Saturday, May 17, 2008

Goalsetting, or Tips on How Not to Blog

Forgive me readers, for I have sinned. I have broken the cardinal rule of blogging, which is, well, not blogging, or failing to blog. I could say that I've been busy with work (true), or I've had visitors (also true) but the reality is that it's mostly been plain 'ole writer's block (aka perfectionism/procrastination/paralysis). I find a million other things to do instead of putting my thoughts down on “digital paper”. They say we're our own worst critic but sometimes it’s like I have two TV sportscasters (let's call them Frank and Joe) in my head and instead of sports they're giving me instant replays and analysis and commentary on every little thing that I do or don't do. And if I can't do something perfectly, or exactly right, forget it. Drop it. Don't do it at all.

Luckily, since I started working for myself I've learned a few tools for when I get stuck like this (although sometimes it takes a while to get around to them – thanks Katie for nudging me!). First, I fire Frank and Joe (these little rascals tend to sneak back in when I'm not paying attention!). Second, I get out my bag of "tricks". These are little stunts I pull to "fool" my mind into doing things, like telling myself to forget about all the mistakes until the end and just write. Other times I'll need to bring in the big guns (multiple calls to my action partner). Setting a deadline or a specific date for me to post on my blog has also helped (not always). But every week it's like I'm starting from scratch. The pen feels like it weighs 800 pounds. The computer is covered in kryptonite, and I’m Superman.

When it comes to my business, the same thing happens. There are tasks that feel so easy to do (playing around with pictures and colors and fonts for my new, soon-to-be-released logo; web surfing in the name of "market research", checking email every 5 seconds) while others are frightening (usually the ones that lead to actually generating income, like making a list of target clients and writing marketing proposals). If I put things off long enough the anxiety will slowly rise, until all I want to do is run for the hills, or hide under the covers with a gallon of cookie dough ice cream. I could do that. But a better option is to break down my scary projects into small, manageable tasks and put each one in some sort of time line.

So for my blogging, I could break each post down into parts and give myself a deadline for each. And then put it all in my Outlook Calendar:
1-make a list of 3 possible topics (Monday)
2-research them to see which one works best (Tuesday)
3-make an outline of what the blog post will be about (Wednesday)
4-write the damn thing! (Thursday)
5-edit, and let it rip (Friday)

As I read this I'm already judging it, saying "oh no, it shouldn't take me that long!" And maybe it won't, but at least I have a little system in place to get me started.

The truth is, no one single tool works best. I need to have a number of systems in place. I need a lot of support, and I don't like doing things by myself. Which was the thinking behind the new Dream Project Intensive workshops I launched last month (see pictures). I wanted to offer support to other entrepreneurs that were suffering like me by forming a group that would make its members accountable for the tasks they wanted to accomplish. At the first one there were 9 people sharing their ideas for a business, and it was a total blast. So I decided to do a follow-up last week focused on setting goals then breaking them down into actions. This is no easy task, mostly because in our head we see things more complicated than they really are. So when someone got stuck during the meeting, the group came up with a slew of possibilities and suggestions, or simply asked additional questions to get more clarity around it.

We also used what I call the back-tracking method: we started out with the end goal and then backtracked from there, thinking about the steps we would need to take just before that, and then the ones just before that, and so on until we get to the present. It worked! Everyone ended up with a short list of actions to take until we meet again in a month.

Not to be left behind, I set some goals for this month as well. One of them is (you guessed it) to faithfully post at least one entry on my blog per week. Wish me luck!

Do you have a trick you use to get past perfectionism/procrastination/paralysis? Please share it!


Social Network Web Design said...

Once in a while I think every blogger goes thru this phase..the procrastination and laziness to blog. :)

Katie (Entrepreneur Goddess dot com) said...

I'm always glad to give a nudge to get you into the swing of things. I'm sure it happens to every single blogger. It has happened to me several times. I've found that being a blogger has taught me a lot about discipline and consistency. There are days and even some weeks when I just don't feel like blogging but I know I have to JUST DO IT. Or, there's a technical glitch somewhere and you put it off and put it off. It always helps to know you have fans and people waiting for your posts. I check your blog regularly and always enjoy your content. Keep up the good work!