So you’ve set the goal for yourself and you’ve started working towards it.
But most of the time “you’re not feeling it”. It’s not “clicking”.
You do the bare minimum to sense some sort of progress, and to feel good about yourself, and then that’s that.
When you have no deadline, it’s all still an abstract project. And sure, while there’s no real risk of failure or giving up, there is absolutely no sense of urgency. No extra propellant to drive you to go the extra mile.
Let me give you an example from my own life.
When I first started trying to make money online, I had the abstract idea that “some time during 2014” I wanted to be making at least 1000$ per month. And I’ve got to be honest. It became an excuse. I felt like I had “all the time in the world” and whenever I had a minor success, I felt comfortable just putting my feet up and tapping myself on the shoulder for a job well done.
My parents are too nice and polite to tell me to get my ass in gear, I have to do it myself. And just standing in front of a mirror telling myself “man you need to get your ass in gear” never seemed to do the trick for me. The only thing it invoked was a feeling of guilt.
So here’s what to do instead:
Set An Unavoidable Deadline And Get Specific
Whether it’s a plane ticket, notifying your landlord that you’re going to move out, or telling your boss you’re leaving at a certain date, an unavoidable deadline gives you something tangible to work towards. It also forces you to think pragmatically about how you’re going to make the deadline, helping you eliminate endeavors that won’t be helpful in the short term.
Seeing as I’m unemployed and live at home, I opted for moving out. The fact that I want to travel, and the fact that I want to live somewhere warm and sunny, and the fact that I have a very limited budget, lead me to buy a one way ticket to Thailand, where after budget travelling for maybe two weeks (all the while keeping up with my writing) I will settle in Chiang Mai for a month. If I don’t make any money, I will run out some time during the second month, and so I will have no choice but to step up and get er done.
That’s why I think living at home can be dangerous. It’s given me a sense that I have all the time in the world “to figure things out”, and it has been negatively influencing my social life and even how I feel about myself. Feeling the pressure of a deadline proved to be the cure for my minor breakdown, along with, of course, some help from my friends.
29 days from now I have a one way ticket to Bangkok Thailand.
But it’s not like I have accepted a job offer and will be staying in Bangkok for a long period of time. And it’s not exactly travelling for leisure either.
It’ a gamble.
After I go to Thailand, travel around for a bit see some sights, I’m going to be living in Chiang Mai. Then after about two months, my next stop is the Philippines, where I’ll be staying mostly in Davao.
I’m wagering my small budget, and this entire year that I’ll not only be able to make a living while “semi-on-the-road” but that I’ll enjoy it enough to keep doing it.
I only have about a 2000$ budget and I’m done taking my parents’ money. I’ve gotten my first freelance writing clients, and although I had a not-so-minor set back this month, I’m wagering that I’ll be able to make ends meet by the end of my first month abroad.
I’ve got 59 days to go from 100-400 dollars a month to over 1000$ a month of online income.
That’s what an unavoidable deadline looks like (apart from the travel plans).
Get Back In The Saddle, Remember What You Do At Your Very Best
When you fall out of your routine the worst thing you can do is to let this escalate in to a seizing of effort. To use it as an excuse to stop trying. I talked about this in my past post, but I didn’t implement properly.
Now I’m reviewing my past efforts and focusing on my very best times. Remembering what I did differently, and how it affected me. So it’s back to the handwritten checklists for me. It forces me to get a minimal level of time management into my daily routine, and that is enough to instigate a lot more effort.
I just checked off my first item in a while, and it feels great.
I also remembered that I announced my week of superhuman productivity here on this blog, at length, and it actually became the most productive week I’d have. Maybe I should just announce that every week is a week of superhuman productivity. But I suspect it would lose it’s efficiency fast.
Instead I’m announcing my first eBook: “How To Find Your First Freelance Writing Client, Even If You’re Clueless, Lost And Overwhelmed”, where I’ll get more specific about how I got my first client, the process leading up to it and how you can replicate my efforts more effectively. I’m aiming to address the concerns I had when getting into it, effectively producing a piece of work that will help similar people overcome the same obstacles more quickly than I did. But also any concerns you might have about the subject, so feel free to ask me any questions you’d love to see answered.
As it stands, I plan to release the eBook in 28 days, the day before I fly to Thailand, and this will add another layer of accountability. My accountability to you, the reader, to do a good enough job that I have something valuable to teach you in the pages of my eBook.
Only Tell People Who Understand Your Goal And Believe In You
When you’re trying to accomplish something, the last thing you should do is add a barrier of shame or self-doubt because of how your friends react. I’ve deliberately been selective with who I’ve told, and instead of people who’ve learned to expect the worst from me, I’ve told my accountability buddy and declared it to the great online community over at Fizzle and one friend. No Facebook status. No mass texts. No drunken bragging.
Not to mention that just aimlessly talking about your goal can make you less likely to follow through. You have to be conscious and deliberate with this.
Also positive reinforcement has been proven to be a much more effective catalyst than negative, so if you can continue to progress and tell people who actually give a shit, you’re giving yourself a better fighting chance. At least that’s what the research seems to suggest.
Remind Yourself WHY You’re Doing It And Where You’re Headed On Your To Do List
This is an interesting idea that was introduced to me by Chase Reeves over at Fizzle (A great learning resource and a great community all in one.) Instead of just writing down items as they are, he suggests that you use a short acronym that describes WHY you’re doing it. So for me I’ve started marking tasks with “LI” for location independence. So most of my to do list items right now look like “LI finish draft”.
Also, above the list instead of “To do list” it says “LOCATION INDEPENDENCE BY APRIL 2014!” At the very least, it makes me smile and helps me escape negativity and self-doubt when I’m not feeling 100% but need to get started.
To me this is an exercise to help put things into perspective. There’s nothing exciting about sitting down for the extra half hour and getting your daily word count. But when you set up a system that actively reminds yourself what it’s contributing towards it gets a bit less difficult.
Should You Have A Plan B?
Maybe you should. At the surface level it seems like a no brainer. Of course I should line up further studies that I can accept if nothing works out. Or line up a job. My worry is that this will undermine my determination to go through with this wholeheartedly, and make me focus on my doubts, setting myself up for failure.
Right now I’m leaning towards no Plan B, but I have the freedom to do so only because I’m still young and not struggling with heavy debts. If your life situation is different from mine, I urge you to adapt accordingly and put a plan B in place.
Maybe I will change my mind and put in some applications for a marketing degree at a minor University before I leave and leave it at that. There’s something a little unsettling about putting all your eggs in one basket. I would love to hear some thoughts on this.
Anyhow, I’m leaving in 29 days.
I have 30 days to get things in order after that.
If nothing else, I can promise you that things are going to get interesting around here!
Picture credit: Ben Watts