When I’m working with a client, eventually we reach the point of laying out the plan for doing whatever it is they’re wanting to do.
Maybe it’s creating a website. Or setting up an online shop where they can sell their wares. Or launching a service business of some kind.
Before we get into prioritizing and scheduling, we start with some initial brainstorming of the tasks that need to happen.
A real-life hypothetical example
Judy (name and details changed, of course) wants to sell her amazing coconut chocolate chip cookies. She has a secret ingredient that makes her cookies unfuckingbelievably delicious. So delicious that people experience a rush of endorphins every time they eat one of her cookies.
In fact, she wants to bring world peace by increasing endorphin levels worldwide.
These are the kinds of tasks I usually hear.
Begin brainstorming (in no particular order):
Find a professional food photographer so the cookies can look their best
Research shopping carts
Set up business bank account
Get a business license
Find an accountant
Buy, download, install and set up Quickbooks
Figure out how to integrate a shopping cart with a website
Set up the website
Choose a domain name
Set up the products in the cart/website along with the pretty pictures
Test the set up
Start telling people about the cookies
The list has the potential to be endless. Can you say instant overwhelm?
Cutting the crap
There are three big concepts* I’ve learned about doing stuff that involves putting ourselves out there and doing things we’ve never done before.
1. It’s easy to get distracted from just getting started when you’re trying to do everything “right.”
2. Focusing on the distractions will drain your creative energy.
3. Resistance will come up sooner or later.
* Of course, there are more than three big concepts, but these are the three we’re discussing today.
The problem with #1 is that it keeps us in perpetual preparation mode.
And being in perpetual preparation mode leads to #2. Doing the Thing is what energizes us. Use up all your energy doing the Other Crap and you’ll never get back to Doing the Thing.
On top of draining our energy, perpetual preparation also keeps us from addressing any real resistance (see #3).
Yes, those perpetual preparation tasks are part of the resistance, but they’re also decoys.
Usually the real resistance that comes up for me and for my clients sounds more like…
…These cookies aren’t that good.
…How will I ever support myself without a corporate job?
…There’s no way people will ever pay me enough to do something I actually love to do.
Real resistance often has to do with how we value ourselves and our skills. And our beliefs about how the universe works and where our support comes from.
The sooner we can identify and address the real resistance (as opposed to just hanging out with the decoys), the sooner we can do the things we want to do.
Remember Hedgehog Girl? She was the real resistance, while the tweaking and re-tweaking of my website was the decoy. As long as I kept trying to deal with the decoy, I wasn’t giving her what she needed to feel safe and allow me to move forward.
It’s the difference between treating the symptom and treating the cause.
Clearing away the decoys
Here’s a question that will clear away the decoys:
What’s the shortest, simplest path to doing what you want to do?
What Judy wants to do is to raise endorphin levels by selling her cookies.
When you look at the list of brainstormed tasks, how many of them are essential to selling those magical cookies?
Hint: Very few.
When I put on my clarity goggles, here’s what I see as the shortest path:
Get a domain, hosting and install WordPress (excellent help is available if she needs it)
Get a Paypal account
Gather testimonials by sending out some “review batches” to her network
Put testimonials, descriptions and Paypal buttons on the site
Tell people on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or her email network that the cookies are available.
Optional: She could spend a few minutes photographing her cookies with her point-and-shoot camera to see if the pictures are good enough. If not, scrap them.
Judy wants to sell her cookies, right?
With the steps above, she can send people to a website where they can read about the cookies, what other people have experienced by eating them, and they can send her money to get the cookies.
(Technically, she could do it even more simply, but what I’ve listed above strikes a balance between the shortest path and also allowing plenty of room for growth.)
The rest of the brainstormed tasks can come much later, and she can have the experience (and pleasure) of getting more of her cookies into more hands sooner.
But it’s not that simple!
Actually, it is that simple, but it probably doesn’t feel that way.
That feeling of wanting to slam on the brakes when presented with a simple solution? That’s most likely the real resistance – the fears and doubts that come up when it’s time to Do the Thing.
And that’s okay. It’s normal for resistance to come up. It doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
The beauty of it is that now you know what you’re dealing with and you can work on addressing the resistance you actually feel.
Some places to start
What do you do once you’ve cleared the decoys and know there’s some real resistance that you need to work with?
First off, be kind to yourself.
Gathering information can be a great place to start:
(And a bonus question: What would make it a No-Brainer to move forward? I’ll bet you didn’t know the No-Brainer Scenario technique could be used that way, but that’s one of the examples in my upcoming ebook. Be sure to join the Shmorian Society to be the first to get it.)
How about you?
What are you working on?
What do you notice about decoys that get in the way?
What’s the real resistance underneath?
And most importantly, how can I help?