Blog Post / Jan. 13, 2020

What’s Holding You (and Me) Back?

Written by Claudia Williams

Winston Churchill said, “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”

As a consultant, I find it easy – like really easy – to help others see the forest through the trees, to help others build better relationships, to help others solve workplace problems that seem so obvious to me yet are obtuse and difficult for them. I have a knack for figuring out what’s holding other people back and helping them get over the hump.

But when it comes to figuring out what’s holding me back, I lack said knack. I have a vision. In fact, that’s my strength. I’m a visionary. I can see what I want to be and what I want to happen. I can brainstorm ideas and come up with some really good ones. I have lots and lots of ideas. I can make lists like a champ. I can see the end game. That’s all good. What do I lack? Execution.

Yes. I’m one of those visionary entrepreneur types. I wish I had a team of people who could take my vision and ideas and turn them into realities. But I don’t. And at the end of the day, when it comes to what you want to accomplish, neither do you.

It doesn’t matter if you own your own business or want to advance in your career or make changes in your personal life. We all have ideas. We all have decisions to make. So, what can we do to get unstuck and start executing on those ideas? I have some ideas! (I laughed out loud as I was typing this…I think I’m funnier than I really am).

  1. Clear Your Head.

I don’t mean take deep breaths and do a mindfulness exercise, although that isn’t necessarily a bad idea. I mean take the thoughts and ideas in your head and get them OUT of your head. Write them down. Try journaling. Try mind mapping. Make a list. Talk it through with a trusted friend, mentor or coach.

When everything is swirling around, it can feel overwhelming. We don’t know where to begin. It’s one thing to have ideas. It’s another thing to verbalize them and start to bring them to life. This is your chance to flesh out your ideas. Are they realistic? Are they achievable? Are they actionable? Once we flesh out the ideas, we can move on to the next step.

  1. Organize Your Genius.

Okay. You’ve got your ideas. They’re brilliant, of course. And there probably are many. That’s great! But having a lot of brilliant ideas means nothing if you don’t put them in some sort of achievable order. Try making two lists: (A) Things I Really, Really WANT to Do; and (B) Things I Really MUST Do. Take all of the ideas and classify them accordingly.

Yes. I’m suggesting you go classic with this and focus on needs and wants. It’s important to understand the difference, not only when you want to buy a new pair of shoes, for example, (which always falls under the “must” column, right??), but also when you need to decide what to do. Is it something you need to do – your job depends on it? Your business depends on it? Or is it something you want to do, because it is personally fulfilling or advances you toward your goal in some way? It’s possible that you have the same idea in both columns. You can both need and want to do something. In fact, having something in both columns just might help you narrow your focus. Speaking of which….

  1. Narrow Your Focus

Having identified your needs and wants, it’s time to be realistic about you can accomplish. Look at all of the things you have to do. Prioritize them first in the order in which they must be completed. A priority is a very individual kind of thing. As a solopreneur, I often find myself prioritizing what must be done based on revenue generation. If I can generate the revenue, then I have what I need to fuel other things that either I must or want to do. I might have two “musts” going at the same time. Maybe I have a must and a want going at the same time. It isn’t multi-tasking. It’s simply doing what must be done.

Next, assign realistic timelines to each item, each with a deadline. Hold yourself accountable to those deadlines. We have a million reasons why we can’t get something done. Believe me – I’m often the queen of excuses. There will be obstacles. There will be unexpected situations that may cause delay or derailment. It’s okay. Your lists and priorities are flexible and may need to be adjusted from time to time.

Now Rock On!

The key to success is regularly revisiting the lists, making necessary adjustments, committing to deadlines, and – most of all – doing the work. This entire piece is just as much a letter I’m writing to myself as it is something that might be helpful to you or someone else. In early 2019, I’m going to post my goals and track my own accountability to them right here on my blog! The thought of that scares the heck out of me. And it should. I’m counting on you to help keep me accountable. Who will be your accountability partner?