The ‘Have To’ Trap

While working with a client the other day she kept saying “I have to [blank].” She was referring to all the things she had identified in her business that she had to get done.

“I have to find some to redesign my website. I have to schedule a new teleclass. I have to send out an update to the students from my last class. ”

The more she said I ‘have to’ the heavier the energy felt, the sticker it got and the less enthusiasm she had for her business – a business and work that she normally loves to be and do.

I know from personal experience that as soon as I hear ‘have to’ I balk and I skid to a complete stop. It doesn’t matter if someone else is saying it to me or if I am saying it to myself.

Since I recognize this reaction instead of working hard to change it, I just do something different. I now ask questions like… “What would I like to accomplish today? What would be the greatest contribution to me, my business and my clients? What have I been avoiding or putting off that if I did it would open up space for me to create and generate even more? If I mow the lawn today instead of tomorrow when I have nothing else planned will that allow me to have a whole day to write or play?”

At home and at work most people know that if the ask me to do something or help them I am right there and we get it done. If someone tries to tell me to do something, the results aren’t nearly as good, if there are any results at all.

So, this week I started to ask my client questions, working with her to turn her ‘have-to’s’ into questions and breaking things down into small steps.

For example:

“I have to find someone to redesign my website.” This statement, the conclusion that she had to have her website redesigned created a sense of urgency, stress and overwhelm. It had to be perfect or else she’d fail and no one would ever find her, she’d lose her business, go bankrupt and be living on the street.

I know it sounds funny, but how many times have you fallen into the trap of making a task so big and allowing it to take a life on of its’ own that it practically swallowed you and paralyzed you? I know it’s happened to me in the past.

First, we began to ask questions about her website:

    What worked?
    What didn’t work?
    What did she like about it?
    What didn’t she like about it?
    What elements did she feel were missing?
    What aspects of working with her website did she like doing herself?
    Was it that she didn’t know how to do some things, or was it that she didn’t like doing them?
    What was she willing to do and /or learn to do?
    Was it more beneficial for her to outsource all of it or some of it?
    How much time did she think it would take to maintain a website?

Then we brainstormed some ideas of how she could find someone to help her with her website.

The results of asking questions and brainstorming created a greater sense of ease and whole lot less stress around the issue of redesigning her website.

Yes, she wanted to rebrand the website, but the structure of the website and most of the content still fit. It didn’t have to be redesigned from the ground up.

We determined that what she needed was a new logo and new colors, something that was a little more professional and not so whimsical. Her current colors and design projected an image that just wasn’t as professional as the clients she found she liked working with the most. And, one of the the best parts is that creating a new logo and choosing new colors for her website is going to be less expensive than a complete redesign and a much quicker start to finish timeline.

As for her web content, it appeared that most of what she had would still fit with just a little editing. We broke the task down into small steps. She could spend a few hours each week editing and/or writing additional content and during each editing session she’d work on just one page or one area of the website at a time. This made the whole process much more manageable. Within a month she’d be done.

In the past she had blogged on occasion with little or no structure. She wanted to change this. She decided she could easily write 1-2 blog posts a week and with a little training she could post them herself until she was ready to hire an assistant. We created a schedule for writing and posting with deadlines and brainstormed topics. We also talked about adding video in the future and what that could look like.

During the brainstorming session we decided that she could post on Facebook and other social media sites for recommendations to hire someone to help her choose new colors and design a new logo for her. This particular task wasn’t something she could do herself, nor did she have any desire to do it herself or to tackle the steep learning curve required. She also decided to seek help and recommendations from several of the networking and small business groups she belonged to.

Overall, when we were done, the ‘have-to’s’ were turned into questions, small actions steps and a ‘can-do’ attitude instead. Her business began to feel fun again and something she wanted to do instead of something she had to do.

Now, honestly how cool is that?

One Response to The ‘Have To’ Trap
  1. good seer
    April 6, 2015 | 10:54 am

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