Most twelve-step programs define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. Those credit cards that have barely budged during the last few years while you have been “getting out of debt” are a sure sign that your plan is not working. Since we just identified your problem, why do you keep doing the same things while expecting to be debt free? It will not work.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
How long will you persist and not make any progress? Is your spouse still on board with your plans, or have they completely forgotten about them? Are you going to keep wallowing around, or is today the day you have decided to ACT?
You must first of all ask yourself “What is my plan?” If you draw a blank after asking that question that’s great; we have likely just found the reason you are stuck. Antoine de Saint-Exupery said long ago that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Your time is valuable. Treat it as such and plan for action.
Next you must ask yourself why your plan has not worked. Specifically, is there something missing, or have you simply failed to start. It is very easy to get hung up in any stage of a plan, but especially at the beginning. Many times you just need to begin and the rest will fall into place. Do not worry if you everything does not fit nicely into your plan. If you want it bad enough you will quickly overcome most any obstacle with hard work and determination.
Do you have someone in your cheering section; possibly a good friend or better yet, your spouse? Accountability is the hidden ingredient behind Weight Watchers and is the best way I know to get out of debt. Many of my clients come to me because they need accountability, regardless of whether or not they are married.
Take a look at why your plan is not working and then readjust for action!
I did the same thing while I got my practice off the ground. It can be tough to prioritize and manage every aspect of the business while still leaving time for family, friends and other activities.
Are you struggling with this area? What are some of the ideas you’ve put in place to make sure you stay focused while still giving time in these other important areas?
Here are some of mine:
- My wife and I sat down and took a realistic look at what would be required to get this going. As a captain with a large national airline, I wasn’t working in my passion. We determined that it would likely take 1.5 years of sacrifice to grow the business while remaining full time. During that time we limited our functions (and our family time) in order to focus on what needed to be done. I’m all for putting family first, but unless we could grow quickly, my wife and I knew it wouldn’t be effective. So we sacrificed for 18 months and I’ll tell you, it was more than worth it. Often, I only had 1 day off per week, but I safeguarded it above everything else.
- Prioritize. What do you really need to spend your time doing? What is the most important thing in your business right now? What is number two? Do them in that order.
- Don’t spend time hanging around the water cooler. Remain effective in your current job so you can finish your work early. If you have the ability, focus on growing your business with your new found time. Or work on it over your lunch break. Do whatever you can to focus and limit your time in the transition.
- Surround yourself with others that can help you grow your business. My biggest supporter was my wife (and still is). You need people in your life that will give you encouragement and provide you with honest feedback.
What are your ideas?
Doing too many tasks on your own instead of hiring or outsourcing.
Many small business owners are eager to jump into their business and do everything from the start. That’s a great attitude to have but I think you’ll quickly find that you will be overcome with what Michael Gerber calls working in the business rather than on the business. There is a very important distinction to be made here.
Working in the business means paying bills, handling payroll, finding the best deals on internet and phone service and making sure the fax machine you have is still the best fit for you.
Working on the business means doing the sort of things that actually pay the bills (including payroll) and make you happy. This is the reason you started your business, is it not?
Grab a notepad right now and list out the things that make up your business day. Put down everything, even if you’re not working in your business full-time yet. You have to design business cards, handle website maintenance and, oh yeah, actually talk with your customers.
Begin investigating what it would take to outsource some of the tasks of your business in order to both free up your time and increase your business revenues.
Not defining your target market.
“You mean I can’t work with just anyone?”
I get this question a lot. Why would I intentionally shut certain people out of my business if my services are for everyone?
Most people in North America are in debt and manage their money poorly. I can help almost anyone improve their relationship with their spouse and manage their money better, but if I market to everyone, essentially I reach no one.
I met a financial planner recently who targets successful women and their families. At first glance he just shut out about half of the country by not targeting men. And then he defined his market as successful women. Talk about a great niche!
But just because you designate a specific niche doesn’t mean you can’t work with other types of clients. My friend will work with just about anyone that comes to him. As he markets his business however, he is able to fine-tune and specify exactly the kind of clients he’s looking for and go directly to the source to find them.
The more focused you are, the more bang for your buck that you get when it comes to marketing.
Auto dealers do this exact same thing. The Honda dealer would love to work on your Accord. You’ll pay a lot more than at the shop down the street. There is some implied reasoning that the Honda dealer will do a better job, although some could argue that. Even though the mechanics at Honda can fix your Accord, they will also fix your Ford or GM. But you’ll never see that in their marketing.
Teaching or helping your client with a task that you’re unqualified to teach.
I would never hire a coach to help me reach a place they have never been. In my practice I think it’s even unethical to work with a client that wants to go somewhere I have never been. I point those people in another direction where they will get the service they need.
Nothing prepares you to help others better than having lived something out in your own life. As I always say, find someone at the level you want to be at and learn from them.
Would you take financial advice from someone who has been broke all of their life and never seems to be able to get it together? What about weight-loss advice from your friend who never leaves the couch and weighs 300 pounds? Not a chance!
I don’t want investment advice from someone fresh out of school with no money in the market. I am sure they have a certain amount of perspective they can add to to my investments, but I want the best, and I’m willing to pay for it.
For the same reason, if your business is a marriage counselor, but you have been married three times, I am guessing you are not making much money. If you offer auto repair but you have to constantly bum rides to work because your car is on blocks, there is a problem.
Find something you have experience in and excel at doing. Can you shape a business around that? I promise you the money will be there.
Goals often begin for most people as dreams. They envision themselves forty pounds lighter, one million dollars richer, or the envy of everyone in their neighborhood because their driveway has the newest car in it.
Progressing from the dream stage, goals often progress to New Year’s resolutions. Health clubs see their biggest influx of new members during this time of year, but most fizzle out around the 2-month mark. What is interesting is that many times these same gym goers still maintain their memberships, thinking they may still show up when the time becomes right. It never becomes right.
New Year’s is a time to pursue dreams previously unattained. Swimsuit season is approaching and “this is they year I will not feel like an outcast on the beach.” New Year’s resolutions rarely come to fruition because of one major downfall… they are not written down.
When you physically write your plans on an old fashioned piece of paper they can be converted into goals. The left and right sides of your brain get to connect when you physically write. The two independent A and B sides are finally aware of what the other is thinking.
You have a much higher probability of reaching your dreams when you convert them to goals and put them in writing, but many times it still doesn’t happen. Why not? One word… intention.
Intention separates those who do and those who only want to do. Intention begins with written goals and puts action behind them. If you want to make an extra $30,000 next year, make it a goal. $30,000 equals $2,500 additional income per month or $600 per week.
Next, state your intentions. What do you need to do to make an extra $600 per week? You might have to deliver pizzas four or five nights per week. If you are in sales that might involve getting in front of four more prospective clients each month of the year. The point is that you need a plan.
Writing your goals on paper is a good start, but it will only get you so far. If you want to reach your dreams, you must develop a plan.
Visit www.lukascoaching.com/resources.htm to download the same goals worksheet that Christine and I follow every year.