You’ve procrastinated all morning. You keep checking your inbox or Instagram feed and haven’t touched that project you’ve been meaning to work on. One more cup of coffee. One more like on Facebook. You’re staring at the staircase and then looking down at your phone to see if there is one more thing that you can use to distract yourself from actually, finally taking that step.
This has been me this morning. I have set this time aside to write and all I want to do is putz around. I keep opening my inbox thinking, “What are you doing here again? Get to work!” I am never going to get to the top of the stairs unless I at least start.
So here are some things to keep in mind to get you going:
- Time blocks. What really got me writing this morning was knowing that this was my time block to write. I have a commitment to myself that I will get a post done by noon on the weekends. It’s now 10:39 AM and I have to start. I have to spend at least 30 minutes on it even if I have no idea what I am going to write. So I write. I know some of my clients have set up time blocks for returning phone calls, responding to emails, exercising and being with their families. Set up time blocks and make a commitment to your work.
- Have a vision. What does the top of the stairs look like to you? My vision is “Make a difference in people’s lives”. Writing these posts aligns with that vision. Even if one person reads this post and changes one thing in their life because of it, then it’s worth 45 minutes of my time to make that happen. Know why you are doing what you are doing and align your efforts with it. How will that production report affect your organization? How will that conversation with your co-worker move you forward in attaining your vision? Line up your actions with your vision.
- Frequently the steps aren’t easy. I have struggled with this. When I was in Paris earlier this year, I ended up having to take a spiral staircase to many of my destinations. I’m really tall and have large feet, so trudging up a small spiral staircase is not only difficult but I can’t see the top. When we were visiting Sainte-Chapelle (a cathedral built in 1248), my friend and Francophile, Susannah, pointed to a very narrow stone spiral staircase to travel up. I figured there is no way this building (built 8 centuries ago) is worth being claustrophobic or on my tip toes for. I was wrong. Against my better judgment, I followed Susannah up the staircase. The top of the stairs revealed one of the most heart-stopping, breathtaking, stained glass-encrusted spaces I have ever been in. Take the steps–the view may surprise you.
- Step into fear. My friend Janine and I went to the Eiffel Tower the day after the Brussel airport bombing. We had tickets to what I thought would be the 1st landing of the tower. I’m not crazy about heights and I figured that would work just fine. It turns out we had tickets to the top. When we got to the top, there was another staircase to go up. Janine was game to go up and I was fine where I was. She ran up the stairs and came back down to get me. “Cath, you gotta come!” I stepped into my fear, took the steps and saw a Paris I will never forget. If I reframed it as a challenge rather than a fear, it became much easier to conquer.
- Have support. I’ve already shown you two examples where my friends have supported me in venturing up staircases with terrific results. These same friends are in “Cathy’s Brain Trust” and they give me weekly feedback on my posts. I feel accountable to them to continue to write. Who is depending on you? Who are you supported by? When pushing through to your highest aspirations, you need to make sure you have support. My daughter is part of that group and she knows me well. Writing is definitely a challenge and I know she’s always cheering me on.
- Be open to the unknown. Frequently we don’t know exactly where we are headed. We have a vision but there is so much that is unseen from the bottom of the staircase. My friend Susannah and I were hiking in Haystack State Park. At the end of the hike was Haystack Tower…with a spiral staircase no less. It was a hot, humid day and I think the last thing I wanted to do was go up the tower’s two flights of stairs. Susannah assured me that the views were at the top of the tower. So-you guessed it-I went up the two flights and the payoff was a view of three states at once: MA, CT and NY. Stick it out and it will pay off.
- One step at a time. Many times I have clients who are frozen from being overwhelmed. They want to take action, but when they decide they want to write a book, it’s paralyzing. They can’t take any step because a step like “write a book” is not easily done in a morning. The key is to break it down into chunks. Bite-size chunks like “write an outline”, “decide what software to use” or “research books on writing non-fiction for one hour”. Break it down one step at a time so that the step can be accomplished in 90 minutes or less.
This isn’t always easy when there are so many distractions in life. It’s easy to think that skimming through and putting out fires is getting you to where you want to go. Figure out which staircase you want to go up and start with one small step. The view from the top is going to be awesome.