Avoiding something? 15 ways to get started so you can get it done

Is there a goal, task, or action you’d do anything to avoid if you could?

Stop resisting, procrastinating, and trying to wish the task away.

Here are a few ways to get started so you can get that work done:

1. Get excited about it.
There’s probably something good about the experience (even if it’s just that you get to scratch it off the to-do list when you’re done).

2. See yourself doing it, and completing it.
Envision the work underway, going well, and see yourself finishing easily. Imagine, also, that if things do crop up that you didn’t expect, you’ll handle them calmly and effectively.

3. Set a goal or milestone. Set a series of them.
Focus on the next milestone and getting that done. Then work on the next one.

4. Plan a reward. Plan a series of them.
Work your way through the task you’d like to toss by pacing yourself with appropriate rewards. Move well – and steadily – through the tasks between here and successfully crossing the finish line.

5. Start focusing on the next thing on the to-do list.
Notice what else needs to be done. Focus a little less on this task and notice what work it’s blocking that may be even more important.

6.  Pay more attention to it.
Look more closely at the task. You may notice things you hadn’t noticed before that appeal to you.

7. Pay less attention to it.
Maybe you’re paying too much attention to some details and immobilizing yourself. Focus a little less, if this is the case. Keep the big picture and long-term perspective in mind.

8. Sneak up on yourself.
Sometimes we intimidate ourselves. Get out of your own way. Let the work through. Almost before you realize it, the work will be underway. Suddenly, seemingly, it will be done.

9.  Cut the drama. Just do it.
Sometimes being a little stern with yourself will do the trick. At other times (and most times, as a matter of fact) encourage yourself as you work and learn. You’re likely to get the most and best work out of yourself this way.

10. “Work. Relax. Don’t think.”
That’s writer Ray Bradbury’s advice. Just start working. Relax as you do. Let instinct, and prior experience with this task, if you have it help you get moving well beyond it.

11. Use this as a chance to learn something new.
Make this a learning laboratory for new skills, in some way, if you can.

12. Add something to make it more enjoyable.
Maybe you can change the location of the work, or the order in which the work is done. Maybe you can add a new person to the team, if a group of people is doing the work.

13. Take something away to make it simpler.
Make the work flow simpler if you can, or use a smaller team of people to get the work done if the team and task are getting too complicated.

14. Focus on the things that could go right.
It’s easy to plan in such a detailed fashion that you see all the problems that might occur. Focus on the things that might go very well, and how you’ll be prepared if they don’t.

15. Focus on how you’ll feel when you get the task done.
Keep that good feeling in mind as you work your way through the task. And then enjoy that finished feeling, fully, when you get to that point.

Take the first step to change – accept what is

The first step in changing something – anything, really – is accepting what the current situation is.

It’s not always easy. But it is one of the most powerful steps to actual, sustainable change if that’s what you really want.

Here are a few steps to take to accept where you really are, and the situation you’re really in, whatever it is. Ask yourself these questions:

1. What seems to be true, even though I may not want it to be so?

2. How do I know? What are the facts? (The facts may not be fun at this point, but you never know. Find out).

3. Does the situation still look the same, now that I have the facts?

4. What do I want, instead?

5. What’s the gap between what is, and what I wish were true?

And then, get ready to move beyond acceptance. Ask yourself these things:

6. Can I close that gap? If so, what will it take from me?

7. How can I make the change in the best possible way?

Understand.

Accept.

Be with what is.

Let it be to let it go.

You have the power to move beyond, to make “what is,” “what was.”

But first you have to accept.

Are you reading the signs of change right?

A single sign of change can mean very different things to different people.

How you interpret that sign can lead to radically different decisions about what action you need to take next.

The benefits of being right when you read that sign correctly can be great.

The consequences of being wrong can be very high, as well.

In an everyday example recently, our cat returned sick from the kitty kennel where he’d been staying while we were on vacation.

Shadow was sneezing, having trouble breathing and showing signs of distress, though he’d been fine when we dropped him off. And we’d used this kennel before, and had had no problems with it.

Our dilemma was to decide whether we could let the cat ride the illness out and get healthy on his own, or whether we needed to get him to the vet in what might be a very expensive and unnecessary visit.

To complicate our reading of situation, it’s significant to know that the cat is 16 1/2 years old…very old for a cat.

We’ve had very good – and very feisty – years with him but we want even more.

And on top of that, Shadow and our son, now 18 and a college freshman who lives several hours away, grew up together.

Matt can’t imagine life without the cat, or our two dogs…and isn’t ready to get a call so soon after leaving home to hear that one of his beloved pets is gone.

Aggressive measures, if need be, were in order, for a variety of reasons.

Before the story completely unfolded, four people were involved in reading the signs, and making the call.

- The kennel owner thought the cat would be fine without the vet visit.

- My husband did, too – or hoped that would be the case.

- I hoped we could avoid a vet visit, too, but when I watched the cat’s labored breathing, I knew we had to get him into the vet as soon as possible.

- The vet initially thought Shadow had heart failure, given his signs and previous history, and gently warned me before he took an x-ray that the cat might not be long for this world.

How did the story play out?

The cat has a serious upper respiratory infection, and is on a long course of penicillin.

To survive the worst days of this medical adventure, he had to be force-fed his medicine, water and food.

He’s weaker, and bowed but not broken. And we are all wiser to the reality of his long-term condition.

We are so thankful he’s still around, as is his best friend in the family, our son.

What did we learn from this adventure?

1.  Keep an eye on the big picture.

The cat IS an old cat. We must finally admit that. Still, we aren’t ready to let him go, if we don’t have to.

2.  Know what the significant details are. Pay attention to them.

The key signs in this situation included the cat’s very labored breathing, food and water that he wasn’t taking in or wasn’t holding onto, and his lack of awareness, generally, of what was going on around him.

3.  Watch for trends.

We watched the signs closely to see if the cat was getting better or worse. I was watching him very closely, so could tell when there were changes more easily than my husband could, who was watching him from a greater distance.

4. Know whose opinion to value the most, when many opinions are offered.

When we got to the vet’s office, he had the data about the cat’s health, of course, thanks to his experience and a few expensive tests and an x-ray.

He didn’t know how important the cat is to our freshman son who, a few hours away, didn’t have a chance to say good-bye, if that were necessary.

5. Know what the worst-case scenario could be, and what the early signs are likely to be.

The fact that the cat was not taking any any food, medicine or water on his own was a sign that we might not be able to save him. It meant force-feeding to prevent a dire outcome, if need be.

6. Know what the best case scenario could be, and what early signs are that things may have taken a great turn.

We hoped to see the cat’s normal fight and feistiness, and we’re seeing it now. That first slightly ticked-off tail switching when he didn’t want to take the medicine? It was wonderful to see.

7. Remain flexible.

The vet gave us a diagnosis, prognosis, medicine, and long-term advice. He didn’t advise us what to do if the cat couldn’t keep anything down, and may have thought the cat might not survive this bout.

Even though the cat wasn’t fighting for himself, at that point, we had to fight for him. We tried meat-flavored baby food delivered through the medicine dispenser, a device something like a little turkey baster.

That worked, and gave him enough nutrition that he turned the corner.

8. Celebrate small signs of success, if you’re working out of a difficult situation.

I never thought that after our great vacation, we’d come home to find the cat dancing at death’s door, as it seems he did. We celebrated each small sign of progress, and continue to.

At this point we know our often-ornery feline friend will, thankfully, be around a little while longer.

Find the rate of change that works best for you

Change is inevitable.

And because it is, the better you learn to accept and work with change, the better it will work for you.

One way is to find your best rate of change.

Then find ways to modulate or speed up future change so that it happens (or seems to happen) at the rate that works best for you.

Here are a few steps you can use to do that:

1. Recall past times of change.

Remember circumstances when you:

- Felt fully alive, very engaged and interested in what was going on around you.

- Felt overwhelmed.

- Were bored, and felt that life might never, ever change.

2. Remember what was happening in each case.

- What was the circumstance?

- Was change occurring in that situation?

- Was it happening fast, at a nearly perfect speed, or far too slowly (or perhaps, not at all)?

- Were the changes ones you sought, or changes that happened to you?

3. Recall how you responded each time.

- How did you feel about the changes that were underway?

- What did you do to handle each circumstance – speeding it up or slowing it down?

- Was each approach effective? In other words, were you able to do your best work in each circumstance, despite how you felt about the situation?

4. Knowing what you know now, plan ahead for how you can handle future times of change.

- How could you have improved the way you handled difficult circumstances of change, particularly feelings of a) great overwhelm and b) great boredom?

- What were your best ways of handling difficult circumstances, such as when change seemed to be happening too fast, and when it was unfolding too slowly?

By noticing and reinforcing your skills of adapting to undesirable rates of change, you’ll increase your ability to manage and adapt well when such circumstances happen again.

For like it or not, change often happens at its own too-fast or too-slow rate.

Learn how to manage yourself best in each case so you can work well with it.

And as you consider these experiences of change and how you handled them, consider these thoughts:

When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take – choose the bolder.
William Joseph Slim

Perhaps the greatest gifts to creativity are time, problems and deadlines.
David Baird

Grow new opportunities

Watching the Olympics drives the lesson home:

You make many of your own opportunities, and for others, adapting well to whatever happens is the best course.

Here's what a few others have to say about opportunities and growth:

You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do.
Henry Ford

Life is not advancement. It is growth. It does not move upward, but expands outward, in all directions.
Russell G. Alexander

A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
Sir Francis Bacon

Customer feedback is a good thing (really)

How is your customer support staff viewed in your company?

As the clean-up crew?

Hopefully not.

They are, in fact, stewards of gold.

The information they have from customers – if you choose to use it in this way – can provide you invaluable information about current products and services and how they really work (or not).

The information they can collect – if you seek it – can also provide great ideas for future products and sources of revenue.

Here’s how others see customers’ perspective and the information they can provide:

In the end, the customer doesn’t know, or care, if you are small or large as an organization…she or he only focuses on the garment hanging on the rail in the store.
Giorgio Armani

Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships.
Michael Dell

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
Bill Gates

I think we’re having fun. I think our customers really like our products. And we’re always trying to do better.
Steve Jobs

Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.
Zig Ziglar

Facts don’t lie…unless you try to make the facts dance

Facts don’t lie.

Unless you make facts dance, as Mark Twain suggests, below.

Here are a few thoughts on taking measurements, using them, and not leaving things up to chance:

There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.
Enrico Fermi

The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor; he took my measurement anew every time he saw me, while all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.
George Bernard Shaw

First get your facts; then you can distort them at your leisure.
Mark Twain

Solutions

Sometimes you find solutions to problems.

Sometimes you create them.

Here's a range of perspectives on making a new and better way:

You won't find a solution by saying there is no problem.

William Rotsler

You can simplify and simplify and simplify yet still find other incredible ways to simplify further.
Steve Wozniak

Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution. If you don't have any problems, you don't get any seeds.
Norman Vincent Peale

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
Abraham Maslow

I now know that I learn by solving problems as they arise. Rarely do we learn significant lessons, or significantly improve, any other way.
Bob Parsons

Sometimes the situation is only a problem because it is looked at in a certain way. Looked at in another way, the right course of action may be so obvious that the problem no longer exists.
Edward de Bono

I think the next best thing to solving a problem is finding some humor in it.
Frank A. Clark

Let the numbers speak for themselves

Data and information – planning what you need to gather, getting it, analyzing it, using it for decisions – is part of the great game of business.

Some like the process of data gathering, and finding out what the numbers mean.

Others would rather try to make the numbers dance to the story they want to tell.

In the end, whether data will enliven and enlighten your business depends on your ability and willingness (or sometimes, courage) to see and take action on what the numbers really mean.

Here's a range of opinions about data, information, and using it effectively:

The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession.
Sherlock Holmes

I don't see the logic of rejecting data just because they seem incredible.
Fred Hoyle

Intuition becomes increasingly valuable in the new information society precisely because there is so much data.
John Naisbitt

Data is not information. Information is not knowledge. Knowledge is not understanding. Understanding is not wisdom.
Unknown

Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.
Charles Babbage

Education is not the piling on of learning, information, data, facts,
skills, or abilities – that's training or instruction – but is rather
making visible what is hidden as a seed.
Thomas More

No great marketing decisions have ever been made on quantitative data.
John Scully

Analytical software enables you to shift human resources from rote data collection to value-added customer service and support where the human touch makes a profound difference.
Bill Gates

Too often we forget that genius, too, depends upon the data within its reach, that even Archimedes could not have devised Edison's inventions.
Ernest Dimnet


Time for a learning tune-up?

For many people, it's September, not January, that feels like the start of a new year.

That new school year feeling – well, it's just hard to shake.

Pause for a quick review or tune-up of your learning plan for the year ahead.

Start here:

1. What skills or knowledge do you want to add between now and next September?

2. What skills or knowledge can you let go, if they're now out of date?

Sometimes to make room for new, we have to let go of knowledge we no longer need.

3. Are there things you must learn this year, like it or not?

Sometimes the learning we want to do brings with it prerequisites we're not very excited about. How will you fit that less interesting but necessary learning into your schedule?

Here's what others advise about the important subject of learning and mastery:

The too soft teacher reinforces the learner's natural wish to retreat and stay safe. The teacher must know when to let the learner struggle. Risk brings its own rewards.
Marilyn Ferguson

The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.
Dee Hock

What we want to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.
G B Shaw

Treat people as if they were what they might be, and you will help them become capable of being.
Goethe

The germ of an idea doesn't make the sculpture that stands up. The next stage is hard work.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

All learning begins when our comfortable ideas turn out to be inadequate.
John Dewey