Hi, guys. Rachel here.
A couple of years ago, I had a New Year’s resolution: I wanted to learn how to flip fried eggs without breaking the yolks.
I broke my yolks just about every time I made eggs, and it drove me absolutely crazy. I thought I was doing something wrong, that there was some secret I didn’t know about. This was the year, I thought, when I’d learn the secret combination of stove temperature, hand placement, and flipping technique that would get me perfect eggs every time. I scoured the Internet trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, and I tried a lot of different tricks. But nothing worked.
Why? Because there was no secret technique. I just needed a new spatula.
That year, I learned that you can follow a recipe to a T, but if you don’t have the right tools, you’re out of luck. I tried time and again to make my eggs the right way, but the problem wasn’t me. The only problem was the inferior tool I was working with.
The moral of the story is, you can spend year after year scrambling (no egg pun intended) to solve your problems, but if you don’t have the right tools, you’re out of luck. I’ve seen the same thing over and over with businesses I work with. They work incredibly hard trying to resolve issues with their online courses that could be easily resolved with a better tool – like Summit Evergreen.
Take a look at your business and think about what you want to grow and create. Do you want to build your first course? Build a better course? Sell more? Those are nice big goals, but they’re not enough. You need to be more specific.
My resolution was to learn a secret egg technique that doesn’t exist. Instead, it should have been to buy myself a nice new spatula. The resolution itself was too broad, and it was based on a faulty assumption. I set myself up to fail.
As human beings, we all make assumptions. We think we know exactly what our problem is and what we should do to address it. Unfortunately, we’re often wrong. Our diagnosis is incorrect, so any solutions we come up with will naturally be ineffective.
As business people, we like to think of ourselves as problem solvers. We don’t sit around waiting for things to fix themselves. We run full speed, taking action and making decisions. We throw energy at the problem and hope it will work.
That approach can get you in trouble. It leads to wild goose chases and rabbit holes. It leaves you with wasted effort, frustration, and burnout. Why? Because you haven’t correctly identified your issues and created a clear plan of action.
Instead of jumping to conclusions about what your business needs, you need to take a step back. Get a holistic view of where you are and what you need to do to get ahead. Think critically, not emotionally, about your business…and you’ll see a huge difference in your results.
Here are three steps to get you going.
1. Specify Actionable Goals
Everyone wants to “Increase Sales.” Who doesn’t? But that’s an overwhelming goal, and quite general. It’s a one-size-fits-all kind of goal.
What you need are specific goals tailored to you and your business.
Your course is different from everyone else’s. (Even if courses exist for a similar topic, your course has its own unique flavor.) Your target audience is different from everyone else’s. Plus, you’re at a different point in your business growth than everyone else.
You can’t expect your goals to apply to anyone but you.
Write down a list of all the ways you can improve your business. Your ideas can be as big as “Offer new carrot content to get more opt-ins” or as small as “Change font on sales page to be more readable.” Try to write down 20 things. Every item should be actionable with a clear result.
No blue sky goals like “Become a millionaire.” Write down HOW you’re going to become a millionaire.
2. Two-Minute Prioritization
Now that you have a list of action items, it’s time to prioritize. Without prioritization, you’ll turn into a kid in a candy store…excited today, suffering from a massive stomachache tomorrow.
You’re going to pick 3 things you’d like to work on, and work on one thing per week. This will allow you to really focus without getting burned out and overwhelmed.
How to choose what to do first? Use my signature Two-Minute Prioritization Technique.
Go through your list. Assign everything a letter A, B or C based on how important it is.
(A = most important, C = least important.)
Go through your list again. Assign everything a number 1, 2 or 3 based on how easy it is to do.
(1 = easiest, 3 = hardest)
Cross off everything on your list that has a C or a 3 next to it. That should immediately eliminate about ⅓ of your list, getting rid of the least important and most difficult items.
Start working on your A1 items. These are your low-hanging fruit, your most important and least difficult goals. These are the quick wins that you can do right away to give yourself the most bang for your buck…and keep you motivated to continue. Later, you can take a look at the B1/A2 items.
With the Two-Minute Prioritization Technique, you’ll never have to overanalyze your to-do list again. You only have to make two decisions about each item (importance and easiness). You’ll have instant marching orders for yourself in no time at all.
3. Get Out Of Jail Free Card
Now that you know your priorities, you have to commit to getting things done. This can be the hardest part of all. Most people are easily distracted by just about anything, and we procrastinate at the drop of a hat. It’s human nature, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Get out of your bad procrastination habits by giving yourself a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.
When you use your card, you’re allowed to ignore other people and tasks to focus on your priorities. You’re giving yourself permission to deprioritize all the other stuff in your life: emails, phone calls, time-wasters, meetings, paperwork, favors for other people, goofing off online.
For at least an hour a day, give yourself full use of your Get Out Of Jail Free Card. You should be able to focus on making your goals a reality during that time. If you’re a morning person, use the card in the morning. If you’re a night person, use it at night. Follow your productivity rhythms to get the most of out of it.
Can’t focus for a full hour? Focus for 20 minutes. You’d be shocked to see what you can accomplish in 20 minutes of uninterrupted attention. Way more than you’d think!
Remember what I said earlier about how the right tool can change everything? Think about using tools to help you focus during your Get Out Of Jail Free time. There are dozens of free productivity tools and apps to keep you from surfing the Internet, checking your email, or deviating from your plan. Even a good old-fashioned stopwatch can remind you that you’re “on the clock.”
We’re so used to distraction and interruption, we don’t realize how much we could accomplish if we really gave ourselves permission to concentrate. Well, I’m giving you permission to take that time and focus on yourself and the things you want to accomplish. Go ahead. You deserve it! And you deserve success.
Don’t worry if your friends complain that you’re out of reach during Get Out of Jail Free time. Take it as a compliment! Go ahead and humble-brag about how productive you are. Productivity is contagious. When other people see how well you’re doing, you’ll inspire them to buckle down and get moving. Everyone will want to know your secret.
What are your goals for the New Year? Take our 5 second survey and share your plans with us.