By no means have I somehow “arrived” when it comes to productivity. I know plenty of people who inspire me with how much they are able to get done and keep in balance.
I do alright though. When people ask me how I’m able to get so much done or continue pushing myself entrepreneurially, I have an atypical answer.
I back myself into a corner.
Think about an animal like a raccoon, possum, or a cat – a normally skittish animal, when backed into a corner can suddenly be terrifying and capable of all kinds of energy, tenacity, and aggression.
When I think of backing myself into a corner, this doesn’t mean I’m trying to become a rabid raccoon or terrified. More like: What choices can I make that mean I have no other option than to fight forward and succeed.
Laziness and the urge to coast along is a lifelong battle. HOWEVER, you can fight (and win) by putting yourself in situations where you have NO OTHER CHOICE than to figure things out.
Going Beyond Your (Known) Capabilities
Some of our best work at LimeCuda has come from sending out proposals knowing we weren’t yet capable or didn’t yet know how to do something.
I don’t mean we were being deceptive.
I do mean, we knew we’d have to figure out some difficult things but we were confident that we could do it. Once locked in to that project, we had no choice but to up our game and get it done!
Here are some examples of how you can intentionally back yourself into a corner:
- Want to improve work skills? Send out a proposal for a project you know will require learning new things.
- Want to read more? Join a book study or commit to meeting with someone to review a book you both read.
- Want a cleaner house? Invite people over regularly.
- Want to cook more? Buy ingredients that will threaten you with growing stale.
- Want to write more? Start a competition with a friend. (with stakes!)
- Want to learn a skill? Sign up for a class or book a time to take a qualification test.
Yes, you still need to follow-through but often the risk of losing money, embarrassment, or disappointing people will be enough to jar you out of complacency. Use your own psychology as a weapon against yourself. All is fair.
Over Committing / Over Booking Your Time
Your Mileage May Vary! I hesitate to share this as it has certainly bitten me a few times over the years. For me, there is definitely an equilibrium I need to pursue. I need to have enough work load on my back that I don’t become complacent but not too much that I am overcommitted, burned out, and have no margin in my life for the unexpected.
My mom shared with me before I started college that she was most productive the semesters when she was loaded up with perhaps a few more credits than comfortable. My experience was the same and that has stuck with me into work life.
Part of keeping my back in the corner is just having enough work to keep me working hard.
This doesn’t have to be at odds with making sure you “under promise, over deliver”…if you make sure you manage others’ expectations differently than you have calibrated your own.
My questions and challenges to you:
- Are there times you can recall putting yourself in a corner? And what happened?
- Are there projects or opportunities you are shying away from that you should go for?
- Where do you want to end up and what choices can you make to “put yourself in a corner” to get there?
Would love to hear if this works for you. Drop a comment below or email me.