Doing what we don’t wanna do

From both my own experience and that of people I coach, one of the biggest challenges for solopreneurs is keeping ourselves motivated and focused on doing the important things, even if they’re not the things we want to do.

When I hear myself saying “I know I should do such-and-such, but …”, I stop and ask myself what is keeping me from doing that thing. As a one-person business, I don’t have a boss to hold me accountable and the consequences of non-action aren’t as immediately painful as doing something that’s way outside my comfort zone. Here are a few of the things that help me move from “I know I should” to “I did it!”

* I plan backwards from my goal. Having been really inspired by the ideas behind The 12-Week Year, every three months I sit myself down and ask what I want to have accomplished at the end of these next 12 weeks. And I spell out what steps I have to take every week to get to that goal at the end of 12 weeks. The consequences of non-action are really clear; as much as I don’t want to do this, if I don’t, I won’t be able to get to X in 12 weeks. 

* I use an accountability group. We meet, face to face, every six weeks and we each talk about what our goals and accomplishments were for the last 6 weeks and where we need to go next. Yeah, sometimes the update is “Work got crazy and I dropped the ball” or “I realized after three weeks, based on feedback, that this approach was way off. Can we brainstorm?” But I always know I have to answer to two colleagues I respect and admire for whatever procrastination I let get in the way of my goals.

* I identify my most important long-term goals and then figure out what activities – if done consistently and frequently – will get me to those goals. If, for example, I want to build a strong referral network so that I have clients calling me and asking if I’m available for a project, I know I have to be consistently (every week or two) sharing content and ideas in front of my client base, week after week, in multiple channels and formats. It’s not easy, but I know from experience that this is the most effective way of creating clients who already know they want to work with me even before we first talk.

What do you do to do The Things that you just don’t want to do?


Read more thoughts about managing yourself

4 comments on “Doing what we don’t wanna do

  1. Great post, Mary Ellen. I also use the principles behind The 12 Week Year. Also, I motivate myself by not only visualizing myself all done with this particular task and basking in how good it feels, but also visualizing the process of doing the task and actually enjoying it. It’s helped me get through some tasks I definitely didn’t want to do.

  2. Mary Ellen, did you assemble your own accountability group or did you find one through a professional organization?

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