharmony?

Are you worried about being judged in some way?

Do you tend to have an unrealistic sense of time and/or workload when saying “yes”?

Consider also who the asker is — which can itself be a trigger. There’s the friend trigger — can’t diss your friend! There’s the authority trigger — can’t diss the boss or another higher-up. There’s the reciprocity trigger — hey, I do owe him one.

Know your trigger, and “no” gets way easier!

A Closing Thought on Better Time Management via No

Practice on some little Nos and, with practice, you’ll start getting comfortable with the really tough Nos that may come your way in life.

Like saying No to the job or career that’s not ringing your bell anymore. Saying No to a convenient but crappy relationship. Or saying No to a potential client who isn’t a good fit with with your temperament or your values.

Eventually, you get to the place where, to quote one serial entrepreneur…

“If something is not a ‘hell, yeah!’ then it’s a ‘no’!”  – James Altucher: 

But meantime, always say Yes to the firm belief that…Whatever’s in your way is yours to crush!

Want More Ways to Access the Power of No?

I dedicated a Crusher™TV episode to The Power of No: How to Guard Your Personal Boundaries, and you can click to watch the short preview below. (If you’re not a Crusher™TV Member and would like to watch the entire Episode and any of over 100 “mini-masterclasses” teaching productivity and personal development, you can join for $1 at Crusher™TV and cancel any time ya like.) Preview Episode 45 by clicking the image below:

Guard Your Personal Boundaries Episode 45 Preview

Episode Description: The more stuff you say “Yes” to, the smaller the percent of your time will be yours. In Crusher™TV Episode 45, I share simple ways to guard your personal boundaries and say YES to what matters.

Bless!
Alan
P.S.: Other Things to Always Say YES To: Elimination. Automation. Consolidation. Delegation. Anything that “multiplies your time.” And going for a walk. Getting quiet. Shutting the hell up (they’re different). Sleep, rest and recovery. Love, APB.

Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

How to Finish a Major Project or Idea

Learn a Simple Trick to Re-Start and Finish

Wish you could figure out how to finish a major project that’s been dormant for too long? Want to know a simple trick that’ll help you re-start and finish any major project?

Maybe finally launch that book or business or website? Nail that extra-credit project at work?

How to finish a major project SLIDE

We’ve all experienced this frustration: You’re halfway into that big project for work, and the deadline is approaching, but you have just zero motivation or energy right now to lift it up off that back burner and fire up the stove again.

Or, you’re down to the last mile — or meter, or inch — of your book or website re-design, but what remains feels like the most arduous slog of the whole dang thing!

Research-Based Strategies to the Rescue

Take heart. There are research-based strategies that can help you regain your clarity and energy to get back to work on — and blast through what remains of — your biggest ideas and projects. And I’ll share one of them with you here.

How to finish a major project No Symbol

Just to set this up, in Crusher™TV Episode 109: How to Finally Finish Your Big Project or Idea, I shared four debilitating Barriers to Finishing Any “Big Thing,” and 4 evidence-based, get-it-done solutions for how to finish a major project or idea.

And there’s one solution that I didn’t have time to cover in that Episode, yet it’s absolutely killer for re-starting, re-engaging and finally finishing even your biggest, scariest projects. It’s called…

The Fresh Start Effect

Now, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “New year, new you!” And we’re all energized in some way, to some extent, by the prospect of that new beginning of the New Year, right?

Indeed, that chance for a fresh start gives us energy and purpose. It’s why every year 50% of us are motivated to create New Year’s resolutions.

But did you know that you can replicate this psychological and motivational effect any time?

Yep. You can do it with the first of the month. Or the 15th of the month. Or with next Monday! What? How??

Daniel Pink, in his bestselling book When, writes,

“Temporal landmarks interrupt attention to day-to-day minutiae, causing people to take a big picture view of their lives and thus focus on achieving their goals.”  

He notes that Google searches for the word “diet” increase by 82% at the start of the New Year. Not surprising.

How to Finish a Major Project - PinkBut — searches for the word “diet” also bump up 14% at the start of each new week! Year-round!

Gym attendance bumps up at the start of a new week – and immediately after people’s birthdays. This tells us that our brain is always looking for a temporal fresh starting point.

And you can use this phenomenon to dig back into that long-languishing project – or one that’s coming due pretty soon that you just can’t muster the dopamine or adrenaline to jump on right now.

How to Finish a Major Project with a Fresh Start

You can create any temporal landmark you like, any time. You can totally make it up! Here are some more thought-starters:

Plan to re-start on the 1st of the new month.

Declare that, before the weekend begins, it’s “Finish-It Friday.” Or “Start-It Saturday.”

Celebrate your birthday or your child’s birthday with a fresh start.

Anything can be a demarcation for re-starting. But you need to make a big deal about it, or it won’t fire you up. So here’s what I recommend:

Put it in your calendar – blocking off just an hour or so for that re-start — with an alert to pop up two days before, then one day before, and then day-of. Then be sure to singletask on that project for that hour – or even as little as 30min. — the key is that you…start!

Setting a fresh-start temporal landmark is not only a procrastination-busting brain hack. Research shows that it also allows us to “deliberate at a higher level and make better decisions.”

How to Finish a Major project New Week

So – if you’ve got a project or a big idea that’s been stuck in neutral collecting dust or threatening to cause harm to your career (or your domestic tranquility), create a new beginning – a fresh start – with a temporal demarcation of your choosing.

Put it in your calendar and treat it like it’s New Year’s Day. Hey, Happy New Year! Or, Happy New Month! Or, Happy Monday!

Want More Solutions for How to Finish a Major Project?

As mentioned above, I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to How to Finish a Major Project, and I dig deeper into this topic.

How to Finish a Major Project PLAY

You might get a lot out of watching that entire episode of Crusher™TV where I share 4 Barriers to Finishing Any “Big Thing,” plus four more get-it-finished solutions. (You can become a member for a buck and cancel any time you like.) It’s Episode 109, and you can preview it by clicking the image.

Bless!

Alan

Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

How to Delegate Work Online

Do This Simple Exercise and Work LESS

If you’re overwhelmed at work, at home, or both, there’s a good chance you’re not delegating enough. And if that’s the case, it may be because you,

A) don’t know what or to whom to delegate

B) don’t know how to delegate smoothly, and/or

C) maybe you just haven’t calculated the massive benefits of delegation.

In Crusher™TV Episode 111: 5 Secrets to Delegating Work (So You Can Work Less), I dove into all three of these areas.

Crusher™TV Episode 111: How to Delegate Work So YOU Can Work LESS

But in this post, I want to focus in on one of those how-to-delegate secrets: How to Delegate Work Online.

Knowing How to Delegate: A Critical Survival Skill

Delegating is of course a critical survival skill in the corporate world – but also in our own small businesses, and even in running our households. There’s a reason why all successful people delegate like crazy.

It allows us to focus on the tasks and projects that really power us forward and upward. Yet delegation is a tricky skill nobody ever really teaches you. Not in school, or even on the job.

OHow to Delegate Unhappy Employeesne of the reasons I floundered in my first six years as a corporate executive, despite hard work and long hours, was that I didn’t know how to delegate. Every year I’d get a positive review — but not the promotion. Because, as my bosses would say, “Alan, we can’t put more people under you, because the ones that are, don’t have anything to do. You’re doing it ALL!” And needless to say, my team was miserable.

But over the years, I learned the real reasons I wasn’t delegating, the ideal tasks I should be delegating, and those secrets to delegating smoothly and effectively.

The Huge Benefits of Delegating Work

How to Delegate Time MultiplierImagine if you had significantly more time and less stress in your workdays. If you had more spaciousness to focus solely on those important tasks and projects you never used to have enough time for, because you were always so busy with the constant barrage of other, less meaningful stuff. Behold the Power of Delegation!

Whether in the corporate world, in our own small businesses — and even in running our households — delegation is a perfect example of what corporate consultant Rory Vaden calls, a “time multiplier” —

What we delegate today creates more time for us tomorrow. Then more the next day. And the next…and just keeps on multiplying.

Now I’m sure you’d like to multiply your time. But maybe you’ve tried to delegate some things in the past, and just created more work and frustration.

Don’t give up. Here’s an easy, powerful delegation solution…

How to Delegate Work by “Wasting” Money Online

As I mentioned, in Crusher™TV Episode 111, I shared 5 Secrets to Delegating Work so You Can Work Less, and Secret #5 was to “Waste” Money Online. I’ll explain…

Ep111DelegateSolutionsBLOG

The key to this secret is an exercise from author and human guinea pig Tim Ferriss, who says, “I’m always looking for something I can spend money on that gives me more free time.”

In fact, he speaks of looking for ways he can “waste” money to improve his quality of life by experimenting with delegation. Sounds like poor money management, but it’s not. Done right, he says, “it’s trading pennies for dollars.”

And the best way to experiment with your money is online – at sites like Task Rabbit, Fiverr and Upwork.

What kinds of tasks might you delegate online? The possibilities are virtually limitless. Which itself makes it difficult to know what to delegate online. So here’s an exercise Ferriss recommends:

1. Pretend you have $1000 a month available to “waste” online to improve your quality of life (even if that’s unrealistic — just play along).

2. Think about anything and everything you could delegate online, set a timer and make a list. Don’t edit – just write anything that comes to mind.

3. Then, from that list, identify one or two things you could “waste” a little money experimenting with. (It doesn’t have to be the entire $1,000/mo.)

And here’s a bonus: Recent research at Cornell found that, “People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction.”

When you can break down your  barriers to delegation, identify what to delegate, and then how to delegate those tasks, you not only can de-stress and work less, but you’re more able to focus on what you do best!

More Secrets for How to Delegate Work So You Can Work Less

Want four more powerful secrets for how to delegate work (online or in-person — at the office or at home)? I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to the 5 Secrets to Delegating Work (So You Can Work Less). 

Click the image below to watch the Episode Preview.

Episode 111 Preview

Episode Description: Overwhelmed at work or home? There’s a 90% chance you’re not delegating enough. And that’s because you A) don’t know what/to whom to delegate, B) don’t know how to delegate smoothly, and/or C) haven’t calculated the massive benefits. I’ll show you all three. With my interview of strengths coach Alissa Daire Nelson.

Alan

Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to accomplish more in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.

How to Finally Get Started on a Big Project or Idea

This One Tip Will Help You “Just Do It”

Starting can be tough. Especially on important and/or big tasks/projects/ideas. And the things that are stopping you from starting come in many forms. But their collective name is Resistance. I want to share with you a powerful quote about this phenomenon, which contains a simple formula for how to break through the Resistance and get started on a big project — or your big thing.

This is based on CrusherTV™ Episode 108: How to Finally Start Your Big Idea/Project, which was part of a series of Episodes revolving around what I call The Roadmap of Any “Big Thing” – whether that’s your book, your side-hustle, your major project at work, or just cleaning out that @#$%! garage.

The Roadmap consists of 4 Phases…

 

Roadmap for Any Big Project

The Roadmap for Any “Big Thing”: Each Phase has unique barriers to action.

In that series of Episodes I talked about the importance of understanding which of the 4 Phases of a Big Thing you’re stuck in. Because each Phase has its own unique barriers and solutions – and once you identify that Phase, you can choose the right mental solutions for breaking through to the next level – and onward to completion.

The Barriers to Get Started on a Big Project

How many projects or big ideas are sitting on your to-do list right now? Be honest — everybody has at least one. Maybe you have three – or thirty!

Barrier to starting on a big project Temporal DiscountingNo matter how many you have, I would bet that 90% of them are un-started due to one of three key barriers to starting – the three reasons we have so many un-started, unfinished ideas and projects lying around.

The first is Temporal Discounting (“Hey, it’s not due ’til next month, so, uh…”  Or worse, if it’s our own big idea, there’s no deadline at all!).

The second barrier is Fear of Failure. Quoting productivity guru Peter Bregman:

“We procrastinate on that big project precisely because it’s important. So important, in fact, that we’re too scared to work on it. ‘I’m afraid. Afraid that I’ll fail. That I’ll spend a lot of time on it — while other more immediate things don’t get done — and it’ll be terrible, anyway.’”   TWEET THIS  

But the biggest barrier on the bigger, more complex ideas, projects and tasks is Not Knowing Where to Start. We just think about starting it and, because it’s got a lot of moving parts or requires the help of others, we get a feeling of overwhelm and paralysis.

Barrier to start a big project Not KnowingAnd then we say, “Ah…Ya know what? I’ll figure it out later.”

Which is understandable, because a common characteristic of all “Big Things” is that their structure is big, complex and often, unclear.

But all three barriers – temporal discounting, fear of failure and not knowing where to start — tend to mix together in a powerful cocktail of Resistance: “I don’t know where to start. So I doubt I’ll have any success if I do start. But hey – I’ve got time. I’ll start it when I ‘figure it all out’ and my fear subsides!”

And that, of course, never happens. Which is why so many of our own big ideas sit in dusty drawers, and so many big work projects end up being slapped together at the 11th hour.

In Episode 108 I shared three solutions to beat procrastination and crush these barriers: A brain hack, a powerful tool you’ve probably heard of, and a no-brainer physical hack.

Right now I’ll serve up the brain hack with a quote from Steven Pressfield’s awesome book, Do the Work. I’ll share the full quote, but then we’ll circle back to dig in to some details – because there’s a lot of great procrastination psychology in it…

Start before you’re ready. Don’t prepare. Begin. Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account. The enemy is Resistance…our chattering brain, which, if we give it so much as a nanosecond, will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we know we need to do.”   TWEET THIS

Pretty powerful quote, and as I said, there’s a lot in there. Let’s take a closer look…

Start Before You’re Ready

How many times have you said to yourself, “Well, I would start on my book/app/side-hustle/project – but first I need to do X,” or, “First I need to figure out Y”?

If we really examine our thinking around getting started on something big, we’d see this is the case: we construct reasons why we CAN’T start on it right now. But if we knew we didn’t have to prepare – actually SHOULDN’T prepare — there’d be no excuse for not starting!

The quote goes on to talk about Resistance and I just want to dig into that a bit more, because it’s so important to understand this phenomenon…

The Enemy Is Resistance

“Remember, our enemy is not lack of preparation; it’s not the difficulty of the project or the state of the marketplace or the emptiness of our bank account.”

Think about all those things: they are not reasons for not starting. They are excuses for not starting. They let us off the hook for taking action. That’s why “the enemy is Resistance…our chattering brain.” We manufacture these excuses to buy us time and ease our discomfort.

Starting on a big thing is UN-comfortable! And we as humans avoid discomfort. That’s why, “if we give it so much as a nanosecond, [our brain] will start producing excuses, alibis, transparent self-justifications, and a million reasons why we can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do what we need to do.”

So just to sum this up: The reason we haven’t started on our big idea is that our busy brain doesn’t want us to, and it’s handing us all kinds of reasons why:

“Oh, I need to do X first.”

Or “I need to talk with Y first.”

Or, “I need to prepare by doing Z first – then I’ll be ready to start.”

No!! Start before you’re ready.

To Get Started on a Big Project — Don’t Prepare. Begin.

And what’ll happen when you do heave yourself out of the Resistance and into any kind of action on your big idea or project, is that you’ll feel liberated. But just as importantly, you’ll start to get ideas on what to do next.

Then, you’ll start to develop a bias for MORE action!!

So…What big thing are you NOT starting because you think you need to do X first, or learn Y first, or talk to So-and-So first? Start…before…you’re ready!

More Tips to Get Started On Your Big Project/Idea

Want a couple more powerful solutions to help you beat procrastination on your big idea or project? I dedicated an episode of Crusher™TV to How to Finally Start Your Big Project/Idea, where I dig really deep into this common procrastination challenge. 

You can click the image below to watch the Episode Preview, which itself contains a brief description of the 4 Phases of a Big Thing that will surely resonate with you.

How-to-Start-a-Big-Project

Episode Description: We all have at least one big idea or project we want or need to start. But too often, they languish, un-started. I’ll show why you’re stuck and evidence-based ways to get going on your biggest, scariest idea/project. Plus, coach Lynne Edris shares keys to your Unique Operating System.

 

 

Bless!

Alan

Alan P Brown CrusherTVAlan P. Brown, an internationally recognized Productivity Coach, TEDx Speaker and #1 Best Selling Author of Zen and the Art of Productivity: 27 Easy Ways to Have More Time, Earn More Money and Live Happier is the host of Crusher™TV, where he and his Guest Experts share simple ways to get more done in less time with less stress. Follow Alan on Twitter and on Facebook.