Struggling to follow through on your goals? Check your “factory settings”.

Let me guess. You have a big idea, a desire, or a dream that you know is meant for you.

You think about it a lot. Maybe you’ve even talked about it. And now your friends have started asking: so that______ you want to do, how’s it going?

But you haven’t done anything.

All you have are the swarming thoughts:

Maybe it was just a phase…

I can’t motivate myself…

I’m not _____ enough…

I’m not cut out for this…

It’s not going to happen….

These are phrases I hear from my coaching clients every week. And I’ve been there myself. You’re hearing this from the woman who identified as a writer first, human second from age 8, yet didn’t write for 6 years — 6 years! — in her 20s because she was waiting for “inspiration” to strike. Doh!

Why you haven’t worked towards that big goal yet

If I may, allow me the liberty of pinpointing why you haven’t started working towards that big goal yet.

  1. You haven’t gotten clear on your overall vision: the why
  2. You haven’t been specific on what the goal actually entails.
  3. You haven’t kept your own deadlines and promises to yourself.
  4. You haven’t broken down the steps between you and the goal and taken step 1.
  5. You haven’t created a support structure to give you a fighting chance of actually being able to do the work.

None of the above has anything to do with you being enough, your talent or your potential.

It is simply our biological makeup. Changing our behaviour uses up valuable brain calories, so we’re hardwired to avoid it wherever possible.

As entrepreneurial and creative people, we’re really good at ideas.

We’re really good at being inspired and having big dreams.

We’re even pretty good at starting things: making the announcement, buying the domain name, taking the course.

But we’re not always good at following things all the way through.

In fact, I believe that the gifts and strengths that make us so good at ideas and starting things are precisely why we’re not good at finishing them.

People who start things and people who finish things are almost a completely different species. In fact, the Basadur Profile, a personality framework, demonstrates that there are four types of problem-solving human: The Idea Generator, The Idea Conceptualizer, The Process Optimiser and The Process Implementer. Let’s call these our factory settings.

Each Basadur Profile has a natural overlap with the one next to it, but not two over. So Generators tend to have some Conceptualizer skills but are poor at optimizing and implementing; Implementers are insanely talented at bringing things to life but need external help with Generating and Conceptualising.

All the strategy in the world won’t make a difference if you don’t have the right structure to help you implement, progress and push through resistance. Left to run on our factory settings, we might go through all of life repeating the same pattern: generate brilliant idea, start to put together concepts…ooh — shiny object!

Structure: the real secret to entrepreneurial success

Without structure, there’s no clarity on where to focus our efforts. Things get confusing. Motivation runs out. It feels easier to chase after shiny new objects and projects. Then we beat ourselves up for still not working on our big goal.

It’s too late…

I’m not cut out for this…

It’ll never happen…

No! — There’s nothing wrong with you. You have incredible gifts! Just maybe not this particular one. So you must have a system.

More often than not, if you’re a Generator or a Conceptualiser, you need to run a system that Optimisers and Implementers have as their factory settings: routines, step-by-step-plans, trackers.

Struggle to take action on big, scary tasks ? You need a structure for breaking them down into smaller chunks you can tackle every day.

Easily distracted? You need structure to support you to work in focused bursts with no disturbances.

Prone to overworking? You need structure to limit your workdays and treat self-care like it’s an appointment with your most important client.

Develop a structure to mitigate your “factory settings”

Here’s something I know for sure: the most successful strategies often involve going about things in a way that is completely counterintuitive way to “your” way.

If you’re an Idea Generator, the solution is likely not that you need more brainstorming, even though that might be where you naturally head. The solution is that you need something or someone to help you through the sticky, tedious slog of getting the idea realised.

Creating a loving structure is about honouring your needs and your factory settings, and recognising what support you need to fill in the gaps to make things happen.

When working with my coaching clients, this is what I call their Productive with Purpose plan. It’s a 100% personalised framework to support them to achieve their big goals that plays to their strengths, mitigates their weaknesses and above all helps them enjoy the process. Because yes, you can be goal-oriented and live the good life every day.

Let me tell you why I care so much about helping people to get their brilliant ideas out of their heads and into the world.

An idea on its own is beautiful but ultimately worthless. People die every day with their big ideas and goals still inside them.

Every day.

But when we have the right support structure, we can increase our capacity for our best, most impactful and creative work. And we can share that work — getting it into the hearts, minds and hands of the people who need it.

Rather than having our ideas die with us, they outlive us.

Want to keep reading?

Get some more ideas on building structure into your workflow in Have you experienced the Freelancer Freedom Paradox?

Steal 7 life-changing productivity strategies for freelancers and entrepreneurs

Understand what kind of structure you need to mitigate your “factory settings” with 4 tools to increase your self-awareness and make it your unfair advantage in business.

Strategy Coach helping entrepreneurial people be more purposeful, productive and present in life and business | | @imogenroy

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