Ever created a plan and the universe was just like… nah.
May I #tbt you today, even if it’s Friday? I’ll take you back to early 2017.
I had just self-published my first book, with the goal to earn enough to pay for a quarter of my son’s school tuition. (It did!) It was my first online anything ever that made money — my own money from a thing I made! — and I was very, very happy with my 3-figure launch.
At that point I’d been bombarded with trainings for 5-figure thises and 6-figure thatses and it was all so much that I had to shhhh it all out. So when the first Gumroad notifications started coming in, the first baby sales of $6… I was like, wow this is real wow I just made $24 sitting down wow wow y’all… I mean, no one talks about how amazing the small launches are, too.
But pretty soon, I’d sold to everyone I knew, and I’d already sold to everyone my mom knew. I didn’t have a huge following online, and to pay for the next installment of my son’s tuition, I had to sell a hundred more books. Just for the next installment! There are 4 a year.
Mmm. That wasn’t going to be enough.
So naturally, I said, I’m going to sell courses! Ooh, and a memebership subscription thing. More books?
I mapped everything out: if I need to pay tuition on these months, I should launch on these months, and working backwards, let’s see, so I’m creating content here, and building my list here. Yes, perfect. And with a conservative estimate of Y people signing up here, and Z people signing up there, my revenue stream will look like this… okay. Got it.
(Bless her little heart. I could pinch her naive little cheeks. Did she know she had no audience? And she didn’t have anything to teach? Because it didn’t seem like it, no?)
Spoiler alert: guess what.
Spoiler alert the second: BUT GUESS WHAT.
The goal goal. The goal of the goal.
To recap: I was at a 9–5 and I wanted to earn extra to pay for my son’s tuition. And I wanted to work from home and spend more time with the little one.
Made my own planner. Color coded everything. I was ready to take on the world. I was a woman with a binder; I was a Woman with a Plan.
A plan I accomplished approximately… oh, 0% of. None of the business things I wrote in that calendar happened.
But I also managed to pay off my son’s tuition, quit my job in July, and save enough of a buffer to pay an entire school year in full, so I never have to freak out about making the next payment.
How’d that work?
This is a retroactive analysis, i.e. I didn’t know this is what I was doing at the time. But looking back… it was totally this.
I had read a book called Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, and came across the concept of Commander’s Intent.
“[Commender’s Intent] is a crisp, plain-talk statement that appears at the top of every order, specifying the plan’s goal, the desired end-state of an operation.”
The CI never specifies so much detail that it risks being rendered obsolete by unpredictable events. “You can lose the ability to execute the original plan, but you never lose responsibility of executing the intent.”
“The trite expression we always use is, No plan survives contact with the enemy. You may start off trying to fight your plan, but the enemy gets a vote. Unpredictable things happen — the weather changes, a key asset is destroyed, the enemy responds in a way you don’t expect. Many armies fail because they put all their emphasis into creating a plan that becomes useless ten minutes into battle.”
It turns out I Commander’s Intent-ed myself.
Sure, the plan was to create courses, sell more books, and open up a membership. But the intent was always to provide my son an education and work from home.
That’s what was always at the top of my mind. That’s what I was thinking when I offered my VA services for the first time. Because it was, “How can I create this income?” versus “How can I write this course?”
^ And I did think about the course content, and the subscription, et cetera. But when that wasn’t working for me, I was able to adlib toward the goal goal. The goal of my goal. I was dodging and tumbling and 200% figuring things out, but I was somehow, miraculously, able to stumble thataway. Forward-way.
Commander’s Intent 2k18?
I know a little better now.
Do I still have my Big Plans and crunched numbers and revenue plans and anxiety from hoping to reach said crunched numbers and revenue plans? Of course.
But I also know that Thing 1 that I’m going to create isn’t the goal. Or Thing 2. Or Thing 3. (Because there are 3 again, haha.)
The goal goal, the commander’s intent, is: to provide for my son in ways that allow me to prioritize being with my son.
I’ve still got The Big Dreams. I really want to level up. Also, adulting is expensive, and that’s a thing.
But what I really really want?
Just a few extra cuddles and more ramen dates.
That’s Day 2. Thanks for reading! Missed Day 1? Here it is.
See you again tomorrow! :)