What is the opposite of hard? That’s easy… ease.
Setting goals can be easy. Completing them, not so much.
There’s a range of internal motivators and external factors that can step in our way.
Tim Ferriss asks himself a great question:
What would this look like if this were easy?
When we’re staring down the path towards our goals and feeling it is all too hard we need to make things easier for ourselves.
One way to make something easier is to make it fun. Because we like fun. Fun can be something we do when we’re procrastinating from the hard work. So, we may as well make the hard work fun. Instead of procrastinating on it we’ll get it done, bringing us closer to our goals.
A Lesson in Making it Fun
I once worked in a team where we had a generic email account for queries. Anyone in the business could send in their query, and it was up to the team to respond to it.
There was no order to how the emails were managed, each person in the team would answer whichever queries they felt like, when they felt like.
This was a good system at first, as it allowed people to work to their strengths. Team members would generally respond more quickly to those questions they had a body of knowledge around.
However, the approach created some problems. One was the more difficult queries were often not answered promptly. Secondly, some queries may have sat unanswered for longer than reasonable and without a response, again because they were either more difficult or because they were perceived as undesirable queries to deal with.
I came up with an idea that the team would set aside a few hours on a Friday afternoon to work on this. It was time dedicated to the task of clearing out the inbox by responding to as many queries as we could.
I suggested this idea to the team and proposed that we name the time block as our “email blitz”. We discussed a suitable target of how many emails would be left in the inbox by the end of the day, the rest we had to resolve during the blitz.
We still got to select which of the emails we responded to. But knowing that we were all working on it together, by doing it at the same time, we felt more confident to go ahead and address the more difficult questions that we’d previously delayed. We wanted to achieve our target, together.
Another added benefit of this approach was in the days leading up to the blitz we all responded much more promptly to the question as they came in. This was done in an attempt to ensure we reached our team goal by the end of the blitz on Friday afternoon.
The result was – we achieved our goal.
Not just the quantitative goal of how many emails we would have left in the inbox by the end of the day. But we also achieved an unanticipated goal of changing our attitude to the inbox, while building our sense of team.
This turned the situation around from being fearful and reluctant towards some emails. Instead we became a team committed. We each felt equally responsible and dedicated to put our fears aside to confidently get through the work.
This story provides us a number of lessons.
Firstly, when we make things fun, we’re more likely to do them. It breaks down some of the fears, and instead replaces it with excitement and energy to do the work. The work still needs doing, but if we can trick or motivate ourselves into being interested in the work, then it makes it easier to start.
Secondly, there’s benefit in working as a team towards our goals. Instead of feeling as if we are alone, we can call in our cheer squad, our support crew, to help us along. The expression many hands make light work is relevant here. The work is lighter in terms of the load when working with others, but it is also a lighter and more enjoyable activity to work with others in cooperation for the pursuit of a common goal.
Thirdly, setting ourselves a defined period of time to get our work done can also help. Our blitz was set for a few hours on a Friday afternoon. Our goals may need a lot more than a few hours to really break the back of the work. But, using this example, if we give ourselves a mini-deadline it may prompt enough work to get some momentum rolling towards the achievement of our goals.
Finally, when we start taking action we learn. Either learning about ourselves and our abilities, which improves our confidence to do more and more. Or, we learn more about the situation and gain some insights we may have never realised without the preceding activity. This increased confidence and insight makes the rest of the work clearer as well.
Making Goals Easy
My challenge to you is to think about what you can do to make things easier to achieve your goals. How can you raise the enjoyment factor when you’re feeling it is all too hard? Can you reframe the work? Is there a way to make it fun? Or even silly? Or, can you share in the tasks with someone and feel the benefit of shared energy.
I wish you well in the pursuit of your goals.