From March to April 2020, my speaking business came to a standstill in a matter of weeks. All my booked speeches canceled and many clients asked for refunds on deposits they had paid. No one knew how long it would be before live events took place again, and no one felt ready to book online programs yet. We also knew very little about the virus and I was living in New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic at the time. I was grateful to have my health, the health of my family, and my savings account. But, like so many other entrepreneurs, I was also very frightened about the future of my business.
Despite that fear and the abrupt halt of business during that time, I knew it was important to do little things to try to advance my professional goals. In my new book Recalculating: Navigate Your Career Through the Changing World of Work, I talk about this rule: prioritize action. I sent check-in emails to find out how clients were faring. I commented on the LinkedIn posts of fellow authors, consultants, and speakers. I wrote how-to articles with tips on working from home. (Note that I did these things while also eating my body weight in peanut M&M’s every day, so I’m not saying my process was perfect in any way.) The goal was to keep pushing myself forward, even the tiniest bit, despite the incredibly challenging circumstances. Slowly but surely, speaking inquiries began to flow back in.
Starting with merely the smallest action has a dual benefit: First, you get the benefit of whatever action you take. Second, you get the benefit of momentum. It is much easier to take a second, third, or fourth action once you’ve taken
the first one. So decide in advance that whenever you face a bump in the road, you will take a tiny action toward your goal. Momentum and consistency are secret superpowers. In the words of Ovid, “Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
Here is a list of small actions that can help you build momentum in a variety of ways, depending on your unique goals. Come back to this list whenever you feel overwhelmed by challenges or frustrations on your recalculation path and you need to kick-start your momentum again.
❑❑ Improve one sentence on your LinkedIn profile.
❑❑ Add one new key word to your résumé that you’ve noticed in job descriptions that appeal to you.
❑❑ Attend one webinar on job hunting, entrepreneurship, or any professional topic that appeals to you.
❑❑ Declutter one item from your workspace or background to create a more professional environment for video calls and virtual meetings and interviews.
❑❑ Listen to one podcast episode related to your current industry or an industry you’d like to work in.
❑❑ Research a list of most common job interview questions and draft your answer to one of them.
❑❑ Expand your distance search criteria on a jobs site by a five- mile radius.
❑❑ Follow one potential employer or client on Twitter or LinkedIn.
❑❑ Google and read one article or watch one TikTok on how to perform well in a job interview or salary negotiation.
❑❑ Text three friends to ask how they landed their most recent job or promotion or had a success in their business.
❑❑ Connect with three former classmates or colleagues on LinkedIn.
❑❑ Volunteer one hour of time, virtually or in person, to a cause that is important to you.
❑❑ Request to join one LinkedIn or Facebook group in your industry or desired industry.
❑❑ Sign up for one new industry- or career-related e-newsletter.
❑❑ Reach out to one person you know professionally and ask if you can do anything to support them.
❑❑ Respond to a blog or LinkedIn post by a leader in an organization or industry that interests you.
❑❑ Send a thank-you note or email to someone who has supported you.
There is no reason to stop these career-building actions even after you achieve your current goal. Imagine where you can end up if you just take one little action every single day, now and forever?