Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Must Find New Work -- I Keep Putting it Off

It is uncanny all of the ways we can keep ourselves busy to delay doing a challenging and uncomfortable task. Such a challenge for many, and me, is to connect with new people in the business community on a regular basis.

I go to networking events just like you, meet new people, collect business cards, and in the moment know I need to reconnect with at least one of them because he/she could really be a great connection. A day later I am procrastinating and not following up to take the potential relationship further. We/I fuss and delay because beginning any new relationship is an emotional experience -- it opens the door for someone new to judge us worthy or unworthy. Who wants that hassle! Not I.

Yet I must -- I need to find little steps to get me to where I know I could go. Here are a few things I do to help me overcome my procrastination:
  • One-a-Week: Rather than overwhelm myself in believing I have to connect with everyone I meet as soon as possible I select just one or two people each week to focus on. That's seven days to work through all of the ways I get in my own way so I can accomplish what only takes a few moments -- make a call to set up a lunch.
  • Create Accountability: I do better when I know that I am being watched. Not in a negative way or like I am being forced into anything, but like, to do better with someone beside me who cares and encourages me to accomplish what I state I will do. Being accountable is a good motivator for all of us.
  • Put an Appointment on My Calendar: Schedule you uncomfortable moment manage it as a real to-do. Being on-task has its own comfort.
  • Put Your Hardest Tasks Earliest in the Day: Being fresh and ready provides great energy and courage.
  • Record the Results of Your Calls: Keeping a simple list of whom you called and whether they scheduled an appointment with you is a great tool. What I have witnessed over the years is that most of the calls I make result in a yes. Being able to see that provides incredible encouragement for more, positive action.
  • Exchange the Responsibility with a Colleague: There is certainly someone else at your firm in a similar situation. Volunteer to be their "agent" if they will volunteer to be yours. So, they meet someone and you make the call to set up an appointment which both of you attend -- knowing that you enabling a relationship, not the focus. Hopefully they are going to do the same for you. This works because two people working for each other will travel faster than one person working for themselves (in most cases).
In truth, all of the ways to overcome our reluctance to do what we know we need to do is to volunteer to create some process that holds us to our desire -- even when it means traveling outside our comfort zone. I have spent too many years on that edge to mention -- and it works, with fun result.