Just wear leather pants and high heels, or, how to get shit done
Today's post is a little different, as it's a chapter from my book. Hope you enjoy!
As a business owner/solo entrepreneur, you will have days when you don't feel like it. You don't feel like coaching the clients on your schedule (be grateful you have clients btw). You don't feel like attending that networking event. You don't feel like writing your blog or your newsletter or even getting out of your pajamas, let alone accomplishing anything on your never-ending to do list.
I can't really remember where I came across this all-important axiom, but essentially it goes like this: If you waited until you felt like it before you did something, you'd probably not do much of anything. Essentially, "I don't feel like it" is not a feeling.
And so my friends, we come to find that we can't trust that "I don't feel like it" feeling. It's a liar. And a cheat. It will tell you what your lazy ego wants to hear and steal your ideas, your energy and future success. It keeps you in the land of potential energy forever and ever amen.
Sound like you want to snuggle up to that kind of feeling? I think not. Not if you have dreams, goals, kids or a dirty bathroom on your hands.
In my life, a lot of things rub elbows on the list of "I don't feel like its."
They include, in no particular order:
* Doing the laundry
* Putting most anything where it belongs. This includes dirty cups, dirty clothes, art supplies, and car keys, among others.
* Calling dear friends and family whom I love
* Paying taxes and otherwise doing bookkeeping tasks
* Marketing/asking people to work with me
* Going to church
* Going to networking events
* Writing (some days)
* Coaching (some days)
* Showering (many days)
* Going to social events with people I dearly love
* Putting on real people clothes (e.g. not spandex)
* Mundane tasks like renewing licenses/license plates or getting oil changes
At this moment, I have no husband, children, pets or roommates. It's literally all about me. Admittedly I pay my dear assistant Karen to do as much of the above as possible. Still, things linger that need my input alone. And therefore I must put on my big girl pants and do them. What is interesting is that in the vast majority of cases, after I've completed something that I previously didn't feel like doing, I feel so incredibly fantastic! So there you go, I for one really can't trust this feeling one iota.
I also understand that putting on your big girl pants is not a particularly compelling strategy, so I'd like to offer some better ideas than just, "grow up and do it."
When I work with clients who are struggling at completing various tasks because the "I don't feel like it" monster has reared its ugly head, I ask them the following questions (and invite you to ask yourself these questions as well):
Q. What don't you feel like doing today/this week/this lifetime? (Rule One: Identify the challenge in plain language.)
A. Well, Lauren, I'm just not feeling sitting down at my piano and coming up with some new tunes. I feel like I've lost my inspiration.
Q. Ok Bob, sounds like you are hitting a little bit of a wall with this. What would you prefer to do instead? (Rule Two: See if any productive alternatives exist or if extenuating circumstances are preventing concentration on task at hand.)
A. Well what I'd really like to do is smoke some reefer and clean my room. I can't stand it when it's messy.
Q. Ah, so I'm hearing you say that the clutter is distracting you. How likely are you to be able to accomplish 30 minutes of song writing if you have a clean room? (Rules Three/Four: Satisfy the stated condition (clean room) and break the task into bite-size chunk (30 min).
A. Pretty likely. Yeah! I can do that.
Q. Ok, great. What if you take the next thirty minutes to smoke your reefer and clean your studio and the thirty minutes after that for songwriting. I'd like for you to check in with me at the end of the hour. (Rule Five: Create accountability plan.)
A. Rockin. Call you in an hour.
Q. So, how'd that turn out for you?
A. Eh good man, but eh, not so good.
Q. Tell me about it. (Rule Six: Avoid the yes/no question by asking open ended question that invites nuanced response.)
A. Well, I smoked my doobie, cleaned my room, but then I came across some old pictures from Bonnaroo and sat looking at them for the next 20 minutes. By that time I only had ten minutes left, and I still didn't feel like writing.
Q. Ok Bob, it's time to break out the big guns. You ready for this? (Rule Seven: Set expectation for fierce coaching.)
A. Bring it. That's why I pay you the big bucks!
Q. Indeed. Ok Bob, tell me why you want to write for thirty minutes today. I want you to list every single reason you can think of. Ready? Go! (Rule Eight: Identify significance of challenging task across all spheres of life.)
A. That's easy!
I'm a song writer.
I get paid for songs.
I love music.
I love to play the music I write.
I love to sell the music I write.
I have a phat studio.
When I'm in the zone of writing I feel amazing. There's nothing like it.
I get depressed when I'm not creative for a long time.
Q. Great. Those are all good reasons. Now I want you to list what would happen if you don't sit your ass down today, right now, and tinker around for 30 minutes; remember, no need to write the next Billboard chart topper. (Rules Nine and Ten): Identify consequences of not following through on expressed desire and decrease quality expectation.
A. Ok sure sure. So if I don't write anything today, I might not write anything tomorrow. With me, it's a habit you know? And I just gotta write. Otherwise my blood feels like it clogs up in my veins. (Hey that might be a good lyric. Word, man.) So yeah, it's just that, uh, I don't get paid and then I can't eat and pay my bills and junk or even call myself a song writer. I gotta write. Even if I didn't get paid, I gotta write. Even if it's shit I gotta write. Plus I don't want my label breathing down my neck about bringing in those producer clowns with their own shit. If I have my own songs, then I don't have to sit down and write with Taylor Swift or somethin. I'd rather have JT any day of the week. Yeah man. I don't know what my problem was but I'm just gonna do it. I gotta go, is that cool?
Q. Sure, yeah. Enjoy it. What can you do to make it even more fun, besides toking a bit more? (Rule Eleven: Build in fun.)
A. Well, I do like to write in my hammock by the beach. I can do that today. And use my favorite pen.
Q. Sounds good my friend. I'll let you get to it.
For myself, I know that costuming helps immensely. If I'm painting something, I don my painting outfit (Tom Sawyer overalls and an old oxford shirt). It makes me feel like it's less tedious. Look! A costume! Fun!
If I'm cleaning, I pretty much always wear rock star clothing: high heels, leather pants, and I blast crazy music. If I'm writing, I like to be cozy and warm, so I put on toasty socks and brew some tea. It's very strategic for me that way and puts me closer to "the zone." Btw, there's a guy who I see in the afternoons at Gold's Gym in Richmond. I know exactly what he does to put himself in the zone for working out.
First, he goes to Taco Bell for a huge coke. Then he puts on acid wash jeans or OP jams and a ripped 80s rocker t-shirt. He brushes out his mullet so it's extra fluffy and makes sure he goes to the tanning bed for about seven minutes before he hops on the treadmill for a nice walk. Obviously it's working for him. He's been there every afternoon that I've just happened to work out at that hour. He's en fuego with the consistency of his workout routine. And we can all learn from that.
What about presents as a reward for finishing something?
I don't typically reward myself after completing an "I don't feel like it" task because I want to be able to find the internal wherewithal to do it without having a carrot to lead me towards completion.
So the Rules of Accomplishing Pretty Much Anything are:
One: Identify the challenge in plain language. What, exactly, are you struggling with completing?
Two: What are the extenuating circumstances that might prevent completion of the task at hand? In other words, do you have any conditions that must be satisfied before you can begin work?
Three: Satisfy the stated condition before work can begin.
Four: Break the "I don't feel like it" task into a manageable chunk.
Five: Create an accountability plan.
Six: Ask yourself or your client open ended questions that avoid yes/no responses.
Seven: Set an expectation for fierce advocacy as coach/friend/self.
Eight: Identify the significance of completing this task. What is the payoff?
Nine: Identify consequences/fall out of not following through with this task.
Ten: Decrease quality expectation for task completion. Minimize the importance of near perfection.
Eleven: Build in fun. Create an atmosphere of delight with seemingly small elements that make a big difference.
So there you have it, peeps. If you are avoiding doing something (ahem calling the IRS), then go through these steps to get you there.
And when in doubt, just put on some leather pants and high heels and a Hypercolor t-shirt. You feel like you can conquer anything dressed like that. Promise.