Having just moved from Kent to Hampshire, my ‘to do’ list has become a novel in itself. I’ve just discovered bullet journaling (I will be writing a blog post on that next, as it’s a really great way of keeping organised, with a super easy ever-green system) and one of its features is you can postpone a task – or quickly move it to another day without it getting lost or forgotten. Great. However, there are some tasks that seem to be permanently on the ‘postpone’ loop – and it got me asking myself “why am I putting these tasks off?” The answer was quite simple…I was following the well known tactic; the path to least resistance – or in other words, not doing something if it looks too difficult.
We’re all guilty of putting off tasks that are challenging. And we all have tasks that are – it’s all part of running a successful business. But unless you’re learning a completely new skill, nothing is really that hard. In fact it probably fits under just 4 reasons.
- Reason we put off hard stuff #1. Don’t know where to start
- Reason we put off hard stuff #2. Seems too complicated
- Reason we put off hard stuff #3. Fear of getting it wrong
- Reason we put off hard stuff #4. Won’t tick the instant gratification box
Now, one of my more important tasks was to get my company’s books into shape – and to categorise all of my expenses – with receipts and invoices. This filled me with dread – “did I even have the receipts?”, “Where do I start..”, “this is going to take ages…” blahh, blahh, blahh – all the usual voices, which in turn made me resist the task. But actually, when I sat down, and just started at the beginning, it became easier and easier. I found my receipts (I had more of them than I thought, and now I have a new plan in place that will never make me misplace one again!) and the job is done. (I even found it quite enjoyable, once I’d got going!)
In his book, ‘:59 seconds. Think a little, change a lot’ Professor Richard Wiseman surmises that just starting a task (even if you only promise yourself you’re going to work on it for 5 minutes) will be enough to actually complete it. It’s similar to ‘just putting on your running shoes’; once you’ve done that, it’s pretty likely you’ll go for a run.
So, let’s take a look at how you can apply this little trick, and get over the four reasons I mentioned above, to writing a book.
I’m going to assume that writing a book is on your list of ‘to-dos’ – and I’m also going to assume that it’s been on your list for a while.
Okay. So, reason #1. Don’t know where to start.
This one is fairly easy – start with a plan. I’ve written numerous articles on how to get your plan written, (just click on the blue writing) – but in short, you start with your title. Or at least, what the book is going to do. Hopefully you know who your target audience is (don’t worry if you haven’t, it’s one of the things I can help you clarify if you decide to work with me on a coaching basis) and map out your chapters. Simply take an A4 piece of paper, put your title in the middle, and then mind-map what you need to cover. Click here to see an example. This exercise can take as little as 10 minutes – and serves as a great ‘mind dump’. If you get stuck, don’t worry – do something completely different, and usually you will relax, and suddenly ideas pop into your head. At this stage, you can write everything that comes to mind, no matter how random. You edit this list later. The key is get started. You’ll be amazed that once you have, your resistance barriers will start to dissolve and you’ll hear yourself saying things like “actually, this isn’t as hard as I thought.”
Reason #2. Seems too complicated.
Right, well, if you’ve started with a plan (explained above) hopefully you’re starting to see that it’s not quite as challenging as you made out. Ideas are now flowing, and you’ve got your project moving forwards. Next you need to make a timetable of what’s next. It can be as simple as: 1, finish the plan, 2, start writing, 3, think of cover ideas, 4, how to incorporate this into my marketing (blog, email, twitter etc). As a side note, telling your audience you’re writing a book can be a great way to get them involved, cover choices, asking for contributors, testimonials… it’s a mini PR system in itself, and makes great content. 5, layout and printing. Now if number 5 seems way out of your comfort zone, relax, there are loads of people out there who specialise in that – you just send them your word doc, and zap – they get all of that side of things done for you.
Reason #3. Fear of getting it wrong.
Well, this is a common fear for most new things we try. And this can be a motivational killer if we don’t deal with it head first. Can you write a book that’s rubbish? Yes, of course. BUT – are you an expert in what you do? (I’m going to assume yes) – is your business successful? (again, I’m going to assume yes) so if you know what you’re doing, and you do it well, there is no reason why you can’t impart that knowledge in the form of a book. In fact, I bet you’ve got loads of stuff already written in the form of blog posts, emails, and newsletter that you can easily adapt or tweak and use it as content. Getting a writing coach can also help you stay on track – and it’s a tactic my last two authors used – they’re now waiting for their books to come back from the printers, and I know their publications are going to boost their sales, and work tirelessly as a lead generator. So, if you’re worried about getting it wrong – just ask for help, or hire someone who can. Simples.
Reason #4. Won’t tick the instant gratification box.
Now this one is more common than you think. We, as humans, love to see something happen ‘now’. In fact in our ever increasing desire for instant gratification, understanding the benefits of doing something that takes a while can be hard to remember, when so much of our daily routines are met instantly with a result. In her article, ‘Breaking the cycle: Unlocking the science of bad habits’ Sophie Dundovic says “Breaking bad habits then becomes very difficult because it requires shifting from a more automatic reward based approach to taking a longer-term perspective, when our brains are wired to take the path of least resistance. Conversely, the problem with a lot of positive health behaviour, is that the benefits are not always immediately salient, and it can require a short term cost. Going for a run is not always pleasant, and while we know it is good for us, the future benefits can difficult to quantify” and I can’t agree with her more.
We live in an increasing ‘I want it NOW’ culture, and the internet is giving it to us. We don’t need to wait any more – almost anything is buy-able within 24 hours. If it isn’t, then we soon look for a company or solution that can. Patience is a dying virtue – but one we must respect if we want to create something of value. The turnaround of writing and publishing a book has shortened considerably in the last 20 years – but it’ still not something we can achieve in a week (although one of my authors did write and publish his 3rd book, Massive Traffic in less than 6!) But you can indulge in your gratification need, by setting small goals, within your project, that will help you see it progressing, and keep you on the road to success. I’ve only worked with a handful of authors who started their project, but didn’t finish, and that was mainly due to money constraints, or big lifestyle changes that just didn’t allow for the project to continue.
So, now I’ve explained the four top reasons why people put off their book writing project, I hope I’ve given you some ideas on how to start. In fact, that’s one great tip right there – just start. Even if you promise to work on it for 59 seconds…. you’ll be amazed at how your resistance to start dissolves.
If, of course, you really feel stumped, or you just want to talk through your idea, get in touch. I’ve worked with many business owners who have now successfully published their books and are reaping the benefits of using a book for lead generation. Just think, if you start now, you could have a book out at the beginning of 2017! What have you got to lose? A quick chat to me will cost you nothing…. but could mean £1,000’s of new revenue for you. Either email me, at email@example.com or call me on 02392 – 378625 and we can discuss your idea. Lets get it started today!