Groundhog Day Resolution Review 3/3/2010: Getting Concrete

SUMMARY: In my first Groundhog Day Resolution Review for 2010, I lay out a heady set of plans for the coming month, expanding on the themes from February 2nd to become more specific about what I want to do.

Huzzah, it’s time for the first Groundhog Day Resolutions Resolution Review Day of the year! If you’re new to this series, I review my past month’s accomplishments (or lack thereof) on 3/3, 4/4, 5/5 and so on (10 times a year) to make sure I am following through on my resolutions. The days are easy to remember.

As I wrote in this year’s kickoff on February 2nd, in my review of the past three years of Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDRs) I saw an overview pattern in my goal making, which was the desire to make a good living with people I like and respect. I like this phrasing much better than the way I expressed it originally:

OLD MASTER GOAL: To create with and be around people I like and respect, and make an honest buck

It’s that last bit about the “honest buck” that bugs me. I let it stand because it was an accurate expression of what I needed to do: make money so I can afford to sustain myself and my community. It just feels so tacked-on, and it’s even a little glib in a way I don’t like. So let the record show that I’ve remodeled my master goal:

NEW MASTER GOAL: To make a good living with people I like and respect.

Last month, I also went so far as to create a master goal tracking sheet that put everything I’ve learned over the past five years about myself onto a single page. Paraphrasing heavily, this boils down to the following:

  • Building a mechanism to create the “good living”: creating packages, recruiting people, committing to making 10 new products, and publicly offering it all on my website.
  • Continuing to be a part of other people’s projects in my creative community, who are the very people I like and respect. At least that part is taken care of.
  • Staying on top of my motivators, demotivators, double-edged quirks, and self-limiting beliefs.
  • Making things. Being concrete.

I used the sheet as a tracking form just once, but I also pinned it to the wall so it’s come in handy as a reminder of what’s important to me. Looking at the list today, though, I see that I need to add a few more insights related to the hard part of making resolutions: that’s following through with them!

  • First, I need to stop being lost by applying my project management skills to my own work. I think a lot of us have the expectation that our “life work” should be easier and breezier than our “corporate work”; working to improve our OWN lives, the reasoning follows, should FEEL the way our desired FREEDOM feels. That may be the case when we’re there, but at the very beginning this is a falsehood. Work is work, and I’ve slowly realized that I have been too dreamy about it. I need to define DATES AND DELIVERABLES, and actively MANAGE CONTINUITY within the CONTEXT of WHAT WILL BE MEASURABLY ACHIEVED. Without that, you don’t get anywhere. It’s time to trade in my mentor cap for the project manager’s hard hat.

  • Although I hate admitting it, building stuff feels hard for me, which is why I need to do project management and break the steps down across multiple days. I also need to give myself the time and the room to get the tasks done. This is difficult, because one of my major demotivators is my impatience with deferred payoff. This is pretty deeply buried, and it’s only recently that I’ve realized that the many small-but-immediately-gratifying things I do are a form of productive procrastination. That explains my entire 2009. The pragmatic part of me knows deep down that the really GOOD stuff results from heroic effort, which means committing to the uncertainties of creative war. My creative war currently consists of building and expanding my website to accommodate product descriptions and listing, and I need to write up what they are to take a stand. I foresee wrestling with foreign database and server concepts, solving new problems with HTML, CSS and AJAX, learning new accounting procedures and starting a more scheduled review process. This is territory that I will have to battle for inch-by-inch, and it’s just incredibly daunting knowing that I will be uncomfortable, ignorant, and confused every step of the way. It’s the worst kind of deferred payoff, though I know from experience that when I look back to where I started, I’ll feel pretty good about it. It’s just so far in the future that I would rather, like, take a nap right now. Gotta push past that. I’m hanging up a picture of John Wayne on my wall to remind me.

  • Then there’s getting down to brass tacks: making a commitment to specific tasks. It’s one thing to say I’m ready for creative warfare, and it’s quite another to say, “I’m going to TAKE THAT HILL” and start flanking it. Since I am not part of a squad, there’s little point in flanking that hill, so I have to approach it directly. That’s scary. I’ve got to be like Babe Ruth pointing at the sky when he stepped up to bat. My way is to get back to solid project management and leadership, and to trust in my own competence. As someone with a lot of imagination, knowledge, and experience, it’s easy for me to imagine every way this can fail, and the additional guarantee of future discomfort and confusion creates a strong disincentive to start. In the past, I’ve pushed through this by accepting the burden of responsibility and grimly whipping myself into motion, but this time I’d like to try something different: imagining the best way things can happen instead of thinking of all the damn things that might go wrong. Heck, it’s MY imagination, right? I should take hold of it and direct it the way I see fit. The job doesn’t have to be grand and difficult and filled with images of machine gun nests and razor wire. That’s me making a big deal out of something that isn’t really that big of a deal. It’s a WEBSITE and a LIST followed by SHAKING PEOPLE’S HANDS to seal the deal. It just has to be done. Once it’s done, I can see if I can build out further.

I’ve gotten a lot of excellent general advice from my friend Gary, who has given me the mindset to think as an owner-producer instead of as a mere designer. I’ve also gotten a big boost from Stephen Smith at our knowledge exchange last week, where he showed me specific websites and examples that would help me leverage what I currently do with my design skills. The last thing to do is to create that list of products and point my bat at the sky like I own it. I’m going to start with a set of three:

  1. Website Section that Says What I Do and What You Can Get Here – This has been a long time coming. It needs to be reader and customer focused.
  2. Build a Simplified Printable CEO Download Area – This is the basis for selling e-products based on the work, which has zero cost of production other than building the site.
  3. Promote, Everywhere – I don’t naturally like to promote myself, but it is necessary. I have things I can show people, which is a prerequisite for engaging people in meaningful discussion, but I must work on extending my reach.
Looking at this list, it’s STILL abstract! What can I do to make them more tangible and less daunting? On the Google Wave with Colleen™, we were chatting about daunting steps and one of the tips she passed along was to (paraphrasing) cut the steps in half until they were simple enough to start. Let me try that with the first one:
  • Website Section that Says What I Do and What You Can Get … yes, that’s quite large, though it appears deceptively clear.
…divide in half…
  • Website Design … some HTML and CSS, somewhere.
  • What I Do and What You Get … this is a kind of list? I’ve already written something like that.
…simplify…
  • Place for Website Design … at minimum, it’s a URL naming decision that has SEO implications, but I’ll go with the first thing that pops into my mind: a subfolder.
  • List of What I Do What You Get … this exists, so I just need to collect them.
…simplify…
  • Collect the List of Things I Do
  • Collect supporting images
  • Create a page that works within the existing page template at an existing URL
  • Put the list up and link to the website
  • Get the content up within these constraints, and DON’T WORRY about redesign yet.
Hm, that wasn’t so bad, once I took “redesign entire website” out of the equation. It’s more important to have the information UP SOONER than three years from now. Following this style of reasoning, let me outline the Simplified PCEO Download Area steps:
  • Activate the “theprintableceo.com” website
  • Gather all the forms and subforms into one place
  • Create a very simple wide-aspect HTML template, based on the Agenceum templates I’ve been making
  • Get an e-junkie.com account via Stephen Smith’s affiliate link, since he’s the one who told me about it
  • Define a few e-products to download
  • Most importantly: DEFER the integration of this site into Expression Engine, because that’s a very deep rabbit hole. Use static HTML in the meantime.
Now, for Promote Everywhere:
  • Gather mailing lists from everyone who’s emailed me in the past year as source material
  • Start defining categories of people based on the emails and who I think they are, from only the first hundred emails so I don’t spend weeks doing this.
  • Build many lists, and identify what each one would be good for
  • Create a message for each group, and a place where each group can go to get more info or act
  • Post a survey on davidseah.com asking people why they read or what they’d like to see more of
  • Create a schedule for promotion

  • Gather a list of places locally that might benefit from my offerings and services

  • Put paper and cards in people’s hands directly

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p>Yeesh, that’s a lot of stuff to do in a month, but I’m going to print this out and put it up on my MANAGEMENT SHRINE WALL, right next to the John Wayne picture, to remind me what I should be doing.

Wish me luck!