What If You Just Did What You’re Supposed To?

What If You Just Did What You’re Supposed To?

I learned how to change my own oil last year. It was a pretty big moment for a guy that needs an assistant to heat up his lunch properly.

But rather than the prototypical father-son bonding exercise most of us would picture when imagining such learning experiences. My education took a different shape. I Youtube’d it. Just watched a video and learned how to do it in like five minutes. Then I watched the related videos and learned how to do a bunch of other stuff. The reason I’m telling you this story isn’t just because I like talking about my Master Mechanic’s education, but also to make a point about the ease by which we’re able to access information and transform that knowledge into action. The speed by which the modern man is capable of implementing new ideas is amazing at least, Matrix-esque at best. Gone are the days when acquiring a new skill was a pre-requisite to actually using it. The current era is all about taking the leap, and building the plane on the way down. 

For entrepreneurs in the beginning phases of a new venture, this can be thrilling news. The ability to innovate, iterate and work efficiently while gathering knowledge and immediately taking action speeds up the feedback loop and has resulted in the most incredible product landscape the world has ever seen. But, as with any advancement, there are side effects to this kind of progress.

The fact is, as the barriers to entry are reduced, so are the favorite excuses we like to make about why we’re not able to accomplish our goals. Because even when we know what we’re doing, it takes a lot of hard work. We’re asked to sacrifice a lot in the name of personal achievement. Time that could be spent on the couch or in bed. So it makes life easier knowing that we don’t possess the necessary resources to realize our vision.

But what happens when we don’t have that excuse? What happens when the only thing we need to be successful in our endeavors is a bit of resourcefulness and the will to take massive action? This is the litmus test facing today’s entrepreneur. The barriers have been removed, the tools are readily available, all he has to do is take action.

Still, for some of us, taking action means staying busy with any and everything but what we need to be doing. We keep ourselves occupied with task-oriented nonsense in order to distract ourselves from the lingering idea that work is just hard and we don’t particularly care for the grind of it. And that’s certainly a relatable outlook, it just won’t get you very far. So instead, ask yourself this…what if you just did what you’re supposed to do?

I mean it. What if you just woke up tomorrow and did exactly what you knew you needed to do that day to move closer to your goal? Is it scheduling a meeting that’s way out of your comfort zone? Trying to raise capital for a project? Or simply getting yourself to the gym for a solid workout? 

What if you did everything on your to-do list? No exceptions. How would that feel? Would it hurt? Would you find yourself riling in pain, regretting the fateful moment when you tried to accomplish something of value? Or would it feel good? Would it satisfy you? Prove that you have nothing to be scared of and leave you hungry for more?

The amount of excuses we’re reasonably allowed to make is in direct proportion to the amount of resources readily available to us. That ratio is quickly becoming distinctly lopsided. There are simply too many resources readily available to us to make excuses for not, at the very least, moving in the right direction each day. It’s a lack of sheer will that holds us back.

So make today the day. The day you take action. The day you leave it all out on the field. The day you throw away the excuses and embrace the fact that the only thing standing in your way, is you. 

Take that massive action. You’re bound to wake up to a more fulfilling tomorrow.

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Five Productivity Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

Avoid Productivity Tasks

Five Productivity Pitfalls (And How to Avoid Them)

At the time of writing I’ve been sitting in front of a blank white screen for over an hour, without typing a word. I know what I want to say. I have a very specific vision for this piece. But I just haven’t been able to execute at the level to which I’m accustomed. I haven’t been able to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper in an orderly fashion. And with each passing moment I become more frustrated and less motivated to finish this piece at all. I keep telling myself this is an inconsequential article, that I can just come back to it tomorrow, or the next day, and no one would know the difference.

See the problem is, the Yankees/Astros game is on TV in the background, and while mid-June blowouts are not of particular interest to me on their own, it’s more than enough of a distraction to extinguish just about any reasonable chance I have of making some real headway here. If I was just relaxing in front of the TV right now I’d be watching something else. But since I don’t really feel like writing, I’m suddenly way too invested in watching Giancarlo Stanton rope one into the left field corner for his first hit since returning from the IL.

My condition, as unnervingly self-abusive as it may seem, is far from uncommon. Though it manifests in myriad ways, this form of procrastination is perhaps the most detrimental inhibitor of productive action. The kind of distraction that isn’t abrupt or jarring, it’s so subtle that we barely notice. It’s the white noise we don’t realize is there until it envelopes us, knocks us unconscious and leaves us for dead. Only for us to awake in a haze, hours later, astonished at how much time has gone by and how much we still have left to do.

The fact is, the biggest obstacles that stand between us and our most productive selves are normally the hardest to see. That’s what makes them so hard to overcome. We often don’t even see them as obstacles, but rather important tasks that no one else can do but us. Lying to ourselves in order to avoid the things we know we really should be doing. Let’s take a look at five of the most common hinderances to our productivity and how we can avoid them.

1. Phone Overuse

Forgive me for stating the most obvious first, but it’s worth mentioning as, for most of us, our phones are a hell of a lot more distracting than we tend to realize. When it comes to phone usage, we’re probably more hypocritical than in any other area of our lives. We’re constantly complaining about entire generations of people being so distracted by their devices that they no longer possess the skills to interact in any meaningful way. And then we air our grievances on the matter…using our phones…to post to social media…rather than talking face to face.

Device distraction syndrome is almost never intentional. We want to be good, we want to get done everything we said we would that day. We simply find ourselves ambling through our apps or scrolling timelines, without really knowing how or why we got there. Whether we’re reading about important world news or simply checking to see if it’s going to rain this weekend, there’s always one little reason to sneak a quick peak. 

But it’s in those moments, those fleeting, almost unconscious moments, that our momentum is crushed. Our minds now buzzing with whatever stimuli we just took a fresh hit of, we must now start the process of getting back on course all over again. Or we don’t try, and just kick the can down the road for another day.

If you want to check out just how much time you’re spending on your phone check out the Moment App. If you want to restrict access to your most distracting apps check out Offtime.

2. Poor Environment

One of the easiest pieces of the productivity puzzle to overlook is the environment in which we’re attempting to do our best work. As I mentioned earlier, distractions are rarely obvious. More often than not our productivity unravels around a string of small, momentary disruptions that add up to a major roadblock in our day. Your environment plays a huge part in how often those disruptions occur, and how they’re managed when they do.

Take stock of the environment in which you attempt to be at your most productive. Is it conducive to the mindset you need to be in to produce? What would need to change to make it that way? How about the people around you? Are there clear boundaries set with them? Do they know and respect your availability?

You would be amazed at how a few simple conversations with colleagues, friends, or loved ones that don’t realize their behavior is distracting can effect your bottom line.

3. Email

This one just became personal, because I just did it, just now. I had my email open in another tab, saw that I had received a new message, clicked over, saw it was garbage, trashed it, clicked back, completely lost my train of thought.

It’s just so easy to sit there and attack every message as it comes in throughout the day. Especially for us that work in industries where they can really pile up. Stop yourself, be strong. Toughen up your mindset and accept the fact that, unless you’re a world-leader, no one’s likely going to even notice if you don’t respond for a few hours.

Close the tab and get your work done.

4. Doing Too Much

Here’s the reality, there are very few things, if any, that only you are capable of doing. In fact, I would venture to guess that a lot of the things you think only you can do can actually be done better by someone else. But as leaders it can sometimes be hard for us to see it that way. When your paycheck depends on the performance of other people it can be tough to loosen your grip and let the reigns go. But here’s the thing, you only got to where you are by moving forward, continuing to spend time doing things that can be delegated will stop you from moving any further. You need to lead. To pour into others so the team can run like the machine you’ve envisioned.

Take a deep breath, and let go.

 5. Doing the Wrong Things

Real estate agents have an insane fascination with their personal brand. They’ll spend months at a time pouring over revisions, requesting logo changes, swapping color schemes, all for a logo that, frankly, no one cares about. Like literally no one. After nearly a decade in the real estate business I think I’ve finally handed out my tenth business card.

It’s not that those things aren’t important, they’re just not as important as, you know, actually doing work. But we often use task-oriented work as a way to distract ourselves from the fact that we really have no idea what to do. Or don’t want to do what we know we have to.

When we’re brand new to the real estate business we spend countless hours perfecting the look of our Facebook business page because going out and forming new relationships is out of our comfort zone. We tell ourselves we’re not ready to dive in because haven’t even come up with a good slogan for our brand.

This lack of  prioritization is lethal to any new business. If you don’t know what you need to be doing, seek guidance and find out rather than doing things to distract from that feeling of despondence. And if you’re avoiding what you should really be doing, stop it. Do what you’re supposed to, you know better than that, you read my blog. 

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Get weekly, actionable advice, hacks and best practices for overall awesomeness!

More articles from Brian:

Advice
Brian Force

Self-Importance and the Death of Success

It’s counterintuitive to say the least, but I fundamentally believe that the best advice anyone can give on the topic is to remember that humanity does not exist to feed your desire for positive attention. Conversely, it doesn’t exist to deny it, either. That’s something to embrace. Because it means that failure is simply a matter of perception, rather than fact. We can only fail if we accept that as the case.

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Brian Force

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