As we enter 2022, my resolution is to follow Mark Twain’s sage advice: ‘“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” I am going to focus on eating ‘the frog’ and you should too.
Okay, so not a real frog and definitely not Kermit the Frog (I love The Muppets) – but the metaphor of prioritizing the difficult tasks in your life and career (frogs)
The past few years has been difficult on us as we navigate the pandemic. God created us to have empathy and emotion and we cannot simply tune out the chaos around us. We are built for work, family and connection – and COVID-19 has left our worlds out of balance. We have a huge cross on our shoulders between work, personal lives and the ‘real world.’
I bring this up because this sort of helter-skelter work-life balance has left many workers burned out and emotionally exhausted. Sales professionals have been rethinking priorities as the strain of anxiety over quotas and prioritizing self-care has come to the forefront with the pandemic. The silver lining is that sales professionals are realizing that as important as career goals are – they won’t fulfill you unless they have life balance.
The struggle in this is that many sales professionals get so burned out by the time they realize the need for balance and prioritization they become disengaged and start going through the motions. You cannot build a successful sales career by simply ‘going through the motions’ – sure sales fundamentals can help you succeed, but engagement is the most important part of sales. You have to be engaged. In fact employee engagement is arguably the most important topic in HR right now. My employer Qualtrics is on the forefront of employee experience – to help companies avoid ‘burn out’ and attrition.
So back to the Frog – coming back from the holidays is hard. I’ll admit I’ve struggled with fatigue and battling the noise from the pandemic. I started a new career while tackling my own personal goals (art, writing) – taking the step to a productive year when everything seems out of place is hard. Most struggled with a dose of ‘New Years’ Blues,’ even if we are enthusiastically marching forward. Change is hard.
We set resolutions in January, but most fail because we fail to plan. We see those resolutions as pipe dreams – not real goals. We don’t map a path forward. I know I am guilty of this. We often beat ourselves up by dismissing personal and professional resolutions as a ‘waste of time,’ because we lack the confidence and guideposts to move past dream to action. I struggle with this daily. We are often our own worst critic and it is easier to say ‘I could never do that’ or ‘I won’t do well in this job, so I’m giving up.’ Remember that every failure is an opportunity to learn – but you have to try. And with clear planning you find resolve has a map – you have a guide and you can transform your life and career goals with action.
Eating the frog stopping our pattern of procrastination dead in its tracks. So many work and personal tasks we dread get pushed aside or we self sabotage our success because we don’t ‘eat the frog.’ We avoid the challenges and things we feel uncomfortable with. In sales, for me, this is cold calling. I’m very good at it by trade, but it is tedious. I get anxious. I’m sure many of my fellow sales professionals have the same challenge. We worry about rejection.
The problem is in sales you have to generate pipeline – you have to prospect – even when you are a top performer. You have to eat the frog – by picking up the phone.
Brian Tracy wrote a book on this concept – and popularized the ‘eat the frog’ mantra in sales. I recommend his book.
For me this year – eating the frog is:
- setting real goals and tying it down with a timeline. In sales you have to ask the buyer to give you a timeline and hold them accountable to it…we also need to hold ourselves accountable.
- In setting these goals focus on what you can control. Don’t think about the quota – that is the destination, instead think about the journey to quota. Making dials, persistence, emailing, demos, solution presentations
- Being honest with yourself on how you can improve – do you need to practice your pitch? Would investing time into personal sales development help you worker smarter, not harder?
- Time management is the crux here – you need to put the FROGs in your life first. Prospect first, don’t leave it until the end of the day. Block off your calendar for important tasks and hold yourself accountable to your schedule (as you are able – things do come up.)
The thing for me – and I’m guessing for you as well is when I don’t eat the frog (prospecting in this example) I feel anxious anyway – it is a heavy cross I carry because I know I’m avoiding what I need to do and until that gets done I’m shackled to that ‘frog.’
For me sales is a passion, but it is not my life and your job should not control your life either. When you don’t eat the frog you steal time from you personal life – because you have to catch up on that tedious work later in the day/after hours, or it weighs heavy on your mind after work until you get it done.
This principle can be applied to any difficult task in your life, not just sales. Cleaning your house? Going to the dentist.
What I encourage you to do is to start the New Year by making a list of your work and personal goals. Think about what real actions you need to do to get there. Create a roadmap with time management. Block off time for prospecting/cleaning. Reward yourself with fun activities once you have completed your hard tasks (i.e. I love to paint so if I finish work on time I can paint and watch a silly Hallmark movie).
Be kind to yourself and realize this is a process – we need to eat the frog, but is a hard adjustment and don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day – remember to start again and be persistent and focused. Also I recommend teaming up with a friend/co-worker who can be an accountability partner so you both can stay on track of your goals. Your buddy is to encourage and help you on the journey. Support is key here.
And while we tend to focus on BHAG (big hairy audacious goals) for New Years – it is okay to start small and have tiers of goals. Actionable now – what can I do this week. Long term – where to I want to be in five years and how to I get there.
It is important to break your goals down each day and adjust them as needed (sales is ever fluid day to day). Scalability, Accountability and Actionable prioritization with time management is key. It may be different in how it looks depending on your organizational/sales style – but should include those key ingredients.
I look forward to sharing my goals and action steps in the coming week. I look forward to hearing from you as well!
I know we can make great things happen in 2022 if we work together and focus on not the destination as much as the journey. Action steps and eating ‘frogs’ so we can mark our checklist complete and enjoy life to the full. 2022 is a blank page. Yes we have some crud left over from the past – but God has a plan – you have a chance for great things this year. Let it go and ‘eat that frog’
My action/frog to tackle this week is to be more engaged in prospecting and create an account plan for January – what are your weekly goals?
“Commit everything you do to the LORD and He will help you.” Psalm 37.5
One of my favorite verses because it reminds me when I focus on what I can control in life and in my job it works out. Maybe not the way I realized, but God has a plan. We have to commit ourselves to new beginnings and take difficult steps -but it will be worth it. Thanks for joining me on this journey.