Oct 01 , 2015
One of the most powerful insights I’ve gained since starting my first business is that there is an abundance of opportunities.
There’s always a way to get more customers.
There’s always a way to start a business even while you’re working a full time job.
There’s always a way to increase your rates so you can work less and profit more.
In fact, if you ever stop and think about all the opportunities to improve your life or business, it’s pretty amazing. Even overwhelming.
Almost anything you could possibly want to learn is now taught online, and if the information isn’t online, the person who has that information can likely be found online.
With all this knowledge at our fingertips, why is it that most still aren’t achieving their goals? If it’s possible for one handyman to make 6 figures while only working 4 days a week, why aren’t all handymen doing the same?
I think the answer is pretty simple. There is a lack of action.
“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” – Pablo Picasso
I’m not saying that most people are all just sitting around doing nothing. In fact, most people are taking action. But, the action they are taking is easy, habitual, and scattered.
Doing the same thing you did yesterday can be effortless. Doing that hard thing you know you need to do is, well, hard. That action is likely unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and even a little scary. It may require you to be vulnerable.
But, that’s where all the magic happens. Counterintuitively, the things we avoid most are often the things that bring us the most growth, happiness, and fulfillment.
For example, writing this article is hard for me. I’d rather be out building something. But, I know that when I’m done and I hit publish, I have the opportunity to really help people and improve my own circumstances in the process.
Maybe this article won’t be a hit, but I know if I keep writing, someone will tell me how I literally changed their life. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. That’s worth the hard work.
We all struggle to take bold action toward that next level because what got us where we are won’t get us to where we want to go. We have to change something and change is difficult.
But, learning how to train yourself to take bold action is a skill we should all learn. It’s something I’ve studied for the last 4 years and it’s something I’ll continue to study.
I’m not going to pretend like I’ve mastered it, but I have improved tenfold. Here are a few simple and effective tips I’ve picked up along the way.
#1 – Schedule Block Time
“When I get a chance” never happens. If you want to get something done that you’ve been putting off, it’s time to step back and actually schedule it in. Just like you’d schedule in a job with a customer, schedule some dedicated time and guard it with your life.
I’ve spoken to several handymen who schedule one day a week to work on their business instead of in it. That means no jobs scheduled for that entire day. It may seem like this is a waste of perfectly good billable hours, but often this is the difference between those charging $60+ an hour and those constantly working for $30/hr. Handyman skills on their own will only get you so far. You also need to spend time on business skills.
In 2014 I had a strict policy of only scheduling jobs 3 days a week so I could spend the other two writing for this blog and completing my pricing guide. As a result I’ve created another stream of income and helped hundreds of people run more profitable businesses.
That would have never happened if I didn’t carve out time from my already busy schedule.
#2 – Lower your Standards
If you tend to be a perfectionist, as many handymen are, then you’re likely making a project too big in your head. Waiting for more information, more time, or to be able to do something perfectly is just an excuse to procrastinate.
Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough. Instead, lower your standards. If you’re having trouble following through with building your online presence, then just take imperfect action.
Maybe that means just building your website so you actually have one, even though it’s not the best. Maybe that means putting up an about page even though it’s nowhere close to perfect.
A half completed website will generate infinitely more leads than one that doesn’t exist.
Don’t let yourself fall victim to the very things that are holding your competition back. It’s your chance to take it to the next level. Sit down, get it done, and even if it’s not perfect, you’ll gain that critical momentum needed and your perfectionism can go to work and fix it later.
#3 – Loss Aversion Can Be Your Ally
As humans, we tend to be loss averse. There have been countless studies to show that we tend to be more motivated by avoiding loss than by achieving goals.
Or, said another way, we are willing to work significantly harder to avoid losing $5 than we are to try to gain $5.
The crazy thing is that this can actually effect our performance. For example, golfers tend to putt better for par than they do for birdie because they view missing par as a potential loss while not getting a birdie as a foregone gain.
So, why not use this powerful psychological principle as a way to inspire action?
Here’s one way.
Find a charity or cause that you absolutely hate. One that really bothers you. (maybe to a politician you disagree with) Then, make a commitment to donate a set amount of money to that charity if you don’t follow through with achieving your goal by a set date.
You can then use a website like Stickk.com or a friend to hold yourself accountable and donate the money for you.
Do this and you’ll tap into the power of loss aversion to dramatically increase your focus and follow through.
#4 – Make Small Commitments
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with excitement when we come across a new idea and set huge goals. Goals like: I’m going to build my online presence this week! Or, I’m going to spend 2 hours a day after work to on starting my business!
I love those times of inspiration, but they rarely last. That excitement and motivation will slowly drift away and your normal habits will make it hard to live up to that huge commitment.
Making big changes is hard. Not impossible, but it takes a lot of willpower.
So, just make micro commitments.
Instead of trying to spend 2 hours a day on something, just commit to doing one task a day toward that goal. That task could be as small as coming up with 5 ideas for a business name, reading 10 pages of a marketing book, or just spending 15 minutes to strategize on how to make more money in less time.
Of course once you get started you can spend more time than that, but the goal is to trick yourself into simply taking action.
#5 – Study Habits and Routines
As you know, habits drive a large portion of your behavior – everything from how you brush your teeth to what you think about when you first wake up.
Your habits effect how organized you are, how you interact with others, and how you tend to deal with challenges.
Performing a deeply rooted habit is pretty much effortless. You don’t even have to think about it. It’s just automatic. If you’re a coffee drinker, walking over to the coffee maker in the morning likely just happens without you even realizing it.
There’s a lot of great content written on habits, how they effect your behavior and success, and how to use them to your benefit.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading up on habits. James Clear has a great blog on habits. The best book I’ve read on the subject is “The Power for Habit.” (you can also get the audio book on audible if you’re not a big reader) This is a great place to start.
Understanding how habits work gives you a new power over your own behavior you couldn’t have otherwise. Use that power to program good habits that move you toward your goals effortlessly.
#6 – Practice Immediate Implementation
Whenever you hear a great piece of advice or a way to move you toward your goal, try to take action immediately. Not tonight. Not tomorrow. Not next week.
That action could be tiny. For example, it could be going to Amazon.com right now to order the “The Power of Habit”.
Or, it could be as simple as opening up your calendar and scheduling time to work on what you just learned.
Or, it could be as big as scheduling an entire week to not do a single thing but work on your business.
The more time that passes between being inspired and acting, the more likely you won’t act.
One Last Important Point
Taking action doesn’t always mean working more or working harder. Sometimes it simply means stepping off the hamster wheel for a minute to think.
Sometimes taking action means saying “No” to an opportunity when you know it’s not your priority.
Often, taking action is simply the act of doing less.
Whatever it is that your trying to achieve or improve in your business, it’s only going to happen if you start taking action. Thinking about it won’t do much. Someday never happens.
“I’ll get to it when I have a chance” is just succumbing to the illusion that someday your life will be easier, less busy, and all the stars will align perfectly.
If you struggle with this, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, switch up your strategy. Try just one of the strategies above. It may be just what you need to break through to the next level of profits and enjoyment in your business.