Here’s the main thing…
Every Sunday, I send a letter to my close friends. Can I send it to you?
I want to get you excited about doing your best work. My letters have productivity tactics, concepts to consider, and a dose of motivation to keep you moving. I also treat a random subscriber to a $5 Starbucks gift card each week. It’s my way of sharing a cup.
Sign up at weekly.coffee — and check out the first issue below:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”
- W.H. Murray, the Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Boldness has genius, magic, and a power in it. You like that? I did.
Be bold, reader.
That excerpt is from a book I just finished: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield(1). It’s an oldie, but well worth it.
I’m also coming off a week-long marketer’s high after attending the Traffic and Conversion Summit(2) in San Diego. You should have seen me totally fanboying over some of the speakers.
I almost didn’t start Weekly Coffee. I was afraid that it would turn out to be kind of silly, and uninteresting. I was also afraid, like everything else I do, I’d lose steam halfway through and give up on it.
Last year I started writing my first novel. I had a rhythm going. Made some great progress, like 120 pages worth of material. Then, my daughter Gianna was born. I was elated. Still am.
Having two kids proved to be a bit overwhelming. Waking up at 5am to write a novel was too difficult. After working all day and parenting, cranking out 800 words at night was creatively impossible.
But the start. The start felt great. I was finally doing it. I was making my craft a priority, and carving out the time to say, “I want this.” I miss that. I miss the fulfilment. For a while, that was my driving thing.
What’s your thing? Your fuel?
Are you waiting to start something, and you just haven’t taken the plunge? Is there something you used to do, that you now miss doing? I’m right there with you.
I’ve been flirting with the idea of picking my project back up, going back and forth, and then I stumbled upon this quote from Steven Pressfield’s book: “Do it or don’t do it.”
How simple, right? It’s either you do it, or you don’t do it.
And sure, starting is easy. Starting is the fun part, where all the adrenaline and joy kicks in. It’s sustaining the start, that’s what kicks us in the shins. I could write a whole letter on sustaining the start (and I probably will,) but don’t worry about that just yet. Just find time to get going (or if you are going, keep going.)
Verne Harnish(3) spoke the second night of Traffic and Conversion, and he said something about business that really resonated with my creative and personal pursuits as well: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Pretty sure that’s a Stephen Covey line. I love it.
What’s your main thing? What’s the thing that’s going to get you from where you are to where you want to be?
Maybe it’s a career goal― you might want to be a carpenter, a dietician, or your state’s next Governor. Maybe you just want freedom to be, or create ― you might want to be a full-time writer, podcaster, or a stay-at-home parent. It’s all about finding that bridge, starting it, and sustaining the start.
Alright, here are two tactical things I’ve been doing to prioritize my craft and keep the main thing the main thing. The first is simple, you gotta make time for it. If you have something you want, badly, whether it’s to exercise, read more, learn a language, write a book ― whatever, you need time to get at it. I’ve been managing this by blocking off 10–25 minute blocks on my Google Calendar before or after work, and writing down exactly what I wanted to accomplish. That’s the key, be very explicit. Don’t just write ‘read,’ but rather write ‘read 30 pages of Crossing the Chasm.’ When my phone dings to remind me of my ‘event,’ I can choose to do it, or be guilty not doing it.
I’ve also been using this awesome planner, The Spark Notebook(4), to manage my day-to-day. This planner forces you to set weekly, monthly, and annual goals and actually stay accountable.
The second thing I’m doing is making sure that enough content inputs are supporting my pursuits. What do I mean? I’m hooked on podcasts, blogs, books, TV, etc. If I make sure that at least 20–30% of the content I consume relates to my pursuit (writing and publishing a book,) then I can count on getting a daily dose of inspiration, education, and motivation. This keeps my mission top-of-mind.
That’s it. Make the time, tweak your inputs, and keep the main thing the main thing.
I’m going to recommend a killer album this week: Commontime, the 5th record from an English band Field Music. Pitchfork writes that the album “plays like post-punk Steely Dan — jazzy, elegant, and ultimately satisfying, but not always in the ways you expect or necessarily want.”5 I’d agree. Check it out. (Spotify |iTunes)Deepest of thanks for sharing this Sunday morning with me. It means a lot.I don’t have a catchy valediction yet (like crush it, or just do it — both taken,) so let’s just say take care and good luck out there.
P.S. Do you know someone who’s procrastinating the start of an amazing enterprise? Send this to them, or tell them that I recommend the book, The War of Art. I think it might strike a chord.
References and links:
1. The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield — http://www.stevenpressfield.com/the-war-of-art/
2. Traffic and Conversion Summit — http://www.trafficandconversionsummit.com//
3. Verne Harnish — http://www.verneharnish.typepad.com/
4. The Spark Notebook — http://www.thesparknotebook.com/
5. Pitchfork (Commontime review) — http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/21483-commontime/
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