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Benjamin Drury - December 17, 2018

The roadblock is small. Just start already!

This week in my house we have implemented a new rule, in an attempt to get my three kids to take responsibility for themselves a little more.  

Every Saturday the WIFI password is changed and they can only get the new one if they have completed a certain number of chores during the week and also tidied their bedroom.

For two of them it worked fine.  Chores done. Bedrooms tidy. WIFI restored. For the youngest, not so much!

He left his chores ’til Saturday morning and his bedroom was floorless.  Not Flawless.  Floorless. It literally had no visible floor.

To give him credit, the first thing he did on Saturday morning was to get up and do his two chores for the week (with a little encouragement).  Then came the bedroom.  “Oh no, the bedroom.”  “Not the bedroom!”  “Why do have to tidy my bedroom!”

For him it was step too far.  The job was too big.  Too overwhelming.  Too impossible.  He just could not get his mind round it.  The time it would take in his mind was too long and he couldn’t see the end.

I knew different.  I knew that it wasn’t as big a job as he suspected.  It would take him about 30 – 40 minutes and it would be done and he’d be back on WIFI and screen time, but he couldn’t see that.  To him it might as well have been the Augean Stables with 3000 oxen!

It took a lot of persuading, encouragement and some help to get him to start.  Once he started, though, he made inroads very quickly and suddenly discovered it wasn’t as big a job as his mind had made it up to be.   

Thirty five minutes later – job done, WIFI restored! 

I find, when running a business, that there are tasks just like the floorless bedroom.  Taskas I look at and keep putting off – the annual marketing plan; the monthly bookkeeping; the writing of the next book chapter.  There are plenty of things that I would rather do right now than start that (apparently) big job and plenty of things I often do do rather than start that (apparently) big job. 

However, when it can wait no longer and I eventually do get round to it, it’s never that mammoth, oppressive, cumbersome task that I had envisaged.  It often takes far less time than I had expected and the relief and satisfaction of getting it done is huge.

So next time that task you’ve been avoiding looks too big; too overwhelming; too impossible – just get started and find out the truth.  You may be surprised how small the actual roadblock is! 

If you want to look more into this subject then I would recommend taking a look at the work Mel Robbins has done on the science of this kind of thinking and her solution – The 5 second rule!  (https://melrobbins.com/).

How do you get those big tasks started?  How do you overcome your bias to inaction?

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