I got this question from a client and thought we could stir up some spicy conversation here today. I’ll share my thoughts, and I can’t wait to hear yours.
“I definitely need to keep/stay focused. I am easily distracted with all my emails and social media nonsense. I’m not consistent and work “when I feel like it” – which isn’t a good way to get things done. If you have any words of wisdom for actually sitting down to create and work, I’m all ears. It’s definitely my achilles heel.”
Oh, the opinions people have about this subject.
“Do only what feels good.”
And it’s opposite:
“Put yourself on a 9-5 schedule just like you’re working a job.”
Really? How are you supposed to navigate this dilemma with polar opposite advice like that?
That’s why I prefer a more balanced approach and some practical techniques. (Are you surprised?) Here’s what I told my client.
The Secrets to Working When You Want AND Staying Focused
You can both work when you want AND stay focused… sort of. Here’s how I find my balance.
Step 1. Notice Resistance
Sometimes resistance to working isn’t about the work. It’s about the fear of being more visible, taking risks, or going bigger in business. Not wanting to work can be your mind’s way of playing it safe.
If you don’t feel like working, see if it’s resistance’s way of protecting you.
If it is, acknowledge it. Resistance is part of life and business. It happens, but it doesn’t have to completely stop you from moving forward.
Whether resistance is the culprit or not, the next step is to look at your values.
Step 2. Consider Your Values
When you’re facing the focus-versus-feeling dilemma, check in with your values, meaning what’s important to you.
Which takes priority: not working now because you don’t feel like it or reaching your long term goals?
Do you want to play it safe in this moment or support yourself financially in the long run?
Does that push your buttons? Good! It’s important to notice that the struggle you’re feeling is asking you to look deeper into what you want most.
Maybe playing it save versus supporting yourself financially isn’t your current conundrum. That’s fine. Notice your inner values conflict and see if you can sort them out.
You may decide that taking care of yourself right now by not working is the best move. Or, you may be willing to move through the resistance to focus on the tasks at hand.
If you decide to move forward and need some incentive, I strongly recommend bribery.
Step 3. Use Bribery
When I’m struggling to do something I know will catapult my business forward, I’ll find a juicy reward to help me get it done. I strongly recommend you use bribery, too.
Last fall I made a big list-building push and for each guest post I wrote, I rewarded myself with a piece of new clothing. (I had been on a tight budget for so long that I really needed some non-holey jeans and sweaters.) Clothes were the perfect reward because I knew that each guest post brought in a new client, meaning I could afford the new item, plus clothes had been something I hadn’t been willing to splurge on for quite some time.
Choose a reward commensurate with the task at hand. Maybe it’s a truffle from your favorite chocolatier or a sweater from that cute new boutique. If it feels like a little splurge and gets you working, perfect!
Finding the Balance
I choose to honor both working when I feel like it and focusing on what I want to achieve. This means some days I work 2 hours and other days I work 8. Some days I goof off and some days I’m hyper-focused.
If you’re feeling the push-pull of working when you want versus staying focused, you’re not alone. People who yearn for the freedom of entrepreneurship are often drawn to the idea of working when they want to. And, working only when you want to can leave your dreams as only dreams.
Next time you’re stuck, steal a page from my book: notice resistance, consider your values, and use bribery when needed. Tweet that!
With these tools in your toolbox, you’ll navigate your right path correctly every time.
I started this article knowing that everyone has their on take on the focus-versus-feeling dilemma. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I know we can each improve our own approach by learning from each other.
In the comments below, tell me …
Do you struggle with these two seemingly opposite points of view?
How you navigate focus-versus-feeling?
Do you have any advice that may help others facing this dilemma?
I can’t wait to hear your experiences and ideas so we can all learn from them. Thanks in advance for sharing!