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Work the System! (Don’t Cook Your Mood)

This week, Ryan, a financial planner in California, asked me, “What do I do when I’m just in the dumps and don’t really feel like working?”

A few weeks ago, I shared the thoughts of my friend and colleague, Steve Chandler, about the difference between “Doers” and “Feelers”.  The central idea is that Feelers have inconsistent results, because their actions depend on their mood at any given moment.  Doers, on the other hand, almost always have a “system” and work that system no matter how they feel.

As I thought about responding to Ryan’s question, I recalled how inventor and entrepreneur Ron Popeil used to do an infomercial for his RoncoTM line of rotisserie ovens, repeating (often) the phrase: Set it and forget it!

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His point was that once you had set up the oven and the timer, the goal of a perfectly cooked roasted-meat meal would be met by the temperature and timing system built in to the oven.

Ryan had agreed that he could reach his income target (the perfectly roasted chicken) if he stuck to a simple plan—keeping six great appointments each week and working at maximizing the value he brought clients on every one of those appointments.  This six-appointment-per-week procedure was also his personal barometer for his earnings journey.

How the rotisserie oven feels at any given moment will not interfere with its temperature and timing mechanisms, and likewise, how a professional feels at any given moment cannot interfere with the his or her process goals (six appointments, 50 phone calls, etc.).

“If you don’t feel like working,” I told Ryan, “Book your six appointments anyway, and then goof off.  That’s your absolute minimum.  If you do feel like working, do more!”

As with any discipline, sticking to our own rotisserie settings so that we can cook the perfect success story is easier said than done.  But if you make up your mind that how you feel at any given moment is not relevant to what you’ll do, your process goals will lead you to your ultimate goal.

Imagine a surgeon or a pilot who “just doesn’t feel like” focusing on his or her job today.  The ultimate goal of having healthy patients and safe passengers is, for them, a simple matter of “set it and forget it”.  What they’re doing during the surgery and during the flight is unconditional.  If they stick to their skills and landmarks, they’ll get the results they want.

In your case, set it and don’t forget it: Remember to do what you do best, whatever your temperature, and even if you’re dragging your feet a little.  Keep moving, and keep REACHING…

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