You’re a creative person. You know you have gifts to give to the world. You have knowledge you want to share. You’ve got something in the back of your mind that you’ve been dreaming of doing. Maybe it’s writing a book, learning a new language, or starting a business on the side. You’re excited, scared, and not exactly sure where to start.
So what’s the first thing you do?
It makes sense before you start, to know the lay of the land, right? Who else is out there doing something similar? How are they doing it? Who’s got the latest secret sauce to success?
Don’t misunderstand me. Research is necessary. The education is critical. But researching can easily cross the line from productive to procrastination and self-sabotage.
When you don’t stop reading, listing, and seeking out new information, you’ve crossed into the mud pits of the research black hole. And if you don’t realize this and pull yourself out of it, it’ll be the biggest roadblock to your success.
I’m not saying this is easy. I’ve been in the research black hole plenty of times myself. It’s so easy to get sucked in. I know the feeling. You’re scared: Just one more podcast! Let me just download one more e-book and it will at last reveal the secret to success!
But the secret strategy or tactic never comes — because it doesn’t exist. You’re researching and researching because it’s an excuse for not trying — and, therefore, for not failing.
If you keep researching you’ll sleep well at night because you’ll tell yourself that you didn’t try to be successful because you didn’t know how to be successful — that no one ever taught you. And so while this roadblock will always be your obstacle to success, at least you’ll have an excuse for never achieving success, right?
Wrong. You can do better!
So, how do you defeat the fear that spirals you into the research black hole? By avoiding it all together.
There’s a formula for doing so, and it goes like this: Take your goal, break it down into tiny tasks, learn only what you need to learn in order to complete one task, and complete the one task at hand. Then move onto the next.
How do you know when you’re ready to move from completing tasks back into new research? Ask yourself: Have I exhausted everything I currently know about this topic on my current task? If the answer is yes, then hit the search engine again. If the answer is no — and you’re doing research —you’re procrastinating.
To be successful, you need to take action. Ultimately, research is preparation for taking action, but not action itself. And that’s a huge difference.
To use the formula above in order to avoid the research black hole, set up a system in your life so you don’t even need to think about it.
The easiest system is to simply split your time into two halves. Whatever time you’ve allocated for your project, split that time into half for doing research and half for implementing research.
The selected half for implementing research is for action-based activities only. These are actions that let you check off items on your task list — the same task list that leads you to completing your ultimate goal. This time isn’t for brainstorming strategy or meetings. It’s for pushing the ball forward. The other half of your time is for reading, planning, and listening. This is the time to check your prior work and plan your next session.
Try to adopt this system or a similar system into your workflow so that you can research, learn, and execute effectively. When you separate the functions of research and action you’ll see your productivity skyrocket, and you’ll avoid the biggest roadblock to your success.
Written by Bryan Leeds