Avoiding Groundhog Day Syndrome

As I sit down to write this post, it’s January 30th.

In 2 more sleeps it will be February – and 8% of the year will have passed.

It’s about this time when those big plans we laid in late December or early January get forgotten – or we realize that we’ve “bitten off more than we can chew” – and sometimes we find ourselves falling into old ruts and habits.

(Or maybe that’s just me?)

Today’s video (and post – scroll down for the text) are written to help you break out of that Groundhog Day trap.

The inspiration for this post comes from one of my all time favourite movies: Groundhog Day.

In the movie, Bill Murray lives the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over and over again – until he learns what he needs to learn.

(This movie came out in 1993. That’s TWENTY FOUR years ago! #feelingold #areyoukiddingme)

We often do this with our businesses: repeating the same things over and over again – whether those things are serving us or not.

Before we get started: sometimes repeating stuff is good!

When you know something will work, it’s like being able to predict the future. Do this; get that.

If you’re doing something that works – keep doing it!

Sometimes in our quest to be creative, we change things we should leave alone (and vice versa.)

If you’re getting good results, don’t re-invent the wheel. Instead, turn it into a repeatable system:

  • Create a checklist of steps
  • Turn it into a template
  • Track your results and continue to improve

In these cases, don’t let YOUR boredom take you off the course – carry on.

Today, however, we’re going to talk about the stuff we keep doing that doesn’t work.

Doing the same things and expecting different results = insanity

Hey! She stole my line.

Yet we do it all the time.


Here are 5 Groundhog Day Traps to look out for – along with some tips to avoid them.

1. Lack of Perspective

We all have blind spots.

I often say that “we can’t read the labels on our own jars.” A business coach friend of mine says “we can’t see the whole picture because we’re stuck inside the frame.”

If you’ve ever been in a close personal relationship with someone, you know how easy it is to see the dumb ass things they’re doing, yet be blissfully unaware of our own missteps.

This unawareness costs us.

The solution? Ask for Feedback.

It can be humbling (and a bit nerve-wracking) to actually ask someone to “constructively criticize” your work or your behaviour.

And it makes you better. (If you act on it.)

Make sure you choose a good source for feedback – choose someone you respect who has your best interests at heart.

People to seek feedback from:

  • Your Clients – ask them what you’re doing that’s helpful and invite their suggestions to improve your services
  • A coach/consultant/advisor/mentor – can give you perspective based on their professional knowledge and experience
  • Trusted colleagues – just beware of “group think” (if you’re in the same industry or have taken the same courses, you may all have the SAME blind spots)

2. Overconfidence

Overconfidence often looks like this!

It takes a significant amount of self-confidence to go into business for yourself. You need to believe in yourself, your ideas, your ability to “pull it off.”

Sometimes that overconfidence keeps you from facing reality.

Sheer determination and belief that you have the “right” idea can mean persisting too long with something that isn’t working and/or ignoring messages and signals that what you’re doing isn’t landing.

(If you’ve ever watched Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank, you’ve seen these situations. People who are so invested in business ideas that aren’t working, who refuse to take advice and end up broke and destitute. It seems like everyone can see that the idea won’t fly…except them.)

The answer here? Listen to the feedback!

The final choice is always yours, but pay attention to what people are telling you (especially if you hear the same things over and over again.)

Here’s the quote I tried to remember on the video:

“If one person tells you you’re a horse , they are crazy. If three people tell you you’re a horse, there’s conspiracy afoot. If ten people tell you you’re a horse, it’s time to buy a saddle”

― Jack Rosenblum

At the very least, listen to what the market is telling you. If no one is buying, investigate why.

3. Sunk Costs

My dad would describe sunk costs as “throwing good money after bad.”

Just because you’ve invested time, effort or money into something, doesn’t mean it’s good and it doesn’t mean you should continue doing it.

I’ve come up against this more than a few times with people who invested significant amounts of money into graphic design for a “brochure style” website that might look nice, but isn’t helpful for marketing.

When I suggest a change, I hear: “I spent thousands of dollars on my website already. I’m not willing to spend any more.” (An equally valid statement might be: “I spent thousands of dollars chiseling this rock. I’m not willing to also put money into a website.”)

The reality of sunk costs is that the money/time/effort is gone. It’s history. Today is a new day and you have the opportunity to make a decision based on your current reality. But we don’t. We get emotionally attached to things that we’ve invested in and we give them more weight than we should.

The answer? Detach yourself.

This can be difficult.

Here’s a little mind trick I use: imagine that you just bought your business from a stranger.

You’re walking in with fresh eyes and looking at everything you’ve purchased: past client list, website, marketing materials, products and services, prices, customer service policies, work schedule, marketing plan…everything.

You weren’t part of the business’s history. Any money spent wasn’t yours. You have no relationship with any clients/suppliers/employees.

From this perspective: what choices do you make?

4. Staying within your comfort zone

No need to jump right into the panic zone!

For some people, this often looks like: more thinking, more research or making changes to service packages.

For others it looks like more networking in groups they are comfortable with (but don’t result in new business.)

One extremely popular option is “getting more education.” Whether it’s taking an advanced course in your profession or signing up for yet another “make money the easy way” course, this is often a bid to avoid venturing out beyond your comfort zone.

What to do? Nudge outward.

Being in business for yourself is the biggest, baddest personal development program you’ll ever take. You will need to expand outside your comfort zone and do things that are unfamiliar.

The good news is that it really does get easier over time. These days I’m completely comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. Before I joined Toastmasters in the late 1990’s I was pee-my-pants terrified of it.

You don’t have to dive right into the deep end and do something crazy like attend a conference in your pajamas to overcome fear of rejection. You can wade in slowly – just make sure you start to get wet!

In other words: eat that frog!

5. Unquestioned habits

Evaluation: one of the most under-rated skills an entrepreneur can have!

Sometimes we do the same things over and over again out of routine rather than conscious reflection.

Out of habit, we attend the same networking event every week – without realizing that it costs us several hours of time – but we haven’t gotten any business from it. We write blog post after blog post without checking to see if anyone is actually reading. (Is anyone reading this? Anyone? Bueller?)

Sometimes the activities are fine…but the way we’re doing them can be better.

The solution? Review and evaluate everything.

I set aside time every week to review the previous week and I ask these questions:

  • What went well?
  • What didn’t go well?
  • What can I do differently?

I also ask those questions after every speaking event, every workshop, every sales conversation and even after many of my coaching sessions.

This practice breaks me out of my unquestioned habits and helps me continually improve what I’m doing.

Summary: 5 tips to avoid Groundhog Day Syndrome

  1. Get some outside perspective. (Maybe hire a coach?)
  2. Listen to feedback, consider other views
  3. Beware of sunk costs – periodically look at your business through a stranger’s eyes
  4. Nudge outside your comfort zone and do that thing you’re avoiding
  5. Question your habits: review and evaluate, make new choices

Want to avoid having this year become a “Ground Hog Day” repeat of last year?

Perhaps I can help: More money, more clients marketing plan