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How to conquer fear

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Fear is a bitch. It stops you from doing things you need to do and things you want to do and it makes things you do more difficult.

I’m not talking about big scary stop-in-your-tracks kind of fear. They don’t crop up that often and when they do, it’s often better to give in to them. If you’re afraid of sky-diving, for example, don’t do it. Do something else on your bucket list.

No, I’m talking about micro-fears, little nagging worries that make you avoid situations or people, doubt your process, procrastinate, abandon half-finished projects, or move so slowly that you miss the opportunity.

You may not see what these fears do to you because they are small and familiar but they add up and make for a poorer quality of life.

What can you do?

You can do more research. You can delegate the task. You can do something else that makes the original task unnecessary or easier. Or you can get someone to do “it” with you–yep, hold your hand as you take your first steps.

I’ve done all of these at various times in my life. I’m sure you have, too.

But there’s something else we can do to defeat our fears or to get the thing done despite them.

Do it anyway.

Dale Carnegie said, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

Easier said than done? Maybe. But here’s something that can make it easier.

It’s called “the five-minute rule”. Whatever it is that you’re avoiding, do it for just five minutes.

You can do just about anything for five minutes. When you do, you will have done the hard part–you got started, and getting started is the antidote for what ails you.

How to get better at delegating

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Regrets, I’ve had a few

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I’ve messed things up more times than I can remember. Failed business ventures, bad investments, lost cases and clients, lost friendships. I think about these from time to time but I don’t dwell on them because while you can learn from the past, you can’t change it.

I’ve heard that most people think about their past 3 times more often than their future. That’s a waste of time.

Instead, I try to focus on the future. The projects I’m working on, the things I want to accomplish, where I’m going instead of where I’ve been. I get ideas and inspiration from the future I plan to create and the impetus to move forward.

You may wonder why I don’t focus on the present. Why don’t I get my “zen” on?

Because if things aren’t going well presently, what good would it be to think about that? Feel bad about my mistakes or shortcomings? Beat myself up for letting it happen?

Nope.

There’s no value in feeling guilty about your past or your present. Besides, the present is only a moment away from being the past and you have to let that go.

If things are going well, I acknowledge this and enjoy the moment, but no matter how good things are they can always be better and that (in the future) is where I put my attention.

Let go of the past and the present. You can’t change them, you can only change your future.

See you there.

Here’s the formula for creating a better future

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You don’t know what you don’t know

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There are things you know, things you don’t know, and things you don’t know you don’t know.

Think about your practice. You know how to draft a document or pleading, you know how to introduce yourself to a fellow professional and tell them what you do, you know how to talk to clients about referrals.

And if you don’t know these things, you know you should. Not knowing presents you with the opportunity to learn and grow.

“Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” – Sara Blakely

The things you don’t know you’re missing may present your greatest opportunity for growth. That’s why it’s important to continually learn, to study what others have said and done. One idea, one better method, could change everything.

But there’s another benefit to not knowing what you don’t know, although you might not always see it that way.

Not knowing about all of the risks and potential problems that might occur when you take action might be the very thing that allows you to take that action. If you knew everything that could go wrong, you might stop in your tracks.

Is ignorance bliss? Sometimes. Probably more than we know.

Get paid more, get paid faster. Get the check

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Sometimes, you’ve got to break the chain

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Routines are a good thing. You always know what you’re going to do and by doing it regularly, you get good at it.

Exercise, taking your vitamins, drinking water–check. Reviewing your todo list and calendar in the evening to prepare for the following day–check. Opening a file, preparing a pleading, posting to your blog–all made easier because your routine helps you do them without a lot of extra thought or effort.

I have an app I use to record my daily walks. I check off the days I’ve done them (and record my steps in another app), because I don’t want to break the chain. (Search: “Seinfeld, don’t break the chain” if you’re not familiar with the concept.)

Last week it was hotter than Hades. Even early in the morning. I missed a day’s walk. Then I missed another.

I broke the friggin chain! (Don’t worry, I started a new one. All is well.)

I’m walking earlier now. BC (before coffee) if you can believe it. I see a different crowd of walkers, runners, and dogs, the light is different, it’s quieter, and I get my walk done early. I seem to have more day.

It’s too soon to tell for certain but walking earlier may be a game changer for me. I probably wouldn’t have done it if the weather hadn’t forced me to.

Anyway, I got to thinking that sometimes, we should intentionally change our routines. Just for the hell of it. A new routine provides fresh stimuli for our brain. It can lead to ideas and improvements. It keeps things fresh.

I’ve never been a morning person. Never started my day without coffee. If I can do this, who knows what I can accomplish.

Do you know any professionals? Here’s how to get them to send you business

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Too smart for my own damn self

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I’ve been working on a project for a long time. A very long time. Longer than I should.

It’s been that way because I nitpick. I ask too many questions, I consider too many options, and I worry about too many things that could go wrong.

I see others who have done what I want to do who don’t suffer from my affliction. I’m stuck in the planning stage while they’re off doing it. They might make mistakes but they recover and carry on. Me? No mistakes, but no results, either.

Does any of this sound familiar? Do you have projects that aren’t getting done because you’re still researching or planning? Are you too smart for your own good?

Sure, when you and I finally get around to doing things we do them well. We’re smart and we execute well. We just don’t execute enough.

Years ago, I took three years to create and publish my first marketing course. It was great but I wonder if I could have finished it in a few months instead of a few years.

I think I need to dumb things down. Think less and do more. Get something done and get it out into the world.

Notice I said “something”. Not everything. Not the whole enchilada. Just enough to get some results or feedback, to let me know if I’m on the right track.

How does one do that? By breaking the project into components and then setting an impossible deadline for the first one. Don’t give yourself a year, give yourself a month.

Maybe you ask yourself, “What would [someone we know or know of] do?” or “What would I do if I only had six months to live?”

Anyway, if you’re like me, I feel ya. Just wanted to let you know.

Here’s all the planning you need for marketing your services

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Remain calm and carry on

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Bad stuff happens. That’s actually a good thing because without the bad there can be no good.

Embrace the bad!

Okay, maybe not embrace it. Acknowledge it and let it go. Because if you don’t, you’ll just make things worse.

“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”

― Voltaire

How do we quickly pass through our misfortunes?

Here are some (positive) options:

  1. Ignore it. Many problems, perhaps most, have a tendency to resolve themselves. Put the problem in the closet and get on with other things.
  2. Distract yourself. If the problem really bothers you, occupy yourself with a new project or something you love to do. Remain calm, carry on, and let your subconscious mind find a solution.
  3. Do something. Try anything. If it doesn’t work, try something else. You may not solve the problem but you’ll feel like you’re doing something, which is better than feeling helpless.
  4. Get help. Share the problem with someone who knows something about the issue and can offer advice or assistance. Or share it with someone who’s a good listener and can help you think things through.
  5. Write a check. If you can throw money at the problem and fix it or lessen the impact, bite the bullet and do it. It’s only money.
  6. Surrender. Let the problem do what it’s going to do. The pain will pass.

Worry is useless. It can only make things worse. So don’t go there.

Blame is useless. If it was your fault, accept it, without rancor or guilt. If it was someone else’s fault, learn something from the experience and move on.

Complaining is useless. And annoying to everyone within earshot.

Resistance is useless. The more you fight the problem the bigger its hold on you. Do something or let go and take your medicine.

Count your blessings. No matter how bad the problem, if you’re not dying, you have a lot to be thankful for.

The formula for getting more clients

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Ripping the bandage off slowly

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What do you do when you have to do something you don’t want to do?

We’ve been taught to rip the bandage off quickly and get it over with. The pain will only last for a moment. Pulling it off slowly is worse.

That’s usually good advice. But not always.

I’ve started a project I’ve been putting off for years. I’m getting rid of books in my home office, closet, garage, and at our storage facility. I hate it. I love my books. But it has to be done.

Thinking about carting off my prized possessions to the library bookstore in one fell swoop has caused me to avoid doing it. But I’ve kept that particular bandage on my finger for too long.

But, rather than doing it all at once (and getting it over with), I’m doing it slowly. In stages.

The first pass was easy. I removed books that are outdated–old software manuals, for example, books related to business ventures I’m no longer involved with, and books I’ve never read and know I’m never going to.

Second pass (which I haven’t started yet) will be to pare down what’s left. This won’t be too difficult because I will know I don’t yet have to make the hard decisions.

The third pass will be tougher. I plan to remind myself that, “If I ever need or want this book, I can buy it again.”

How many books will I keep? That will depend on how much room I have left on my shelves. I’m committed: No more boxes, no more garage, no more storage.

I’ll get it done. I have to. Tripping over books, dusting books I haven’t looked at in years, storing books I used for projects 20 years ago, just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Anyway, I thought I’d pass this along to you in case you’re a book lover and need to make room somewhere (maybe for new books!), or in case you have anything else you need to do but don’t want to.

Instead of waiting for referrals to happen, make them happen

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Maybe you need a babysitter

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After yesterday’s post about scheduling time to do things you’re not getting done, (in this case, reading time), a subscriber wrote: “I’ve TRIED something like this many times, but I always just ignore the scheduled thing. Any tips for getting my ass to stick to the schedule? It’s quite frustrating.”

My advice: “Don’t ignore the scheduled thing.”

I’m serious. Annoying, but serious.

We all make choices about what we will and won’t do. If we choose not to do something, even though it’s good for us and we say we want to do it, even though we put it on our calendar, the truth is we really DON’T want to do it.

Because if you wanted to do it, you would.

So, remove it from your calendar or agenda until you want to do it. Or until you decide you must do it.

Here’s what I mean.

If we consider all of our tasks and projects, ideas and someday/maybes, read/reviews, we can break them down into three categories: Must-do, Should-do, and Could-do.

We do a good job of getting our must-dos done because penalties ensue if we don’t. So how about creating a new list or tag for “must-read/review” and scheduling time just for this?

Everything else? I say, don’t worry about it.

If it’s not something you must read or review, read it if you want to and don’t if you don’t. And don’t beat yourself up about what you don’t read.

What about “should-read/review”? I think it’s overkill for discretionary reading, but it’s up to you.

Okay, a couple more ideas for “forcing” yourself to stick to your schedule. Here are two taken from the Kanban world:

  1. Limit your work in process (WIP). In the case of reading, limit yourself to three articles (for example). If you finish those and have room for more, you can go get more. If you don’t, move on. If three is too many, start with one or two.
  2. Make it visible. Put your reading list/folder on your desktop or as a top-level bullet or tag in your master list or a column (or swim lane) in your Kanban. By keeping your list in front of you, you’ll continually be reminded that this is something you’ve decided to do and you’ll be one click away from doing it.

Okay, one more: Get a babysitter.

Still serious.

Designate someone to hold you accountable for whatever it is you’re resisting. It could be your spouse, your secretary, your partner, a colleague, or anyone else. Have them check in with you to find out if you did or didn’t do what you said you would. Implement some kind of penalty if you don’t and maybe a reward if you do.

If you designate your secretary for this role, for example, and you don’t do your daily reading or marketing or whatever, they get to take the rest of the day off.

Something tells me stuff is gonna get done.

Update your website

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The tyranny of the urgent

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What’s the most important thing in your professional life that you’re not doing? Or doing enough?

Something that can take your practice to a much higher level. Help you accomplish a major goal or change your life in a significant way.

Whatever it is, you’re probably not doing it because while it’s important, it’s not urgent and your day is filled with urgent matters that get first call.

Deadlines, due dates, promises made to clients that have to get done on time. Or problems that need to be addressed today, lest they lead to even bigger problems tomorrow.

There are many things you can do to “find more time” for important work but in my experience, nothing more effective than blocking out time for it on your calendar.

How much time? Probably not as much as you think.

You can make appreciable progress on a project if you work on it for as little as five or ten minutes a day. The key is to do it every day.

Pick a number of minutes. I suggest 15. If that’s too much, start with ten.

Schedule time on your calendar for that project, five days a week. If possible, make this your first task of the day. Get it done before you start your other work when your energy is highest and distractions and interruptions are likely to be fewer.

Get it done first and then no matter what else happens that day, your day will have been fruitful.

Make it a habit. A part of your daily ritual. Try it for two months and see what happens. I think you’ll like what happens.

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The power of a daily habit

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When I began walking for exercise I usually walked three days a week. Some days, I didn’t feel like it and had to force myself out the door. Some days I simply forgot.

Now I walk six days a week and I do it without thinking about it.

My walks are longer, because I’ve built up my strength, and I enjoy them. Not only are they good for my health, I use the time for thinking, dictating, or listening to podcasts.

Because I walk every day, I don’t have to be reminded to do it or talk myself into it. It’s part of my routine. And I (usually) look forward to it.

I had a similar experience when I started writing a daily email/blog post. Before I wrote daily, I wrote once a week. It was easy to do but what’s easy to do is also easy to not do. Miss a day and it could easily turn into a week. Before you know it, a month has gone by and you’re on your way to not doing it anymore.

Am I saying it’s easier to write every day instead of once a week? Yes.

If you write a newsletter, blog post, or article once a month or once a week you have to plan for it. When the day comes, it’s easy to postpone it. “Hey, I’ve got the whole month”. But do you? Without a deadline, it’s easy to blow it off.

If you write once a week, or every day, it becomes a natural part of your workflow.

So, write shorter pieces but more often. Make it a habit and you’ll get it done.

Whatever it is you’re thinking of doing, whatever habit you want to create, start where you need to start but look for a way to transition to doing it every day. Because every day really is easier.

Are you getting daily referrals

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