“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.”
– Dutch Proverb
There are many things I like about our refrigerator.
I like that the freezer is on the bottom.
I like that there are half a dozen little lights (rather than just one big bulb) scattered about, making it easy to find last night’s leftover slice of pizza.*
(*Who am I kidding, I ate it before bed. But you get the idea.)
I even like the frivolous extravagance that is the water and ice (cubed or crushed) dispensing door.
But what I like the most, without question, is the fact that the shelves and door pockets in our refrigerator are modular – you can take them in and out, quickly and individually.
Which means that for the first time since, well, maybe ever, our refrigerator is nearly always clean.
Let me explain…
The problem with our previous refrigerators, you see, was that cleaning them was an all or nothing proposition.
It was one big unit inside, which meant that you pretty much had to empty the entire thing in order to clean it.
Which pretty much meant, that you pretty much didn’t do it, pretty much at all.
Today, though, I do it all the time.
And that’s because I can just pull one shelf out, wash it off in the sink, and pop it back in.
But here’s what I’ve noticed: Once I clean one shelf, more often than not, I clean several.
Often, I end up cleaning the entire refrigerator.
Isn’t that odd? It’s the same amount of work as with the old fridge.
But somehow, just starting takes me straight through to the end.
And, since I know I can just do one little bit and walk away, I’m more likely to start.
Your Plans Are Too Big
In his book, Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results, Stephen Guise offers the following explanation:
“A mini habit is a very small positive behavior that you force yourself to do every day; its ‘too small to fail’ nature makes it weightless, deceptively powerful, and a superior habit-building strategy.”
I’m certain that’s what’s happening with me and my fridge.
And, I’m fairly certain that’s what’s keeping you from committing to a consistent marketing plan for your professional service business.
It’s not for lack of trying.
Periodically, you and your colleagues (or, in some cases, cat) sit down with a blank sheet of paper, and start brainstorming:
Send one handwritten note each day
Have lunch with one colleague each week
Attend two networking meetings each month
Write one book each year
Launch a monthly newsletter
Start a weekly podcast
Blah, blah, blah
Whatever the specifics of your list, it’s too much.
Each time you pull out that piece of paper to give it another try, all you can see is an entire refrigerator that needs cleaning.
So you put your list away and do nothing. Until you look at it again … and again do nothing.
Try this instead: For any marketing activity on your list, commit to doing just one, teeny-tiny thing to move it forward … EVERY SINGLE DAY.
You can do more if you feel like it, but all you HAVE to do is that one thing.
Interested in launching a newsletter? Commit to writing 10 words a day. Every day.
Does the idea of sending daily snail mail notes sound appealing? Commit to picking up a pen and a sheet of paper and just holding them. Every day.
Are you more of a phone person? Terrific. All you have to do is pick up your phone and dial the number of someone on your list.
You don’t have to make the call, just plug in the numbers. But do it every day.
Over time, as you do more than the minimum (and you will), a small step will grow into a complete marketing activity.
Guise claims that’s how he graduated from doing just one push-up a day in 2014 to completing five marathons in five days in 2017.
And while it’s true that I just made up that marathon story, he does say that this approach has led to him working out regularly now for long periods of time.
Here’s the bottom line.
Big goals are fine, but they’re scary too.
Launching a project – of any type – is like pushing a car: the hardest part is going from zero to some movement, even if it’s just a little bit.
From there, not only does it get way easier, if you’re not really careful, it can even become enjoyable.
Try it. And let me know what happens.
Gotta go. That refrigerator isn’t going to clean itself.
- What’s your favorite proverb, Dutch or otherwise?
- Is your cat a helpful brainstorming partner?
- What small step on a desired project/habit can you commit to, right here, right now?