How to Make Progress on What Really Matters


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Business owners are inherently busy people.

We have a ton on our plates at any given time and our to-do lists can seem out of control – and not just in our professional lives!

No one, not even the smartest, most organized people in the world, can have 150 priorities and expect to attend to all of them, let alone move forward with them.

This is where focus and the ability to say no come into play.

How many of those to-dos and tasks align with our goals and our top priorities in life?

How many will truly help us, and our businesses, become more successful?

The Greek philosopher Archimedes once said,

“Give me a firm place to stand and a lever and I can move the Earth.”

In general, the idea behind leverage is to do more with less.

Here are 3 simple questions that will help you clear your huge to do list, work less, and make progress on what really matters.

Question 1: What’s your ONE Thing?

In the book “The One Thing” by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, the authors suggest using a focusing question:

“What’s the one thing I can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

This is an executive leadership question. 

It requires looking at your long list of to-do’s and thinking creatively.

What’s ONE thing you could do that would eliminate a bunch of items at once? Or at least make them easier?

When they first start working with me, nearly all of my clients can answer this question with “hire a VA.

Hiring a VA is a great way to not only free up time, but to also take items off your list that you don’t enjoy doing. (Or aren’t very good at!)

Question 2: Where do you add the most value in your business?

Another variation of the “One Thing” question that I like to ask:

“What’s the one thing in your business that no one else can do as well as you?”

This question gets to the heart of the value that you offer.

When I asked myself this question in January of 2018, the answer was “talk.”

Talk to clients. Talk to prospects.

No one else could do those things as well as I could. So I decided to structure my business so that the ONLY thing I did was talk.

This meant that everything else in my business needed to get done by someone else.

As a result of implementing this ONE thing, I’ve grown my business by a multiple of 5.

Want to find your one thing?

Start by doing this skill/fun box exercise.

Question 3: What’s the immediate next step towards the results you want?

When I first started as a coach and I was trying to get my practice off the ground, I was stressed.

Every night, I was tossing and turning in fear. Worrying about what might happen if I couldn’t get the business going. How would I pay the bills?

Then I had a bit of insight. I turned 180 degrees and looked in the other direction.

Instead of looking far into the future and imagining the worst, I asked myself a more empowering question: “What can I do tomorrow?”

Who are my best three prospects? What can I do to take them one step closer to becoming a client?

When I focused on these immediate next actions, the worry went away.

Whenever you find yourself stuck or trapped in “analysis paralysis” or overthinking the many possibilities and future plans, take a moment to to ask yourself the question:

“What’s the immediate next step towards the results I want?”

Then take action.

Is your one thing to hire a business coach?

At the risk of sounding self-serving, deciding to get professional support is often an excellent “one thing” decision.

A good coach can help you set your goals and priorities, take action towards improving your business, and provide insights and advice that can shave months (or even years) off your learning curve.

If you’d like to see if business coaching could help you reach your goals faster, I invite you to book 15 minutes on my calendar to chat: book time with John

Free E-Book: Ultimate Guide to Time Management and Productivity

ultimate guide to time management cover

How to escape overwhelm and gain time freedom in your business

This guide includes my best advice and coaching exercises to help you:

  • Get control of your email and calendar
  • Prioritize your most important tasks
  • Become more productive than you ever thought possible

Ready to free up 5-7 hours per week? Download this guide today!

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