When we lack motivation, feel stuck, or are downright burned out, our business development goals can feel impossible, overwhelming, or even lackluster. Whether we’re trying to meet our business development goals, establish a new habit, or fulfill a lifelong dream, sometimes it can feel like a Sisyphean task – especially when we’re feeling the weight of burnout.
Enter GrowthPlay’s 4P approach.
With this approach, you leverage progress, pace, position, and positivity to get over a slump and work toward your business development goals.
Results-oriented people are often motivated by focusing on the outcome. For instance, your business development goals might include landing five new clients or increasing your book of business by 10%. Establishing a specific goal or outcome to work toward is important, but when shifting mindset, creating a new habit, or feeling burned out, the outcome-based goal can feel overwhelming and paralyzing.
In these situations, it’s helpful to focus on progress, not only the outcome. Acknowledge and celebrate the incremental steps along the journey. For instance, instead of focusing on winning new work, you might reach out to three contacts this week, get coffee with a former colleague, or update your LinkedIn profile. These are all crucial steps along the path to achieving the desired outcome.
Achieving your professional or personal goals is about more than a one-time burst of activity; it is about building sustainable routines. Sometimes that means taking action even when you don’t feel like it.
Often, what matters most is showing up and doing the work. Establishing a routine and developing a disciplined approach to add business development habits into your schedule is much of the battle. Habits and activities don’t always need to be monumental, but they should be consistent.
When feeling burned out or struggling to get started, take tiny steps – but maintain your pace as best you can. For instance, you might move a list of contacts from your head to a piece of paper, talk to two people on your contact list weekly for a month, or share two articles on LinkedIn. Consistent actions–regardless of how small—can help you get through a slump.
Let improvement be the first goal. Ask yourself: how can I get 1% better than yesterday? And remember that discipline isn’t about always “feeling” like you want to do something but taking action even when you don’t feel like it because you know that consistent action will propel you to improvement.
Another helpful tool when struggling with burnout or lacking motivation is positioning yourself for success. For instance, the habit-stacking technique advocated by James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” connects a new or challenging behavior with an existing habit. For example, when brushing your teeth, you might think about your “what’s new” headline. When riding the train, you might reach out to three contacts. Or after you’ve entered your billable time for the week, you might share an article on LinkedIn.
Positioning also means creating conditions that make it easier to succeed. For example, consider setting calendar reminders for business development activities. Find a business development accountability buddy. Or reach out to your support team when you’re feeling burned out or struggling to stay motivated. Setting up the conditions for success makes it easier to stick to your business development plan.
Though it might sound cliché, mindset makes a huge difference. You can shift your perspective through the language you use with yourself. For example, instead of saying I “have to” reach out to my contacts, think to yourself, “I want to reach out to my contacts.” Instead of telling yourself that you “should” go to a networking event, remind yourself that you are looking forward to seeing colleagues and friends. Business development doesn’t need to be challenging; it can be fun. If you are a busy parent, consider planning a family-friendly networking event. If you enjoy cooking, invite a few contacts to a cooking class. Consider this the go-ahead to focus on the business development activities you love and forget the ones you loathe.
Bonus P: Pause
This bonus P is essential if you are really burned out or exhausted. Give yourself permission to rest and replenish. Remember: recovery is an integral part of performance. As we emerge from three years of pandemic-related stress, on top of our typical day-to-day stress and professional challenges, a pause might be more important than ever.
To keep your pause from becoming permanent, however, create a mechanism for reentry and accountability. For instance, set a calendar reminder in two weeks to return to your business development plan or set up a coffee date with a key contact in a month. This gives you time to rest, creates parameters around the pause, and encourages you to reengage.
Everyone needs the 4P approach from time to time.
If you sometimes struggle to start a business development routine or feel burned out, you aren’t alone. Many successful professionals feel this way from time to time. Remember the 4Ps – and sometimes the bonus P – and you’ll be able to move through the motivation slump and stick to the path of improvement.