“I just need to double down and work harder this year.”
This may seem like a perfectly reasonable thing to say, especially if you’re feeling frustrated about:
- how little you got done last year in your business
- the sheer number of projects you started and didn’t finish
- the lack of progress you made overall
It’s only natural that you’d want this year to be better.
And it would be very easy to see these types of challenges as productivity issues.
Perhaps you’ve already committed to make better use of your time (with a new agenda, or a course in time-blocking.)
Or you’ve put your foot down, said, “By golly – this is the year I get organized!” and got yourself a Trello account (or dusted off the one you already have but forgot about – whoops!)
Maybe you started the year out strong, with such high hopes for a fresh start. But you can feel yourself wobbling a little bit because there’s so much you want to do but you don’t know where to start. Which has set you off down the rabbit hole of other productivity hacks.
While I do appreciate a new agenda, the idea of being more organized, and the book Essentialism, when it comes to the challenges I’ve outlined above, these kinds of productivity solutions don’t address the real issues at play. They are merely temporary fixes to surface-level problems. In reality, there are deeper problems to tackle if you are to truly accomplish the kind of progress you want to make this coming year.
And to double down and work harder will only make things worse.
What’s really going on
Let’s tackle each of the scenarios I mentioned above one at a time. I’ll show you what’s really going on and share why doubling down won’t help.
1 ⎟You didn’t get much done last year
You might be a “floater.” In the world of a floater, days or weeks (and in extreme cases, even months) can go by without you attending to the most important tasks in your business (looking for leads, marketing and selling what you have to offer, tracking your finances, etc.) You may think that you’re actually working on your business – you’re on social media, replying to emails, learning the greatest and latest marketing technique. Heck – you may even be busy creating new content or offers. Plus, your desk and all your files are very organized.
I spent the first couple of years in business floating a long. And truth be told, it feels like you’re being productive – you’re just focused on the wrong priorities.
If you think about it, you’re running your business in a very reactionary way. And that’s hard to maintain without consequences.
The deeper problem here lies in the fact that you’re not grounding your actions in any sort of vision for yourself. You’re floating along because you’re missing an incredibly important element – something tangible that can guide you to take what I call focused, purposeful actions. You can think of it as your North Star.
It’s also possible that in doing all your busy work, you’ve become disconnected from your purpose and your vision for your life and business. Or, your business doesn’t sync up very well with that vision you have for yourself. So you find ways to avoid it, while still doing enough so you can say you have a business.
It’s important to note here that “floating along” is not the same thing as “creating flow” in your business. When things flow, it’s because you have a strong sense of purpose and you’re being yourself. You cause flow to happen by making choices that are aligned with who you are and how you work best. Floating, in its own unique way, actually blocks your flow.
The antidote of floating is not to double down and work harder, because you’ll only end up doubling down on the wrong things. You’ll just find more ways to be busy. Sigh.
2 ⎮ You started a LOT of projects but didn’t finish many – or any
While bright, shiny objects may certainly play a role here, it’s more likely that you’ve over-estimated how much time you have to work on projects. Or, you under-estimated how much time they’d each take to complete. Or both.
Ideas are wonderful, aren’t they? For the most part, it doesn’t take much time or effort to come up with them. Turning them into reality though? It’s a whole other story.
Your ambitiousness may have got the better of you last year. Not only that, it’s entirely possible that you skipped one, two, or all of these important steps:
1) creating a list of possible projects and then prioritizing them according to your Business Vision – specifically your Long and Short Term Goals
3) checking in to make sure that what you want to tackle is reasonable given the time, energy and money you have to spend on them
Your ambition, combined with any of these skipped steps likely left you too tired and depleted to finish what you started.
Which is exactly why it’s not a good idea to double down and work harder this year. Chances are you haven’t replenished your energy from all of last year’s efforts. Kicking it up a notch now will only mean you’ll run out of steam and have to abandon your projects again this year – maybe sooner than later.
3 ⎮ You didn’t make as much progress as you hoped
I know it’s frustrating when have so much to offer the world yet you don’t seem to ever make as much progress as you’d like in – and on – your business. But here’s the thing. Productivity doesn’t necessarily equal progress, as we’ve already established in Scenario 1. You can be absolutely be productive and not make the kind progress you want.
So what’s the key to progress, then? There’s actually three parts of the progress “equation.”
Progress = A Clearly Defined Outcome + A Simple Plan + Focused, Purposeful Action
1) Progress happens when you have a clearly defined outcome in mind. Preferably one that’s strategic, meaning it’s connected to something bigger you want to accomplish, like your business vision.
2) To make progress on that clearly defined, strategically chosen outcome, you need a plan to make it happen. One that’s simple and easy to implement.
3) And finally, you need to take action on that plan. Of course, as I mentioned before, I’m an advocate of focused, purposeful action.
With that equation in mind, there’s all kinds of reasons your progress was held up or stymied altogether last year.
If you had a clearly defined outcome and started taking action on it without a plan, chances are you got distracted and had a hard time getting back on track. You didn’t necessarily choose the most direct path to your outcome either.
Made a plan and started taking action without a clearly defined outcome? You’d have wasted your time, energy and money going in the wrong direction.
Put together a plan for your clearly defined outcome and didn’t implement it? It’s really hard to make progress if you don’t take action.
If your plan was too complicated, you likely gave up somewhere along the way before you finished.
Double down and work harder on planning this year and you’ll be doubly disappointed at the end of the year when you still aren’t where you want to be in your business. Or, you could make double the plans that you don’t follow through on – also frustrating.
Get more intense on taking action and you’ll end up spinning your wheels because you don’t have a clear direction in which to channel that energy.
If the answer isn’t to double down and work harder, then what is it?
In as few words as possible, the answer is: create a simple and sustainable marketing plan for your year.
You may wonder how a marketing plan will solve the kinds of problems I’ve covered here today.
I get it.
Because when most business coaches and marketing strategists tell you to create a marketing plan for your year, they’re usually suggesting that you pull out a calendar and plot out your program and product launches. They expect you to make some kind of a chart to organize your content and social media posts.
But I’m not like most business coaches and marketing strategists. And that’s not the kind of marketing plan I mean.
Read on if you’d like to know how a marketing plan, done well, can fuel your progress for your year .
CREATE A SIMPLE + SUSTAINABLE MARKETING PLAN FOR 2021
Set yourself up to take focused, purposeful action this year with a tailored-to-you-and-your-business marketing plan – that’s easy to implement.
・a private coaching experience・