By Tracie Chancellor
Easier Said Than Done
Working from home is one of those things easier said than done. I often use the analogy of gym membership.
Do you know anyone who has signed up for a gym membership but then never actually darkened the door of the gym?
Sure. We all know people who have done that. In fact, the gyms expect 90% of the people who join to drop out within a few months.
The question is why. Why do people join a gym and then not go?
The reasons are the same. Obstacles to successfully working from home are the same as those faced when joining a gym. It’s harder than it looks and it helps to examine why. We can slay the dragons when we can see them.
Don’t Be A Statistic
The attraction of working from home is powerful. It so popular now, it can even be described as a movement, and that’s pre dating COVID-19. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of setting our own hours and having more freedom, just as we join a gym because we love the idea of looking and feeling good in our own bodies. These are worthy ideas. On the darker flip side however, invisible, daunting obstacles can catch people by surprise and hinder progress. Let’s take a look at why working from home is so hard, like joining a gym.
The Obstacle: No Immediate Results
Deferred gratification is not popular compared to immediate gratification. I mean, how many kids do you know who say yes, give me the broccoli instead of the ice cream? Yet deferred gratification is what we are selling with our job and it’s the same for the gym. Our work from home job is very much like the gym experience. Most people throw in the towel long before they begin to see the benefits. With a new job making outbound calls, there is ramp up time and a learning curve that takes weeks and months to see significant monetary results. Although the benefits are many and the pay is high, like gym results, believing and sticking with it is difficult for many when they can’t see immediate results.
Much of the time, our culture doesn’t help. We are immersed in a culture of immediate gratification and a societal norm “I’ll believe it when I see it”. However, there are tools to help us slay the “no immediate results” dragon.
The Remedy: Believe It, Then You’ll See It
Dr. Wayne Dyer has a book called “You’ll See It When You Believe It” that can help bridge the gap between the desire to see immediate results and the long game of commitment and discipline to a slow and often tedious process.
It is possible to unplug from negative thoughts. We don’t have to like the gym workout while we are doing it. We just have to do it anyway and keep going.
Visual imagery is helpful in addition to reading. It helps to post images of your goals in places you see daily. We can also post images of hard evidence of others who are already achieving the goals you want to set for yourself.
The Obstacle: Path of Least Resistance
Unless there’s a personal trainer or a workout buddy waiting for us at the gym, it’s easy to take the path of least resistance to do less reps, less weights, skip machines, skip class or just skip getting in the car to drive to the gym. We face the same issues when working from home. It’s easy to let the work schedule slip because the laundry, the casserole, the kids or the neighbor calls. If we don’t take serious measures to fight against the path of least resistance, we may glance at the clock and see that 30 minutes or an hour of precious dial time has flown by. Sadly, we can’t get back time once it has passed. If we allow the path of least resistance, our weight stays the same or worse, our pay stays the same.
Flexibility is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. On one hand, flexibility is a beautiful concept both in working from home and working out at the gym however, we must guard against how easy it is for flexible hours to morph into no hours. When working from home, nobody is looking over your shoulder. It’s up to us to be deliberate, intentional creators of our own structure and our own schedule.
The Remedy: Self Inflicted Discipline
How can we map out the high road and barricade out the dreaded path of least resistance? There are tools we can use to basically force ourselves into good health and wealth working from home.
Let’s call it self-inflicted discipline. Here are some forms of self-inflicted discipline:
- Set a schedule, blocks of time throughout the week
- Write it in ink, not pencil on a calendar
- Set alarms for yourself
- Make lists
- Keep written goals
- Maintain a positive, well lit, quiet work space
- Notify your family and friends not to disrupt you during work time
- Get an accountability partner
- Take planned breaks
- Reward yourself for meeting goals
- Plug yourself into an organization that has built in accountability so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
The Obstacle: Isolation, Lack of Connection
My little granddaughter and sometimes her friend, go with me to the gym. They are 12, too young to drive but old enough to join the gym. They count on me to drive them plus the gym doesn’t allow them to go without an adult. They don’t know it, but they help me rail against the enemy of isolation. I look forward to the gym because Zumba is more fun with high energy, happy young people. I want to go anyway but their presence helps me lock my gym schedule in with cement. They count on me to help them but they help me too.
Like the gym, working from home can be a lonely gig. People can feel isolated. The same tools that help with your workout, apply to working from home.
The Remedy: Get Social
There are forms of social connection plus forms of self-inflicted discipline that help with both working from home and the gym. Statistics show that people with these human connections are more successful than relying solely on the various non-human technology tools.
With the gym, there are three things that work well vs. going it alone; 1) going with a friend, 2) going to a class and 3) having a personal trainer. All of these are forms of social connections plus forms of self-inflicted discipline.
The same thing is true for working from home. When working from home, people can feel isolated, lose focus, lose interest and quit. When people feel social connections at work, they look forward to going to work and are more engaged and productive. A positive work environment can energize people who might otherwise lose energy or get depressed when on their own. Our virtual call center strives for the best of both worlds, people come into the headquarters for one-week segments to work with top producers, and then return to work in their own home offices. It is easier to form connections when you meet people in person and those connections live on when working remotely.
There are many more people successfully working from home than 20 years ago and there are more legitimate opportunities to work from home today, however, the fact remains that working from home is still harder in many ways than working in a physical office with other humans. Being aware of the obstacles and having a good plan in place, can accelerate success.
A Winning Combination
Social connections and self-inflicted discipline are a winning combination. Work life balance, being there for your family, spending less time commuting and saving the environment are all worthy of the extra effort. Add believing to the mix and you have become an unstoppable force to living the life of your dreams.
Believing + Self Inflicted Discipline + Social Connections = Health and Wealth Success Working From Home
Here’s to your health and wealth.
About the Author
Tracie Chancellor, CEO and Founder of TeleReach Corporate, national business to business call center specializing in sales appointment setting and lead generation, based in Houston, Texas. Chancellor is an MBA graduate of the University of Houston with over 20 years hands-on sales and marketing experience, working with privately-held businesses, universities, non-profit organizations, as well as Fortune businesses in the business to business marketing space.