“What are you putting off out of fear?….I’ll repeat something you might consider tattooing on your forehead: What we fear doing most is usually what we most need to do. As I have heard said, a person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
– Tim Ferris
I recently announced my plan to leave my 9-5 career within three years, in short by converting location independent side hustles into full time entrepreneurship. January 2021. Last week, the clock started running. It’s funny what happens when you set a goal, give it a deadline, and proceed to share it with the world.
Well, my little corner of the world anyway.
All of the sudden, out of nowhere, this incredible sense of urgency materializes.. Business ideas or creative projects I’d previously dismissed as a “Someday, maybe…” reappear, vying for my attention.
Clamouring for action.
Everything becomes important. ‘Upskilling’ is suddenly a personal buzz word. That course I thought of taking in 6 months? Better get cracking in February. That website I was going to build next summer? It’s on the docket for next week. One by one, the to-do list grows, becoming suspended in my mind like a giant collection of must-do’s.
There’s something about all of this that feels very positive. All of the busyness is fuelled by an excitement I haven’t felt in some time. I have a renewed energy and sense of purpose.
This can only be good, right?
Here’s the list of to-do items I began to compile for the month of January:
- Finish writing content/posts for new website.
- Launch new website on or around January 15th.
- Write 4 to 5 posts for blog.
- Refresh MMM homepage???
- Complete at least 3 units of digital marketing course.
- Finish up mix/master of recording project (9 songs remaining)
- Reach out to 2-3 potential digital marketing clients/influencers.
- Finish the two books I’m currently reading.
- Stay on top of email
Did I mention that I work 40 hours a week, and have a family?
When I finally took a moment to look over my must-do list, I realized something. There was no sense of priority. In my mind, every task was as important as the next. I mean, I was committed to keeping that email inbox at ZERO!
Instead, what I was really doing was confusing the adding-on of activities with progress towards my goal.
I realized that I was being far too ambitious, and couldn’t possibly complete everything I’d set out to do.
So I took another look at my list, and asked myself the following questions:
If I could only accomplish ONE task in January, which would add the most value?
Which tasks would move me closer to my goal?
Which task was I most afraid of? Most reluctant to tackle?
Asking the tough questions provided real clarity.
It would make NO difference if the new website wasn’t ready until February, or later for that matter. Homepage refresh? Purely cosmetic. Staying on top of my email might actually move me farther AWAY from my goal. Most of the list was purely superficial, and only gave the impression of progress.
As it turned out, the most important task I could tackle this month was the toughest one, in my mind. It was also the least time consuming.
I decided to push past my fear and insecurity, and reach out to 2-3 potential digital marketing clients/influencers.
RELATIONSHIPS MATTER MOST
Last night, I had a 2 1/2 hour conversation with a successful digital marketer/online entrepreneur. He’s built six-figure businesses, and has worked with over 300 clients, including many large companies. By chance, I stumbled upon a (video) podcast he was a featured guest on a couple of months ago, and knew that he could provide valuable feedback on my plans to build my business.
He also happens to be a close friend who I haven’t seen several years.
It’s amazing how the passage of time falls away when you re-connect with a good friend. It was so wonderful to catch up, talk about our families and share some fond memories. It was a great reminder that relationship is what matters most.
How to summarize a near 3 hour conversation within a few sentences? Well, for starters, it was a game changer. One of the biggest value adds I’ve had since I started blogging. He looked at my list of projects/side hustles with a fresh set of eyes, and then challenged me with some tough questions of his own. He shared some of his successes, and failures.
And he made some recommendations. Frankly, there were a few I was not expecting. He saw strengths and opportunity in places I didn’t. And he dismissed a couple of ideas I thought were pretty solid.
My brain hurt this morning as I attempted to grasp his somewhat different vision for my business. Then something clicked, and ideas began to emerge. I began to see that there is a path to follow.
I won’t share his feedback with you in detail today, but for one thing.
“Three years. Your timeline is too long.”
Look closely at the tasks you have on your personal must-do list.
Whether you dream of entrepreneurship, debt reduction, financial independence, you name it, can you identify the most important one?
Which task will move you closest to that dream?
Take my advice, start with the one you fear the most.