For about five years I taught a microbusiness course for migrant and refugee women. It was  one of the most satisfying things I have done. Loved it.

One day, we were discussing the things that get in the way of making time to think creatively about your business. A popular topic was procrastination, another was perfectionism (no surprises here…). One of my students summed it all up with an expression from India, her home country: Talk doesn’t cook rice.

I love it. Talk doesn’t cook rice. When I googled it later, turns out it’s a big mantra in China, too. I think maybe it’s time it entered the Australian vernacular…

The expression resonated with me because I love colourful expressions and use metaphor all the time. But it also connected because I am an expert at procrastination, at putting off the actions I know I need to do to finish my (many) projects. I love researching, thinking and discussing possibilities, coming up with endless ideas. There’s nothing wrong with this as such, it is an essential part of thinking creatively. But there is a stage where the idea is ‘good enough’ to put into action, and yet there I am, doing yet more lovely research, thinking and discussion.

I know myself pretty well though, so I have developed all sorts of strategies that work for me in moving past this unproductive state of mind, including:

  • Doing very little steps towards my goal, every day
  • Rewarding myself after making that difficult call, or finalising that pitch, or whatever…
  • Telling myself I am stronger than my excuses
  • Working with my coach to keep me focused and accountable
  • Looking at my cash flow (this works a treat…)
  • Having a daily list of my top three priorities for that day
  • Asking myself whether something is ‘good enough’ to be put into action
  • Outsourcing the really tricky stuff (bookkeeping, IT, some marketing activities)

What about you? What stops you cooking your rice? How do you deal with it?

Joanna Maxwell


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