Last Thursday I hosted my very first live careers event, 5 Practical Steps to Create a Career You Love. I have to admit I was a little nervous beforehand as it’s the first time I’ve run that type of workshop to a group of professionals, so it was nice to get one successfully under my belt!
I shared 5 insights on what I found particularly helpful in my career change, hoping to get people thinking how they might be able to get more from their own careers. One of these steps was about learning how to take action even when you don’t feel like it. This is something I’ve had to become better at recently; setting up my career coaching business while working full time in a busy day job. At first I found it difficult to make the progress I wanted, as I was so tired at the end of the day, I often wanted to relax with Netfix and some wine.
Motivation is often talked about as being a pre-requisite to taking action towards your goals, and is seen a very valid reason to explain to ourselves why we haven’t done something. I read a lot about motivation while studying for my executive coaching qualification, and came across a theory that stated we shouldn’t expect to feel motivated before we take action towards our goals. In fact, if we push ourselves to spend a small amount of time on our goals (even 10 or 20 minutes) we’re more likely to either continue working on it for longer than we planned, or we’re more likely to keep the momentum going with another 10 or 20 minutes the next night.
I found I would often procrastinate the parts of setting up a business that I found the least interesting. I would always be happy to coach or read an interesting professional development book after work, but I found working on the technical side of my website a little boring, and would not feel like putting the hours in during my evenings and weekends. At first, I let my feeling of tiredness direct when I did and didn’t put the work in. When I first started work on my website I would work sporadically, and once I got out of the routine I could let weeks pass by without looking at it again. As time ticked by, my lack of progress would frustrate me and make me feel even less like working on it.
Once I started experimenting with working on my website in tiny bite-size chunks, even when I was tired and didn’t feel like it, I broke the habit loop and negative thinking surrounding it. My commitment to my bigger goal of becoming a coach and wanting to get my website completed could override my feelings of not feeling like doing it.
I learnt that rather than expecting motivation to lead to action, I could decide what I was committed to and take action first. As a result of starting the action, I felt more motivated, more committed to my goals, and started to form a new habit. One of the great things about this trick is you can break things down into really tiny steps if you need to. One evening I just switched on my computer, looked at my homepage, and switched it off again. I didn’t beat myself up for being lazy, and managed to make a lot more progress the following evening.
I hope you have a great week, and are able to push yourself to take a step (no matter how small) towards something you’ve been putting off recently!
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