“I just can’t seem to get any traction.”
I have heard this said in some form or other from the people who come to me for coaching. They feel like their businesses and lives just aren’t going anywhere, no matter what they do.
Sometimes it is a matter of not knowing where to start. Sometimes it is a matter of not knowing where they want to go. Most get lost somewhere along the way. My job is to diagnose the problem and get my clients back on track. Typically, their problems lie within four areas.
1. Lack of focus
A lot of us, especially women, take pride in being able to multi-task but research has found that multi-tasking is inefficient. We are so busy multi-tasking activities that we don’t get any completed. There’s a certain point where you have to stop giving yourself an “A” for effort and start looking for actual results. So stop trying to do eight things at once and focus on one project at a time. At first it will be hard because all the other things that you need to do keep popping into your brain. Remind them that they will get their turn.
Reinforce your focus by asking yourself these questions:
- How does this activity relate to my overall business goals?
- Does this activity directly lead to bringing revenue into my account, business or personal?
- Is this the most important thing I can be doing at this point in time?
- What is my desired end result?
If the activity you are involved in doesn’t directly address your goals and needs, you are wasting your time. As a reminder, print these questions out in large font and post them over your work space.
The other thing you need to know is that your brain can only focus for an hour or two at a time. Take breaks every hour, clear your brain for ten minutes and then go back to work. I find people get lost in the task and lose focus when they don’t take breaks.
2. Not Having a Plan
You can’t design a plan if you don’t know what you want. So start with your goal and a deadline for reaching it. Now work backwards from that goal, week by week. If you want to reach your goal in twelve weeks, where should you be by week 11? Week 10? And so on until you reach week one. What is the ground work you need to lay in order to build a strong plan? What are the materials and skills you will need? What are the milestones along the way that will let you know that you are on target for reaching your goal? Make the steps small enough to be achievable but large enough to generate real progress. Creating a series of realistic steps and benchmarks will keep you on the right path.
3. Not Following the Plan.
I have a friend who lays out a new game plan every other month or so, usually because she has been to a seminar or heard a motivational speaker. She shifts with each passing wind. She is always enthusiastic and I can hear her voice even now: “Barb, I am really making a commitment to this. I know I can do it.” I know she CAN do it, too. But I also know that she WON’T do it.
The problem is that she spends her time laying out these game plans, any one of which, if she followed through, would work. But she has no follow-through. She starts out following the plan, but within a week or two, she is off course. “Life gets in the way,” she sighs. Well, maybe her next game plan should allow for life getting in the way. I suspect she allows life to get in the way more than is necessary. She has a lack of commitment that isn’t evident at first blush. People who meet her at networking meetings think of her as totally committed to her business. She thinks of herself as totally committed to her business. But I know her better. After eight years of watching her lay out game plans that she will never play out, I know that she lacks the commitment that she needs to make her business successful.
Maybe she has a fear of success. Maybe she lacks belief in her own abilities. Maybe her life really is so disorganized that it does get in the way. But the bottom line is that with even minimal follow through, she would be making six figures right now. It is all in the follow-through.
4. Not Giving Your Plan Time to Work.
Another friend of mine recently accepted a position to take over the sales division of an internet training company. He has vast experience in this field and more importantly, he is known for being able to walk into a company and turn it around. This is his field of expertise. When I asked him how it was going, he gave a sigh. The CEO of the company had never put a sales process in place, so he was starting from scratch. On top of that, their monthly expenses are so disproportionately high that the company is always scrambling to cover the bills, jumping from project to project to bring revenue in instead of working steadily towards building a solid customer base. Does this sound like many small businesses? He said, “The company never sticks to one plan long enough for the sales process to work.”
We live in a world of instant gratification. We can get the news, weather and traffic any time, day or night. We can get cash 24 hours a day. We can order online and have it delivered tomorrow, sometimes today. So when we put a plan in place, whether it is marketing, developing systems, or researching new products, and don’t see results instantly, we think we are on the wrong track and abandon the plan entirely.
Plans need time to work. They need commitment from you. Will they need tweaking and adjusting? Of course. When you tweak and adjust, change only one element at a time and see if your results change. You don’t throw away the entire game plan and start fresh. Give your plan time to work.
Action Creates Traction Which Creates Momentum
Setting goals and visualizing are just the first step in your path, whether you are looking to build your business or your life. Once you have a goal, you need to establish a workable plan. The next step is the most important: You have to take directed action. And keep taking action. You are overcoming inertia. Action creates traction. When you feel yourself starting to move forward, you can see success coming and your entire psychology changes. Your confidence level goes up and you carry yourself differently, you present yourself differently. As a result of that, you are perceived differently, by your prospects, your clients, your co-workers, friends and family. They have more trust in your abilities and send you more business, give you more credit. People like a winner and they want to be with a winner. This creates momentum which gives an exponential lift to the progress you are making. Once the momentum starts rolling, you will be unstoppable.