How do you eat an elephant…?

How do you eat an elephant…?

March is upon us and the first quarter of 2013 is almost over.

How are you getting on with those goals you made for yourself or your business at the top of the year?

If you’re on track and all is well that’s great, but sadly, most of us (and you might know some individuals who fit the bill) fall far short of our new year’s resolutions and goals. But why? In my experience procrastination is a key issue many of us struggle with year after year.

They say, the best way to get something done is to make a start, simple right? So why is it that for so many of us we just can’t get around to working on that business idea we’ve been talking about for so long?

I met bumped into an old friend who I hadn’t seen for about 7 years on the London Underground. So the ceremony begins where you try to summarise in 1 minute what you’ve done in almost a decade. I remembered he was always on about starting a business online selling computer parts which he’d got dirt cheap from China. It was going to be his ticket out of the nine to five hum drum he hated. I told him I’d been running my business for some time now and it’s had its ups and downs but I’m still here smiling.

He went on to tell me that he could never get round to getting his business online and was working in the same company 9-5pm. Now 7 years is a long time to procrastinate and as we parted company there was a look on his face that I had taken action and had moved on, but he hadn’t, and he now wondered why.

Prof Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire believes this problem affects about 25% of us and is based on three key things which we’ll explore in greater detail:

1. The fear of failure

“He who never makes mistakes, never makes anything,” goes an English Proverb.

The scientific term is Atychiphobia, and it is an extremely irrational fear.  Fear of failure is one of the greatest fears people have. Fear of failure is closely related to fear of criticism and fear of rejection. The best way to overcome atychiphobia is to face it dead on and accept slowly but surely that failing is necessary for success. For those who know me they may not believe that I was afraid of failure public speaking. But because of the opportunities I could open for our business I almost forced myself into the lion’s den only to realise it was filled with playful kittens!

The Law of Feedback says, “There is no failure; there is only feedback”. Unsuccessful people look at failure as long lasting and personal. Successful people look at failure as outcomes or results which they can learn from.

Take these effective steps to get over yourself!

One: Take bold, decisive action

Two: Never give up, be persistent (my personal favourite)

Three: Learn why it happened, how it could have been avoided and what to do next time – Learn!

Four: Fail forward fast. Tom Peters, the management guru, said companies must fail forward fast. What does that mean? Well we learn from our mistakes correct? Therefore if we want to learn faster, we must make mistakes at a faster! Simple…

The key is that you must learn from the mistakes you make so you don’t repeat them.

2. We’re perfectionists

Perfectionism, Procrastination, and Paralysis – the vicious cycle, one leads to another. But how can we disrupt this cycle?

Perfectionism = Impossibility! So don’t trap yourself because you’ll never get your product or service ‘right’ and in reality the perfection is a process not a destination.

Think about all the companies and entrepreneurs who have done amazingly with a less than perfect product. Bill Gates and Windows, Steve Jobs and the iPhone, Stelios and the Easy brand, Alan Sugar with Amstrad.

3. Mountain of work is too big, so better not to start

Fast handling of things is the order of the day!

Make a To-Do list with your tasks numbered in priority, importance, and scheduled dates and times of completion. You can use your phone, filofax (if you’re retro) or Outlook to organise your tasks

Prioritise the importance of new tasks against the others in your list. Make sure you evaluate if it’s a real task or just distraction

Review, Rinse and start again your To-Do list. This is a must; your review should be conducted every other day or every day.

Beware the multi task trap! If something is really important then it will require 100% of your concentration so do not multi-task it will only slow you down and deliver poor results.

The secret is as quoted by Prof Richard Wiseman, the 1 minute rule, which states, “If you start by spending 1 minute on a task you’re must more likely to finish it”

So, we now get to answer the question “How do you eat an elephant…?” – ONE BITE AT A TIME.

See, there I told you it was simple!

Good luck!

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