What To Do When There Is Too Much To Do

You might have read my post on becoming a business analyst and found it a big pill to swallow. I need to map my transferable skills, focus my job search, and start building business analyst experiences?

There is so much to do!

And I must do it all right now!

But You Don’t Have To Do It All Right Now

While it can feel very necessary to get started right away, I have some very good news for you.  It’s not necessary to do this all at once. In fact, it’s preferable to take small steps. One step will lead to another. And the steps will get easier the farther you go.

But now comes the hard part–the part that causes stress. You have to take that first step. And what should it be? You can get started in any one of many possible ways.

But there’s more good news for you.

It really doesn’t matter what step you take first. While one step could theoretically be better than any other, any step will take you further towards your career goals than where you are today.

And while we’re giving out good news, there’s one more thing.

The sooner you take one step forward, the sooner you can take the next step forward. And the more information you’ll have to decide what your next step could be.

Get moving now; make better decisions later. But if you are still stuck, keep reading. There’s something important lurking and you sure better deal with it if you ever want to step up and create opportunities.

But Be Sure to Deal With This First

As you consider a next step, you might find this makes you a bit nervous or anxious. Doing something we’ve never done before can be uncomfortable. It feels risky.

  • What if we fail?
  • What if we look stupid?
  • What if our boss reprimands us or, even worse, laughs at us?

These are all legitimate concerns. You could fail, look stupid, or get laughed at. (I can’t have good news all time time, can I?)

If you are worried with thoughts like this, I challenge you to ask yourself about the alternative.

What will happen if you do nothing?

Doing nothing, although it feels comfortable, can be more risky than doing something, even if that something proves to be the wrong thing. I’ve heard from hundreds business analysts in my years hosting Bridging the Gap who are unexpectedly out of work after a long career in one job. They worked away at that job dutifully, but with their heads in the sand, assuming that the comfort they had would last. Unemployment is the worst kind of discomfort.

But enough gloom and doom, let’s talk about the fear that surfaces when thinking about doing something new – something that we might fail at, look stupid doing, or cause us to get laughed at. First of all, recognize this is a legitimate feeling. Our minds are hard-wired to resist change and respond with fear when change approaches.

One technique I’ve used to overcome this natural fear is to envision the worst that can happen and embrace it as the reality of my situation. When you do this, you open up your creative juices and put yourself in a position to improve upon the worst.

Here’s a Quick Way to Get Started

Let’s take an example. Say you think a good next step – a bit of a stretch goal –  would be to build a better relationship with a particular stakeholder that is a key contributor for one of your projects, but with whom you’ve never really hit it off. You might decide that a good step would be to invite the person to coffee and just have an informal conversation but the idea paralyzes you with fear.  I’ve been there. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve neglected to do the obvious thing to improve my situation because it seemed unnatural or scary. But if you take the perspective of imagining the worst that can happen, this feeling starts to seem quite silly.

Honestly, what’s the worst that can happen if you invite someone to coffee? They could say no. They could laugh at the idea. They could tell you they don’t have the time. But even in these negative scenarios, you’ve acquired some new information. You know a bit more about your stakeholder’s priorities and where you stand. And they know you are interested in them. Even if their reaction is negative, you may have opened the door of the relationship just a small bit. Even the worst case scenario isn’t all that bad. I mean, it’s very unlikely you’d get fired over something like this, right?

But let’s look at how you can you go about improving upon even the worst possible situation.

  • You could do a bit of research and discover what kind of breaks this person takes and then change your suggestion to fit their schedule and preferences. This ups your chances of a positive response.
  • You could be sure to stop by and ask at the best possible time, when they are most likely to be receptive to your idea. You can start the conversation with a smile.
  • You can start the conversation by asking a question that you know will get a “yes” response, such as “wow, this project has sure taken some unexpected turns, don’t you think?”.

Once you accept that you might be told no, you have nothing to lose and you open your mind to uncover ways to secure a positive response.

Stop Reading and Do This

My charge to you today is to find one small step, overcome the fear, and take it. Don’t just talk about doing something or plan to do something, do something. And by taking that step, you’ll begin to minimize the stress of career advancement. Because the first step is almost always the most difficult.

(But before you do that, be sure to swing by and sign-up for our free BA career planning course. Then go take your small step! No other delays!)

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