When you’re working towards a goal there are always more things to do. Every day you have to make choices about what to do next, and what to put off a while. There’s only so much you can get done in a day!
Choosing what to do next is one of the most important decisions you make. Get it right, and you’ll rocket towards your goal. Get it wrong, and you’ll flounder around forever.
I’ve done both.
The difference was how I chose what to do next. Here’s something I learned from Tony Robbins to help you decide what action to take next.
Do the thing you fear the most.
List all the things you think you need to do to take the next step to your goal. Find the one that really scares you. Do it next.
How I got this wrong
Years ago I decided I wanted to start a business helping people do better with their money. I’ve always been into personal finance, and I thought this would be a great way to do two things I love: helping people win, and personal finance.
So I decided to try it. I built a website, wrote a ton of content, designed a business card, and opened for business. Much like everyone else’s first attempt at starting a business, nobody else seemed to notice.
My mission for the next eight months was to get traction and start to grow this thing! But I did all the wrong things. I did all the easy things. The safe things.
I chose to pick at my website design rather than talk face to face with people about their money. I created contact forms instead of going out and making contacts.
The one thing I really should have been doing was the things that scared me the most: talking to real people about their money face to face.
If I had taken the time to write down all the things I could’ve done to move forward it would’ve been obvious what to do. Meet new people. Talk to people. Learn from the people I wanted to help. These are the scary things that would move me forward. This was the real work I needed to do.
The answer was never to fix the design of a website with very little traffic. It was never about creating a business card so amazing people would break down my door to find me.
How I got this right
A few months back I was thinking about launching a workshop to help service based entrepreneurs start a new business. I was taking some revolutionary methods from the tech startup world (where I work) and applying them to online service businesses. It was going to be awesome!
If I followed the same path I did with the personal finance business I’d have wasted a lot of time. I would’ve spent weeks or months hiding in my office plugging away at lessons and worksheets and landing pages. Everything would’ve been near perfect when I finally unveiled my idea months later.
But I’ve been down that road, and I knew that when I got to the ribbon cutting ceremony it’d probably just be me and my wife.
Instead I went about the business of facing my fears and doing the real work to move my idea forward.
- Instead of building a website, I built a picture of a website (really fast).
- Instead of writing lesson plans, I interviewed potential customers to find out what they really needed.
- Instead of creating worksheets and videos, I practiced selling my workshop in the real world.
You know what I learned? I learned it’s an awesome product, but my platform was too small at the time. I learned I could fill up half a class, but after that my network was tapped out.
And I learned all that in a month. Four straight weeks of doing work that matters, facing my fears, and getting my hands really dirty.
The difference between these two failures
Neither of these business ideas took off, but they “failed” in very different ways.
My personal finance business I use mostly as a cautionary tale about how I messed up. I tell people about my experience, my journey, and what they can do differently to avoid wasting a year doing the same thing.
On the other hand, my business workshop was a huge success in my mind. In four weeks I learned more about my target market, what they need, and how much they’ll pay then I learned in an entire year with the personal finance business. It’s still on my list of things to do when the time is right, and it’s work I can use one on one with my clients now.
All because I did the work I feared the most.
How to put this into action
What long term goal are you working towards right now? Pull out a sheet of paper and list all the things you’re doing right now to move it forward. Now brainstorm some other ways you could move things along. Get it all out there on paper so you can stand back and look at it.
Now what do you see? Which tasks are busywork? Which tasks are important? Which tasks will really move the needle?
Now you know the most important things you need to be doing to win. Next, use the quarterback method to get about the business of doing them. If you get stuck, make sure you check out this article about how to face your fears and do big things that freak you out.