1: What’s the next logical step?
I attended a workshop recently at which the speaker suggested a great question that you can ask anytime you begin to feel overwhelmed by the size of a task – for instance, writing a book or losing weight or starting a business.
It is: "What’s the next logical step?"
It reminds me of taking driver’s training a long time ago, with the instructor telling me that I needed to be aware only of the cars in my immediate vicinity. Suddenly a buzzing freeway became less intimidating.
Whatever you are doing, if you just take the next logical step and then the next one and the next one, you’ll get there and with less stress than if you constantly think about the enormity of the undertaking.
Let’s revise that old Chinese saying to: "The journey of a thousand miles begins and continues with the next logical step."
Action: Is there a large task or project you’ve avoided because it seems too daunting? What’s the first (or next) logical step? Can you take that step today and decide what tomorrow’s next logical step will be?
2: Do you have a stupid idea?
Forbes magazine recently ran an article about some "stupid" business ideas that took off. Here are a few:
3: Make an Edison list and a Plan
The other day I saw a facsimile of Thomas Edison’s invention to-do list. On it, he wrote down all the things he planned to invent, including an electric piano, a hearing apparatus for the deaf and ink for the blind. He didn’t succeed in coming up with practical versions of everything on his list, but he claimed that his Menlo Park, New Jersey, lab produced an innovation every ten days.
Do you have a list of what you hope to achieve? One format that is a good model is what Kevin Roberts (Saatchi &Saatchi) calls his 100-Day Plans. These consist of ten items, each starting with a verb and containing no more than three words. Some examples: Reach 15 percent body fat; Organize office systems; Finish writing novel. They give you big targets you can then break down into smaller steps.
Action: To start with, why not come up with at least one "45-Day Plan" – something you want to achieve by the end of the year. What is one achievement that would make you feel good about ending 2010? Generate your three-word goal, then chunk it down into what you need to do each week. At the start of the new year, switch to one or more 100-Day Plans and keep the momentum going.
Wait! It’s not too late to get started this year by joining my Writing Breakthrough Strategy Program now. Of course, you could wait and make it a New Year’s resolution…how’s that worked for you in the past? Go to jurgenwolff.com and decide whether you prefer the group program or the one-to-one version and sign up. Let’s work together to help you create your book or screenplay – starting Now!
I had a one-to-one coaching session the other day in which one of my clients revealed that she has only recently recognized that she suffers from perfectionism. She said, "I used to think I was just dedicated to doing a good job."
This is not uncommon! Most perfectionists are blissfully unaware that they have this affliction. Like this client, they believe they are just conscientious and committed to doing things well. To check whether it could be you, here’s a 30-second quiz:
- Do you miss deadlines because you want to make sure everything is just right?
- Do you have a hard time stopping when you’ve reached "good enough" even on projects or tasks that are not especially important?
- Do you put off or avoid starting projects because you fear you won’t be able to do them well enough to live up to your own expectations?
Action: If you are a perfectionist, choose one task or project for which "good enough" is good enough (if you can’t think of any, ask friends, family or co-workers) and then take it to that level. Force yourself to stop or to hand it in at that point, even if this makes you anxious. Then note whether or not the world ends. If not, do it again, until you become less compulsive about doing everything perfectly.
5: The persuasion principle
At work or in our private lives, we all have to try to persuade people to agree with us from time to time. What’s the best approach? Should we give only our side and pretend there are no good reasons not to agree?
A meta-analysis of more than 100 studies on this topic suggests that the most effective thing is to present the other side – but only if you present counter-arguments. If you pretend that there isn’t another view, the audience finds you less credible.
Action: What’s the next persuasion situation you anticipate? Can you plan to present counter-arguments and defuse them? Try it, and if this is a different approach than the one you normally use, notice the difference in how receptive the other parties are.
6: And a quote to consider:
"Everyone who has ever taken a shower has had an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference." – Nolan Bushnell
Until next time, Jurgen
PS: If you haven’t looked at my blog recently, you’ve missed posts on how to engage with your Inner Critic, the secret of comedy, why so many stories fail, the difference between "yes and" and "yes but" in writing and in your personal life, and much more. You can check it out right now at timetowrite.blogs.com.
PPS: The Writing Breakthrough Strategy makes a great Christmas present – you can sign up a friend or family member, and we can send the recipient a gift card and allow them to choose the date they want to start.