Taking On A Challenge

One of the attributes that I have as a person is that I tend not to need external factors to motivate me to do something.  I’m good at deciding to do something and then just getting on with it.  I’m stubborn and determined enough to take on a goal and see it through to the end.

Lately, I’ve been busy and mentally a bit run down when it comes time to work on Casual Marketer.  When you combine the travel I’m doing in my day job, the volume of projects I’ve got on at work, running our SEO and Content business plus the newsletter and the daily emails for Casual Marketer, I’m pretty much mentally spent most of the time.

A few weeks ago though I wrote about how I felt that my time management wasn’t as good as it could be, that I was spending a lot of time inefficiently.  When I was writing yesterday’s email about running in quicksand, that metaphor really resonated with me because that’s how I’ve been feeling it a bit lately too.

When those two things combined; being busy and not being effective with my time, I’ve noticed myself drifting into a bit of a cynical lull.  It happens to all of us from time to time, but it actually exacerbates the issues because you become jaded atop everything else.

That’s not a good state to be productive and you’ve got to snap out of it or you’ll just get further and further down the hole.

Frankly, that’s bad for business.

So today I decided to do something about it and I broke ranks with my normal way of behaving.  I figured I needed some kind of pattern interrupt to get myself moving forward again across everything that I’m working on, but particularly, I wanted to drive the Casual Marketer business in the right direction.

To make that happen, I went into a Facebook Group that I’m in and I set a public challenge for everyone in the group to improve their business by setting some SMART goals for themselves and executing on those.

If you’re not familiar with the idea of SMART goals, it’s a mnemonic acronym that is used in performance and project management.  It stands for:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time related

I’m generally not into these cliched systems, but SMART is a strategy I’ve used repeatedly throughout most of my career when managing the performance of myself and my teams.  The whole thing just works for me, setting specific, achievable, realistic goals that you can measure and put a time against.  It’s a framework that keeps me focused, particularly with projects and initiatives.

With the challenge I’ve set for the group, I’ve put forward a time frame for the next six weeks for everybody to identify a high-level goal and work on achieving it.  I’ve positioned it as a process of “Plan, Execute, Refine and Scale” because again, for an online business that’s a great way to get results – you put an idea together, get it up and running, improve it based on market feedback and then when you get it right you scale it up.

I’ve named the challenge “6 Weeks of Growth” and we’re using the hashtag #6WOG in our group, but there’s nothing to stop people from using it on Twitter and elsewhere.  I’m not a huge fan of accountability groups because I firmly believe if you’re running a business, you should adult enough to hold yourself accountable, but I’ve encouraged everyone in the group to share their goals and journey.  The idea is that some people need that public accountability, but I also think it is a great learning experience – we get to watch each other and see what we’re doing to grow our businesses.

My goal is that by the end of six weeks, I want to add 200 new leads to my Casual Marketer email list.  I’m going to achieve that by improving my optin process, creating new lead magnets and being more aggressive with my outreach efforts to start appearing on people’s podcasts and other shows.

I also posted my first step and that swings us back around to the issue around time management and being more efficient that I was talking about above.  I think that if I can get my time under more control and be more structured then despite the restrictions on my time and the current workload, I should be able to get more done and move forward more effectively.

It’s the old cliche, work smarter not harder.

So my first step was to start using the Bullet Journal system.  As most of you know, I like analogue stuff and the idea of having a paper-based task management system really appeals to me because I find the process of reading and writing in a book far more impactful.  I’d been contemplating adopting the Bullet Journal system for the past few weeks now and have watched a ton of videos on it.

I’d say that the number one thing that held me back from using it sooner was that almost every video I’ve seen looks like it’s been created by some kind of graphic artist as a side hobby.  The level of decoration and visual style that some of these people put into these things are outrageous… And I found it really intimidating.  I can’t draw anything, I don’t doodle and I’m very straightforward, so all of the style and panache people put into their Bullet Journal made me think that maybe it wasn’t for me.

Interestingly, it was actually just a case of following my own advice that ultimately threw me over the edge.  One of the guys I work with a couple weeks ago got fed up with trying to use apps and stuff to manage his tasks and time.  I suggested he try Bullet Journal as an alternative.  I saw him on Thursday carrying around this red notebook and he’d implemented it successfully – he loved it.

I figured at that point I may as well give it a try.

I ended up going back this afternoon to the main Bullet Journal site, watching the videos on their site and sticking to the basics.  No doodling, no washi tape or coloured pens, just a simple, clean system for tracking what I’m supposed to be doing.  Watching the simplistic version of Bullet Journal cleared my mind of all the noise and within an hour, I was setting up my notebook.

It’s funny because I already feel more focused and organized.  I know tomorrow the things I want to get done and they’re broken down into bite-sized pieces.  It was cathartic to just be able to do a brain dump onto paper in an organized way.  In a fraction of the time of what I normally work on a Saturday on the business, I got several additional things done.

So let me put it out there, why don’t you play along at home?  You can join the “6 Weeks of Growth” challenge in your business.  Set yourself a SMART goal, put together a strategy to “Plan, Execute, Refine and Scale” and start driving your business forward.  Feel free to send me an email and share with me your goals and updates simply by replying to this email or you can use the hashtag #6WOG on Facebook or Twitter.

You’re in control of your outcomes, so take up the challenge and spend the next six weeks growing your business.

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