Over the past few weeks, I’ve talked about “to-do” lists and “got-it-done” lists. The purpose and value of each are different, but they share a focus and foundation that are vitally important to any business – accomplishing goals.
To say accomplishing goals is important to a business is stating the obvious. It’s also no secret that checking items off the to-do list is about taking action. But determining when, where, and how to get started can be challenging. The danger here is getting caught up in the “wait cycle” where good ideas are perpetually put on hold because we’re unsure of how to move forward. Next thing you know, there’s an overwhelming number of potential projects in the idea-phase which compounds the challenge of determining when, where, and how to get started. If this sounds familiar, I’m right there with you.
As we quickly approach the end of 2021, now is the time to address your “wait cycle” challenges. Resist the urge to push good ideas into next year because albeit brief, there’s a window of opportunity between now and then to build momentum. If we can get the wheels turning, even on just one of our potential projects or pending ideas, we can hit the ground running in 2022.
Here are a few suggestions for building momentum heading into next year:
Pick a task, idea, or project that has the most potential long-term impact and value.
We want our time, energy, and resources to make a difference within our business. So, when choosing an idea or project to launch, it’s not necessarily about choosing the quickest or easiest. Nor is it necessarily about the volume of completed tasks that defines success. At year’s end, many businesses lean toward checking items of their to-do for the sake of checking it off the list. But will those quick and easy tasks have meaningful impact?
The points I’m making here aren’t about clearing your to-do list. I’m focused on using the time we have left in 2021 to build a foundation for long-term success. I’m encouraging you to consider the big-picture ideas that have been stuck in the wait cycle and to narrow your focus on one that has high value potential. Remember, we’re not looking to reach the finish line by the end of this year, but rather we’re looking to build momentum heading into next year.
Identify the barriers and obstacles that have been holding you up.
Ask yourself why this project or idea hasn’t been launched yet. Sometimes it comes down to finances and capacity, but other times it’s lack of clarity regarding process and strategy. It’s also possible that fearing failure has prevented organizational commitment or team buy-in. Whatever the reasons, there are solutions. Through honest reflection and assessment of conditions leading up to this point, we are better equipped to overcome launch-point barriers.
Be bold and take that first step.
There’s no need to figure it all out at once. Stop yourself if you get caught thinking “and then… and then… and then…” because feeling overwhelmed is a progress inhibitor. The key here is to get the wheels turning. Once things are in motion, we’ll have a much better understanding of where to go next. This can be a simple as scheduling a planning meeting or running through scenario exercises. Assume the best and move forward as if this idea is a game changer. Being bold with a first step doesn’t mean it has to be a huge undertaking. It means we are committed and determined to take action.
Perhaps, in taking that first step, we realize the idea is not as promising as initially thought. This is good! Of course, it’s disappointing, but we’ve made progress by moving an idea off the back burner and testing its viability. This frees up resources and headspace to pursue others on the list. We’ll never break free of the wait cycle until we initiate action by taking that first step.
If you have a big idea stuck in the wait cycle, now is the time to break it out. Don’t keep waiting for a perfect scenario that may never come. I encourage you to take advantage of the time we have left in 2021, start building momentum today, and position yourself to hit the ground running in the new year.