Recall the post earlier this month, about the difference between ambition and a pipe dream? I mentioned SOGOTP syndrome (that’d be “shit or get off the pot”) – that thing we do sometimes where we talk about an idea, potentially an amazing idea (our eyes light up when they talk about it, our enthusiasm is infectious) that’ll not only help clients, but move our business forward & make some sweet moolah in the process. But, instead of starting on it, we just…let it sit. Indefinitely.
Obviously, this is not okay with me. Taking an idea and turning it into a concrete reality – or watching someone else do the same – is something I find incredible every time it happens, and the thought of all these amazing product/service/business ideas just sitting around drives me up the wall. And when I talk to people suffering from SOGOTP syndrome, they aren’t usually wildly happy about their idea going unused either – but the fact remains that they just can’t seem to get started.
These blocks to getting started usually fall into one of three categories: psychological reasons, busy-ness, or logistical reasons.
Unsurprisingly, this is where a lot of people run into issues. They’re afraid of starting. Or they’re afraid of finishing. They’re afraid of failure or they’re afraid of wild success. Often, without you even realizing it, your lizard brain will manage to attach itself to some ridiculous fear that then sits in the back of your mind, looming over the brilliant idea and dulling it.
The first thing to do if you think this might be an issue is what I call the “two year old technique”, for reasons that will soon become very clear. You can either have a friend help you out with this or journal it out by yourself. Simply sit down and ask yourself (or have your friend ask you) why you haven’t started this yet. To every answer you give, the reply is “Why?”
Example: “Why haven’t you started working on this idea yet?” “Well, I’m not sure how it’d be received.” “Why?” “Because I’ve never done anything like this before.” “Why does that bother you?” “I don’t want to be a laughingstock – what if other people think it’s stupid?” Bingo.
Simple? Yes. Surprisingly effective? Yes.
Oftentimes, just naming these fears will make us realize how silly they are. But, you know what, sometimes putting yourself out there is just plain scary. In which case, the antidote is excitement.
This idea must excite you or you wouldn’t want to work on it, right? (If this idea doesn’t excite you, let someone else do it and find one that does. Life is too short not to work on exciting things, y’all.) Figure out why it excites you. Why is the end result going to be so awesome? Is it going to boost your credibility? Or connect you with more people who need what you do? Will it help people while giving them a juicy taste of what it’s like to work with you (thus, bringing you more clients)?
When you actively work on figuring out and articulating why this idea excites you so much, you can use that to motivate you through your fears or worries. Whenever you start to doubt, return to your motivations and remember why you’re working on this idea in the first place.
“I’m too busy” and/or overwhelm
“Busy” is the new black. Especially with solopreneurs & entrepreneurs, we tend to wear our “busy-ness” as a badge – a sign of “Oh, I must be doing well, look how busy I am! See?!” (I’ve got more on why you’re not “too busy” here.)
Now, I’m not saying you aren’t busy. Running a business is hard work. But even the busiest people can and do make room for new projects on a regular basis. If they can do it, so can you.
On the flip side is the fact that often, “busy-ness” is a state of mind and not an actual reality. If you’re booking more appointments than you really should be, not leaving any breathing room for anything else, or working on “busy work” (you know – things that make you feel like you got something done but do jack-all for real-world results), then this might be the case with you. Raise your prices. Re-think how many appointments you can realistically do per week – set a limit and then stick to it. Keep track of what you actually do on a day-to-day basis to figure out what you’re doing for busy work or what’s sucking up your time – social media is important, but spending 3 hours a day on Facebook or Twitter isn’t.
Overwhelm is the evil twin of busy-ness. But if busy-ness is often a state of mind, overwhelm always is – I like to say that if anxiety is caused by living in the future, overwhelm is caused by living in the future of your project. When you’re overwhelmed, you’re worrying about things that aren’t even a factor in reality yet. (More on overwhelm, from the fabulous Danielle LaPorte.)
Instead of being overwhelmed, be prepared. Know what needs to happen in the future – have a plan – but instead of thinking about what you’re going to do in the future, think about what you’re going to do right now and what you’re going to do next. Period.
You’d be surprised, but more often than not, sitting on an idea has much more to do with the first two obstacles than with this one. You’d think that logistical reasons would be at the top, but I often find after talking with someone, that they’re actually at the bottom.
However, when they do come up, these obstacles can still be a big pain in the ass. And so, here’s three ways to nip ’em in the bud:
- Bring the idea down to earth. Here’s what I mean by that: figure out what the essence of the idea is, and then find a way to recreate that essence on a smaller scale. For example, let’s say you have this some-day vision of putting on a large-scale health & wellness conference. People will come to speak about exercise, food, nutrition, and all sorts of other yummy topics. Instead of just letting it sit on the “someday” backburner, you can turn that idea into a webinar series with guest speakers, and sell the finished recordings as a bundle. Or, if you want to put on a retreat, do a digital one first – you’d be surprised what you can do with technology nowadays. At an event that I co-hosted at the beginning of this year, we had a yoga teacher lead everyone through a live session using streaming video. Think about how you can honor the core of this idea with the tools + resources you have on hand right now.
- Brain clean & pick step #1. Write down everything you can think of that you’ll need to do to complete this idea. Every single step. Often, we don’t know where to start with our ideas, but that’s because we haven’t really thought about it. Once you have your task list, a starting point will usually stand out – one thing that has to come before everything else. No single starting point stands out? Then start anywhere. All too often, we paralyze ourselves with choice when it’s not the choice that matters, it’s taking action.
- If you don’t know where to start, ask someone who does. Find someone who’s done something similar to what you want to do, and ask them how they got started. Of course, you’ll want to be respectful of their time and energy – and requesting a lengthy, detailed email isn’t. Say something like “I really like what you did with (project x). I’m working on something similar and I’m having a hard time getting started. Can you tell me what you did first to kick things off?” Don’t ask for an outline of everything they did, just what they did first. People are often perfectly willing to share useful tips.
And there you have it! The three main problems that crop up, and how you can defeat them.
So…tell me now; what idea have you been sitting on? And what are you going to do today to start turning it into a reality?
Photo credit: Namelas Frade