By Brett Cafferty

I came across this “note to self” from a few years ago about a common challenge many of us face. I know that I welcomed the reminder and I thought you might, too.

There is a basic human character trait many of us struggle with as we seek to get in gear on whatever tasks or goals we have determined are important or necessary – procrastination. Put it off until later, deal with it tomorrow, await more information, defer to others, or simply not acting due to being unsure of a positive outcome. There are many professionals in the small business world who are creative, capable, hard-working people that fully believe in the work or service they offer but have a difficult time translating good intentions in to tangible actions and can often spend far too much time getting ready to get ready. Sound familiar?

If new year plans and “resolutions” haven’t come together yet, here are some basic principles learned from my early days in sales that I thought were worth sharing as a gentle reminder, myself included:

Swing the bat – Having been in sales roles in several industries, and experiencing the challenge of hiring, managing, and coaching, this is the #1 rule that can be applied universally in all aspects of life. From a business perspective – the more activity, the more contacts made, the greater the chances for success. Your learning curve is greatly improved, and patterns of behavior are established that reinforce a “get out and do it” mentality. This also develops a resiliency that, when the days (or months, or year) get tough, the default mindset is to press on, get up, and keep going.

When all else fails, follow the plan – The business owner I was speaking with is starting a new venture, and we talked about the challenges of a new industry and a sole proprietorship – from making new contacts to how to market yourself and all the uncertainties of “will this actually work out?”

Referring to lessons learned over the years that have been reinforced by mentors, co-workers, and authorities on the subject, when discouraged or in doubt, do the next thing. Regardless of the type of business or venture, there should be a basic “recipe” of activities that, when done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, will lead to results. This plan should be simple, easy to track, and easily shared with others for feedback or accountability.

When the days are long and you get discouraged, the simple act of following your plan by doing the next thing will result in a mental “boost” to help your attitude and perspective.

From one procrastinator to another (and isn’t that all of us at one time or another?) – keep it simple, have faith in your plan, and swing the bat!