Are You Off Track? Do This.
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This chart sits atop my Trello task board.
It helps me get back on task after I inevitably wander away from what I’m supposed to be (and even want to be) doing. Every day, I’m forced to ask the question, “where do I feel stuck?” And then, based on the answer, I have a simple path forward.
I love it for the simplicity.
There’s no wiggle room.
You’re either stuck in a certain area of life, or you’re not. It’s a forcing function. I can’t explain it away or bullsh*t my way out of it. And while no tool is perfect, this helps me start thinking about solutions rather than wallowing in frustration.
I hope it helps you as much as it’s helped me.
Let’s dig in.
Feeling stuck? Do this.
The only way to get yourself out of a funk—to get “unstuck”—is by taking on risk. You can do this one of two ways: try something new or make cuts / do less.
Try something new: this is where I usually gravitate to first.
The upside to doing something new is usually significantly higher than making cuts, which is probably why I start here. But that upside has a downside. If you adopt the “try something new” approach, just be aware it’s the costlier option of the two.
We all know it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones, right?
Same thinking applies here. But for everything.
For me, it helps to look at doing something new in the context of an experiment. An experiment isn’t about right and wrong as it is about learning. Plus, experimentation opens you up to results you may not have been expecting.
Velcro. Post-It Notes. Even air conditioning. All “accidentally” came from experiments designed to produce different results.
A personal example: we wanted to spice up our customer onboarding process.
It was lackluster—clients didn’t really notice it. Which meant no one paid attention to the information we sent them. Which meant we had tons of customer support tickets asking where stuff was at. We were stuck.
So I added a simple task to our client onboarding process recently that’s increased the “feel good” factor for new clients tenfold.
Sending a simple text message welcoming a new client after they join our Accelerator.
I get more comments on that one text message than anything else we do.
Customer support tickets from new clients are down by 40% as a result.
The experiment worked.
Make cuts: this is addition by subtraction.
For instance, in my old agency we did an experiment where we simply stopped doing weekly client calls. They were a drag on our team. Clients never showed up prepared. Everyone hated them. We were doing them because we felt like we had to do them.
So one day I said, “we’re just not gonna do these for a month and see what happens.”
Literally no one noticed.
Upside: we freed up 10 hours+ per week of team time and lessened the burden on our clients. No downside. We used the freed time to double-down on our processes and onboarding. Stuck-no-longer.
Making cuts is the fastest and easiest way to get back on track:
Fire team members
Reduce your calories
Eliminate costly services
…you get the idea
Like Bing Bong jumping out of the wagon so Joy could vault out of the Pit of Despair, getting unstuck and flying high means getting rid of the fluff.
Final thoughts: It’s a risk to cut. It’s a risk to add. Risk is the only way to jolt yourself back on-track. But let’s be honest… most of us feel like we’re off-track most of the time. So come back to this chart. Often. It’ll help you frame the feeling faster so you can get moving.
Feeling like you’re finally getting somewhere? Do this.
Feeling pretty good? Like things are moving? Grooving, even? It’s time take risk off the table and Diversify + Backup.
Diversify: this is the definition of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
So you made a ton of money trading crypto? Consider taking some if it off the table and invest in real estate.
Is your business cash-flowing like an endless gravy train at Thanksgiving? Put some of your profits to the side and start a new, unrelated business in a different industry.
But it doesn’t just have to be financial investments:
Extend your network and build friendships in multiple different groups
Build a social media following on more than one platform
Diversify your income streams—did you know the average millionaire has 7 different ways they earn money?
Diversification is about extending your momentum from one area to another.
Backup: making sure your momentum is protected.
A shark has multiple rows of teeth so when it loses one, the next tooth just slides right in. This is what it means to have backups around your success and momentum.
We back up our hard drives, our photos, and our keys. But let’s take it further and start backing up the places where we’re feeeeeeelin’ it.
Need some ideas?
Backup your thinking with SOPs and documented processes
Backup your banking and create more accounts than you currently need at multiple different banks
Backup your family by creating a living will and family trust
Backup your fitness by putting your workouts on your calendar
Backup your nutrition by taking the right supplements on top of a decent diet
Backup your ability to earn an income with disability insurance
Don’t let the simplicity of the “unstuck” chart fool you. It’s powerful and it works. Moreover, you can use this is virtually any area of your life where you feel….stuck.
Special credit to my friend Dan for sharing this chart with me.