Do you put out a mince pie and a glass of sherry for Santa? And a carrot for Rudolph?
When I was little, I was always so excited to come downstairs on Christmas morning and find just crumbs and the hairy end of the carrot. My mum and dad were masters at getting me to believe Santa really had visited. I could swear I’d even heard sleighbells on the roof when they arrived.
But even as a child I had questions: how did Santa visit every child in one night? Even taking into account time zones? And what would happen if he failed?
I had visions of the world being swallowed by undelivered gifts and the wrath of empty-souled, dead-eyed, howling elves devouring the world (yeah, you think elves are the good guys, right? NOPE.)
Obviously we had to put out goodies for Santa and his team to encourage them to deliver everything that needed delivering… as if the dead-eyed world-eating elves weren’t stick enough.
Because we always need sticks and carrots, don’t we? Or zombie elves and mince pies, I guess.
But even the zombie elves and mince pies aren’t enough for Santa, I don’t think. They’re not enough for me, anyway. See, I set myself goals with rewards… and I punish myself mercilessly when I don’t achieve what I think I should.
I thrive under deadlines and sometimes – just sometimes – I miss having someone to lay down the law when it comes to getting work done.
The mince pies and zombie elves are behaviour modification tools for Santa. Just like the carrot and the stick are for the donkey. And the “have you been naughty or nice?” angle to get children to behave.
So, what do you do to keep yourself on track? Because let me share an uncomfortable truth with you: if you’re not where you want to be, that’s down to you. It’s not your clients’ fault, or the market’s fault, or the economy, or your mentor’s fault. It’s down to you.
I didn’t achieve one of my big goals earlier this year. Whose fault was that? Mine.
I lost a big retainer client this year (nothing I could do about that, it came to a natural end)… and didn’t replace him as fast as I’d have liked. Which was entirely down to me.
Which is why I’m asking: how do you make yourself do the things that need to be done? Because if you don’t make them happen, nobody else will. Nobody else can. This business of yours is your business and nobody cares about its success more than you do.
But that’s a good thing because it means you’re in control of your own future. My mate Paul Mort pointed out in his email this morning that most business owners give themselves permission to not do the things that need doing. They kid themselves that faffing about on Facebook networking, or “gathering information” on the internet, or reading about a subject is the same thing as getting stuff done.
The only thing that makes any difference at all is action. Read and learn, by all means – but put actions to your reading so it’s active, not passive.
Decide where you’re going and what you want to achieve before Christmas (YES, THERE’S STILL TIME TO GET SHITLOADS DONE) then list the things you need to actually do to make it happen.
Then do thing number one.
Every time you procrastinate, every time you slack off, every time you make an excuse, tell yourself this: my future self is watching. If I’m no further on a year from now, how pissed off am I going to be?
Get it done. Even if you don’t really feel like it.
And because I know how tough getting started can be, I’ll kick your arse into gear for you when you Borrow My Brain.
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS Little Christmas quiz for you: in which country is it traditional to eat the deep-fried caterpillar of the emperor moth on Christmas Day?
Yeah, you could Google the answer. I can’t stop you. But have a guess anyway, eh?