I wouldn’t *exactly* call myself a patient person. I know few millennials who do. This impatience arises in my business ALL.THE.TIME.
I find myself wishing I were already there. Despite usually being able to focus on my work, I’m almost distracted in my drive to get the work done.
Basically, I suck the life and fun out of my own work. And I know I’m not alone in this. The times I’ve mentioned this aloud, there’s a chorus of “me-toos” and “I’m the sames” that echo.
Nonetheless, building a profitable and sustainable business is a long-game. Not an overnight scheme.
When I really think about it. I have exhibited great patience in achieving many of my goals. As I’m sure you have to.
So while patience is a virtue. Today I want to give a few small shifts you can make to achieve your goals faster.
1 // Begin with the end in mind
This is basic, but somehow still often overlooked. If you want to truly perform at your best and see the greatest results in your business you have to start with the end in mind.
There’s a story recounted about Will Smith. Someone came into his home and saw that he had post its laid out all over one of the walls. When his visitor asked what he was doing he explained that he was working on a new movie project. He put all of the different elements of his project on different post its. All the characters, scenes, plots twists, etc.
His visitor responded, “that seems overwhelming. How do you even know where to start?”
Will replied, “oh no, that’s the easy part. Of course, I start with the end.”
Everything else is leading up to the end point, so you have to know where you want to go. Same as if you were taking a road trip. Before you can figure out anything else you’ve got to be clear on where you’re trying to end up.
Yet so many skip over this part. They just start working. Doing different tasks willy nilly and hoping that at one point they’ll all come together.
While this has undoubtedly worked for some. It’s not the best approach.
Start with the end in mind. Get a very clear picture of it in your mind.
In fact, the more clearly you can see where you’re going — what that outcome will look like. The better.
If you can hold a mental picture of what you want to create, you’ll open your mind up for imagination and creativity. For different and better solutions. For forces outside of you to support you in reaching your goals.
2 // Focus on the One Thing
If you want to reach your goals faster than focus on one thing at a time.
One of the most pervasive and lease empowering myths of our time is multitasking.
Multitasking is not a thing. It just isn’t.
In one my favorite books, The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Pasan, the authors take it further by saying that multitasking is not only NOT a thing, but it’s a lie:
It’s a lie because nearly everyone accepts it as an effective thing to do. It’s become so mainstream that people actually think it’s something they should do, and do as often as possible. We not only hear talk about it, we even hear talk about getting better at it. More than six million webpages offer answers on how to do it, and career websites list “multitasking” as a skill for employers to target and for prospective hires to list as a strength. Some have gone so far as to be proud of their supposed skill and have adopted it as a way of life. But it’s actually a “way of life,” for the truth is multitasking is neither efficient nor effective. In the world of results, it will fail you every time.
We think that we can do it. But in truth, no person is a competent multitasker. If you’ve been priding yourself on multitasking...first of all, stop it right now. All it means is that you’re doing multiple things less effectively.
“Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.” — Steve Uzzell
Quitting multitasking cold turkey is the first step. But if you really want to super-charge your business results, than taking it a few steps further.
Narrow your focus. Ideally, to the one thing that will really get you what you want.
In The One Thing it’s defined through the question: what’s the ONE THING I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
We have become so entrenched in a world of doing multiple things that we’ve lost hold of the fact that to see the greatest results in the least amount of time, we must focus on the one thing that makes everything else easier.
This doesn’t mean you have to do one thing all day long and it’s the only thing that you do. But you do need to prioritize.
Prioritizing means putting the important things first. Assigning value to our tasks. Accepting that not all tasks have been created equally — which is most people’s default.
It doesn’t serve us, though.
We spend just as much time on the activities that are not high value. And that won’t move our business forward as we do on the things that are really and truly important.
If you’re not sure what you should be focusing on in your business then take the Focus Formula quiz. In just 11 questions it will let you know what’s really keeping you from seeing the results you want in your business.
With undivided focus we can accomplish our goals and move on to the next thing. It creates a domino effect so that we can continuously accomplish bigger and bigger goals.
For example, let’s say your vision is to have an online course for photographers
It opens up 2x per year
You enroll 75 students during each enrollment period
The course is fully created based off a mentoring curriculum you’ve already established
You have the material, you just need people to sell to. In this case, your one thing might be growing an engaged email list.
Once you know the one thing for you to focus on you’ll determine how to best approach it.
If we stick with the list building example, you might start by brainstorming all the possible ways for you to grow your email list by leading to a content upgrade.
But keeping the principle of a narrow focus in mind, instead of doing all of these activities, focus on just one (maybe two). And then pursue that with focused commitment for a period of time and then evaluate your results.
Our sense of FOMO (fear of missing out) is so pervasive and strong that many of us are just scared to narrow our focus. We think if we focus in on one thing we’ll miss out on too much. That we won’t get the results we want. But in reality, the opposite is often true.
3 // Focus on the important and not urgent activities
To figure out if something might fall within an activity to focus on or not is to consider the Eisenhower matrix. Also known as priority matrix.
A priority matrix is just a way of considering whether something should be prioritized.
How do we determine this? Based on the level of importance and urgency of the activity.
Our natural inclination is to focus on activities that are urgent. Regardless of whether they are important. This is a big part of why our days run away with us.
If you’ve ever felt like your business is running you, instead of the other way around, there’s a good chance that you’re approaching the urgent activities of your day as top priorities.
The problem with prioritizing urgent activities in your week is that they’ll always be new and different urgent activities to focus on. The activities that are most critical to your businesses actual growth are going to fall into the category of important and not urgent.
Of course, urgent activities still should get done. But not at the expense of the non-urgent activities.
Easiest way to approach this? Plan your week with the activities in Quadrant 1 as the top priority. That was these activities get designated time on your calendar. If it’s scheduled it gets done.
Approach your day with the activities in Quadrant 2. That way, each day you do still deal with the activities that are important and urgent, without displacing those important and non urgent activities.
The things in quadrant 3 are those that are most easily outsourced. Outsource them if you can.
Things that are not important and not urgent. Just avoid doing them during the work day. They may have their time and place, it’s just not when you’re working.
4 // Be ok being out of balance
Balance, like multitasking, is one of those pervasive myths of our time. It’s not a state that one can achieve and its makes us miserable in the pursuit of it.
Rather than attempting balance, we should strive for counterbalance.
If you’re focusing on one thing than it’ll just be impossible for you to have your focus elsewhere simultaneously.
And that’s ok.
Instead, we can focus on the one thing. Accomplish the one thing. And then focus on the one thing that is now important.
5 // Re-visit your vision and goals daily
It's easy to lose sight of what we’re working towards. And as soon as the vision is out of sight, energy, motivation, and inspiration wane. Everything just starts to feel harder.
If you can keep your vision and goals front and center, your energy and motivation will naturally stay up. You can more easily note the progress that you’ve made. The vision will become more and more real until it actually is your reality.
6// Expect that you’ll achieve your goal
Positive expectation is one of the best states to be in to actually accomplish what you want.
We all know how powerful gratitude is. Studies and celebrities from Oprah to Mark Zuckerburg wax on about the power of gratitude. But we always want more. It’s part of the human experience that even as we achieve and receive, our desires expand.
I bet if I asked you to write down 25 things you want you could come up with a list pretty quickly.
In fact, why don’t you do that right now.
I’ll wait ;-)
Now, my question is: of those things that you wrote down, how many of them are things you already have?
My guess, is not that many. (But please do let me know if I’m wrong!)
And now you’re saying, “but Crystal, I was just following directions. That’s not what you said to do.”
I know, I know.
It’s a little tricky. But there are many things that you now have that you may be deeply grateful for. But you may not have always had them. At some point it was something you wanted. And now you have it.
And here’s the thing. If I had given that exercise in a slightly different way by asking you to list 25 things you’re grateful for, there’s a good chance that none of the items you listed would be things you don’t yet have.
But we can make the things we want more real, and we can super-charge our gratitude, but conflating the two. Feeling gratitude for the things we desire but don’t yet have. And desiring the things present in our lives.
7 // Be a professional
When we set goals for ourselves it’s almost inevitable that we’ll experience resistance. Resistance is completely natural and experienced by all creators. We don’t need to eradicate resistance. But to create in spite of it.
In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art he describes moving past resistance by turning pro. Being a professional. The ideas is that amateurs given into resistance and professionals don’t. Our creative work need to be treated professionally — not something to be done when we feel like it and not done when we don’t feel like it.
The characteristics of a professional as described by Pressfield are:
We show up every day.
We show up no matter what.
We stay on the job all day.
We are committed over the long haul.
The stakes are high and real.
We accept remuneration for our labor.
We do not over identify with our jobs.
We master the technique of our jobs.
We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
We receive praise or blame in the real world.
Find a way to apply these concepts in a way that serves you.
For example, I’ve adopted a number of habits that help me turn pro. Things like:
Looking at my calendar and planning out my day in advance. Not in a rigid way but just in terms of looking at priorities. Figuring out my one thing for the day. And establishing the other 2 activities I will do IF I accomplish my one thing.
Not checking my emails until after I’ve done my first 2 hours of prioritized activities. I know my weaknesses and it’s just easier if I don’t even go through my phone first thing in the morning.
I get dressed and brush my hair and get myself at least a little presentable. Even though my office is in my home, I feel more ready to work when I’m dressed as if I at least had to go to a co-working space instead of staying in my PJs.
8 // Turn off your phone
If you want reach your goals faster, than turn off your phone. Or at the very least put it on do not disturb and out of sight.
Most millennials are addicted to their phones. In How to Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price addiction is described as,
Continuing to seek out something (for example, drugs or gambling), despite negative consequences. In his book The Brain that Changes Itself, Canadian psychiatrist Norman Doidge explains the general characteristics of addition like this: ‘Addicts show a loss of control of the activity, compulsively seek it out despite negative consequences, develop tolerance so that they need higher and higher levels of stimulation for satisfaction, and experience withdrawal if they can’t consummate the act.” That certainly would seem to describe the way many of us feel about our smartphones. And indeed, many technology companies themselves seem comfortable with that term….many of the same feel-good brain chemicals and reward loops that drive addictions are also released and activated when we check our phones.
And for good reason. Smartphones and the apps on them are designed to hook us in.
Price continues to explain:
Not only are phone and app companies aware of their products; neurological effects, but they pack their products with features that will trigger them — with the explicit goal of getting us to spend as much time and attention as possible on our devices. In industry terms, this is caller “user engagement.” ...In order to maximize the amount of time we spend on our devices, designers manipulate our brain chemistry in ways that are known to trigger addictive behaviors….phones and most apps are deliberately designed without ‘stopping cues’ to alert us when we’ve had enough — which is why it's so easy to accidentally binge. On a certain level, we know what we’re doing makes us feel gross. But instead of stopping, our brains decide the solution is to seek more dopamine. We check our phones again, And again, And again.
Social media, especially become a near impossible tough spiral to hop out of.
Make things easier for yourself. You can’t get much done when you’re looking at your phone all day. Even just quick glances significantly impact our productivity because of context switching.
Context switching just means that our brains take time to switch between tasks. Each time you start to do something else, your brain takes time to adjust to that new task. The more we do it, the longer it takes for our brain to settle back into a productive state. The impact increases the more frequently we switch. You can see this through the chart below. Even when it’s referred to as a project, this can even just be checking your phone.
Each time we take on an additional project we lose another 20% of our time to context switching, This is just loss of time as our brain tries to switch through the various tasks.
This quickly translates to loss of time. If we allow for even just 3 projects (or distractions) in a given hour, our productive minutes are already down to 36. That’s why hours go by and we can’t wrap our minds around how we could have possibly gotten so little done. Although you may have been at or around your desk for 3 hours attempting to work. Between checking your phone for email, a quick scroll through Insta, a few likes on Facebook and your 3 hours of work may have been more like 35 minutes.
This is really just circling back to the point that he more we can focus on the one thing — rather than trying to go back and forth between different activities, the closer we get to accomplishing our goals.
The idea with applying any of these ideas is to start small. You don’t need to implement everything at once but start applying these things little by little. You’ll quickly see how your small shifts turn into massive results.
I’ll be over here cheering for you!