Do you know exactly what you need to do but still manage not to do it?

Does something always happen to stop you from doing what you need to do?

Work Smart Not Hard Tip No. 25 in a series written for Indie Cambs.

I sacked a client last week.

We’d spent a year working together. We worked out his goals and created a plan to get him from where he was starting from to where he wanted to get to.

So far, so good.

Then we came to the part where he needed to take action.

Each week we agreed on what actions he needed to take (nothing very difficult, all well within his capabilities) and each week “something happened” that prevented him from doing the things we’d agreed he would do. We talked about it, but when the same excuses came around again and again I decided that he had a problem that I couldn’t help him with.

So with a great deal of love and support in other ways, we stopped our weekly calls.

Talking this through with a group of other business owners, it ‘s clear that some people could run a masterclass in procrastination and avoidance of doing things they tell themselves they really want to do but actually don’t.

Some of it comes down to fear of failure (and fear of success) and some of it is fear of what other people will think. Putting off boring jobs or jobs you just don’t like doing is understandable and can be dealt with by delegation or outsourcing but putting off the things that are fundamental to earning money …? That’s a whole other can of worms.

We heard stories of people who would re-arrange their office, sharpen all their pencils, spend hours journaling, update their Trello boards, prepare newsletters, check for updates on their website, make a list of family and friends birthdays, catalogue their books by author then re-catalogue them by topic (arranging by colour or size is a very different issue!), update their CRM (but not make any calls), even deciding on a new colour scheme for the office and, in one case, re-painting it! All to avoid doing the one thing that would make a big difference to creating revenue.

If you find yourself substituting non-urgent and non-important tasks for the really important ones there’s usually a feeling of discomfort at the bottom of it. Several coaches I know suggest that examining the discomfort is the key to overcoming it, but most say that if it’s not something that will harm you, feeling uncomfortable is OK and something that will get easier if you work with it. Avoiding it will likely make it worse.

Working smart is an exercise in logic and humans are not logical creatures so we can’t just dismiss our feelings, but we can work with them to make sure they don’t become a barrier to achieving our goals.

If you find yourself always avoiding doing the things that you know you “can” do or “could” do and this is more than a business problem, I know some very skilled coaches and therapists who can help in ways that I can’t. Let me know if you’d like any introductions.

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