How to Avoid the ‘Research Trap’ and Make Powerful Progress in your Business
Do you ever feel well and truly stuck in the 'research trap'?
It probably goes something like this: You have an idea, a vision, a creative urge, but become so bogged down doing your ‘research’ that you don't take the powerful action you need to make it happen. You become an expert at preparing for action- you know what what you should, can and most probably will do (if and when you muster the confidence), but actually getting on and doing it remains a distant dream.
Steven Pressfield, one of my favourite authors who writes beautifully about how we can unleash our creative vision into the world as artists and entrepreneurs, talks about ‘resistance’ as being the destructive force that threatens our creative impulse and potential. For him, becoming obsessed with research is one of the most common forms of resistance there is.
We fool ourselves into thinking that we're progressing by swotting up on what we can, should, and very possibly might - and very much hope- to do, but really we're just distracting ourselves from just getting out there and producing, creating, evolving- of getting in that zone where we make things happen.
Now I'm not saying that you should never do your research. On the contrary, it's important to do your homework- to know what your competitors are doing, to fuel your ideas, get a of sense what does and doesn't work and keep firmly in the know of your industry. But what I’ve come to learn - not only from my coaching work with clients but through my own experience - is that we need to strike the healthy balance of doing research that will inspire and propel us towards action, rather than allowing research to become an excuse to delay actually getting out there and making our magic happen.
These are the two main reasons why too much research is a bad thing- I call them the two evil C's.
- Rather than being inspired by our research and sparking new insights that actually help us, we end up comparing ourselves to what others are doing and feeling inadequate. We dwell on how much more professional they are, how their credentials are so much more impressive, their website so much more polished- that we begin to question and doubt ourselves. This is serious breeding ground for what I call the ‘gremlins’ ( our inner self-critic and other destructive mind junk) which literally suffocates our creative potential. We get caught up in our negative head space and well and truly locked in action paralysis.
- We confuse ourselves. We become so preoccupied with everyone else's point of view and approach that we forget our own inner inspiration, individual style and authentic voice. It’s that authenticity that will always get us showing up at our most powerful- and where we will be most real and engaging to our customers and clients. I remember when I started blogging, I used to do tons of research to ‘validate’ my ideas that I’d forget what I actually felt myself! Talk about making my life a whole lot more complicated than it need be....
Below are my top tips to get you avoiding slipping into the research trap and ensure that you make genuine, powerful progress in your business.
- No matter what it is that your creating in your business, be it your service proposition, website, brand identity or simply a blog post- before you do anything, capture your own thoughts and ideas first. This will get you in your flow and deepening your own inner inspiration. You can then later do your research to tweak and enhance what you already have, but this way you retain your own individual power and style. You’ll also feel a lot better knowing you've already produced something you can build upon, rather than waiting for feeling ‘ready’ when you've done 'enough' research. This leads perfectly on to the next tip....
- Know that the idea of the perfect time and moment to start will never come. You’ll never feel 100% ready. There will always be something more you could know, a more 'ideal' time, a more confident, polished version of you to hang around for. The secret is to take action right now regardless- as Susan Jeffers says ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. The first step is always the most difficult, but you’ll soon get in your flow and things will feel a lot easier.
- When you do decide to research, have a healthy time limit and a focus as to what it is you want to know and understand more about. Once you have a focus, you’re in control of the research and coupled with the strict time limit, you’ll be much smarter with your time. A good way to approach it is to write down key bullet points of what you want to know by the end of your research. This will stop you from wasting precious time getting lost in cyber space- something that's really easy to do nowadays!