The Power of Big Work

I keep a large whiteboard on a wall in my office for my to-do list.

Every day, I make a point of crossing off items. It’s satisfying, at the end of day, to look over at the board and see six or eight tasks crossed out. The next morning, I erase the crossed-out items, add new items, and get to work. It’s become my little ritual.

But after a few weeks, I noticed something.

There were about eight items that stayed on the list, day in and day out.

Some weren’t particularly difficult or time-consuming. Others were. But I couldn’t see the common thread connecting those items. I just knew they weren’t getting done.

Every day, I got a bit more annoyed. Surely there was something wrong with those items — that’s why I wasn’t doing them. I was very busy, I was getting many things done, but somehow I kept avoiding those items.

Finally, I understood the common thread. All those things were big work.

Often we spend our days in little work. We’re editing, emailing, tweaking our websites, depositing checks, reacting, resetting.

But breakthroughs come from big work.

Big work is scary. Big work involves risk. Big work might fail.

One of my “big work” to-do items was writing a marketing letter that I planned to send to 100 companies. The initial draft was a 30-minute project, so it wasn’t time-consuming. But it was emotionally consuming. It had weight and worry.

I could write it, send it, and it could fail. That letter could set my business back, challenge the value of my niche, knock a hole in my confidence, and interfere with my ability to feed my family.

In other words, that letter was a big deal. It was big work. So I made subconscious excuses for not doing it.

But we grow by doing big work. And becoming a copywriter is another example of big work.

Let’s face it, taking the step to become a writer is a big deal. It has weight and worry. There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot of planning and strategy to be done. Most people struggle with psychological resistance to change. It’s usually hard to do the big work to become a copywriter, making the move took me years.

This big work is available to you as soon as you decide to do it. But you’re not doing it alone.

Everyone associated with AWAI is here to help. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a question, concern, or obstacle to overcome, and AWAI’s come through for me.

They’re amazing at building programs that create writers. But you have to embrace the big work. AWAI offers ample opportunity — but you have to commit.

But, I should offer one caveat.

There’s never the perfect time to do big work.

Big work can be done on the train or on a plane. I’ve done big work in coffee shops or at the kitchen table. Waiting until the stars align or you have a new computer is just an application of excuses.

You’ll have to dig in, make it your own, and drive for results.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m taking my own advice. I’m off to work on the special report I’ve been futzing with for two months. It’s big work — and I have to get it done.

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Published: July 9, 2012

1 Response to “The Power of Big Work”

  1. Big work can be divided into smaller tasks.

    That way, big work can be managed more efficiently and you can have a feeling of productivity.

    There is an excellent time for big work.

    That time is when you feel you are in alignment with the flow of nature.

    That flow of nature is your time for peak performance.

    For some, that is early in the morning; others are night owls.

    Save the big tasks for when you feel most fresh and alert during the day.

    You can get a lot more done that way.

    Thanks for the timely reminder.

    Archan Mehta

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