Tag Archives: Big Things

I Am A Writer

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guest posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Mike Vardy of Productivityist.com. Vardy is also my co-host for Mikes on Mics and we share a joint newsletter called Mike Techniques. I give Vardy a fair amount of grief, but I have tremendous respect for the man and for the work he does. In the past year, he has really stepped up his game. A big part of that, at least in my opinion, is having the guts to call himself what he is, a writer and a student of productivity. Ever since fully embracing these facets of his personality, he has been making bigger and bigger things happen. Here’s how…

Turns out, I am a writer. Acknowledging this may not seem like a big deal, but embracing this fact has played a big roll in my ability to get things done regularly. I’ve struggled with the idea of getting writing done, and a lot of that stems from the time where I didn’t fully accept myself as a writer.

I put words to screen every day. I put words to paper nearly as often. If I don’t write regularly, I feel a sense of incompletion. Not just the sense that things are being left incomplete, but that I’m somehow incomplete. And that’s a very odd feeling to have.

Getting this idea through my head was almost as big as the idea itself. I’d always known I liked writing. I had a knack for it in grade school. As I grew up, I wrote as a hobby. I clearly didn’t have the responsibility I have now—being a husband and father of two—which made it all the easier to get it done well.

Turn the page to present day. I’m 38 years old, and I spend my week focused on being the best stay-at-home father I can be (I also fall down on this more often than I’d like) while trying to deliver top-notch writing on several platforms. This alone is a challenge. As if this wasn’t enough, I decided to write a book—apparently I like challenges—and got it done.

So, what does this have to do with you? By embracing myself as a writer, I freed myself up to create a system that lets me be a writer while still managing to be a good parent and good husband. Once I stopped obsessing over my role, I had far more energy to focus on making everything happen. I was able to establish a workflow (or system) to actually get things done. If you haven’t done this for yourself yet, you really should. Embrace what you want to be or to do and then determine the best way to go about doing it.

Need an example? As a writer, I needed to think about how I manage my tasks and how I actually create my words. This may seem complicated to some, but it works for me and continues to be a short-term and long-term solution for all of my productivity needs. Here are the elements of what I use to manage my tasks—including writing—and why:

  • OmniFocus: I use this as the hub for all of my stuff. Everything that is just for me and can’t be done immediately goes here, captured from a variety of sources and other apps. I use Shawn Blanc’s OopsieFocus script and the Safari web clipper for the Mac, and I use Launch Center Pro (in fact, I use Mr. Schechter’s setup) and Drafts on my iOS devices.
  • Asana: For team-based stuff, I use Asana. I also love Flow by MetaLab because the interface is similar to OmniFocus’s, but the cost is prohibitive for those who are on my teams. Asana does the job well, so I stick with it for that reason (although I’m working with some folks on a way to get Asana stuff into OmniFocus in as seamless a manner as possible).
  • My Minutes: I use this app to track all of the time spent doing what Cal Newport has called “deliberate practice.” So when I spend time writing, it goes here. Same thing with practicing guitar. Anything that I want to focus on getting better at over time is tracked using My Minutes.
  • 30/30: I use this app to grab the repeatable tasks that I do throughout the week. I tend to use 30/30 for my light-lifting days now more than my heavy-lifting ones (which I spend mainly writing). As of this writing, 30/30 gets filled with the mundane tasks, so that I can focus on what I really need and want to have my mind on during the light-lifting days—which is spending time with my kids.

That’s my task management workflow. Here’s my writing workflow.

  • Drafts: Here’s where I capture my ideas for posts, as well as anything I may want to use for research for future products and books. Everything starts in Drafts (some things become tasks that go into OmniFocus, although post ideas never go in that repository) and some things actually get completed there these days.
  • Byword: This has been my main writing tool for the blog. If I start a post on my notebook, I use Byword to create a publishable draft for the weblog, though I’ve tended to stick with Drafts if I start a post on one of my iOS devices.
  • Scrivener: The book was written in Scrivener. Only books and workbooks get written in Scrivener—nothing else does. I like to keep Scrivener as a focused writing zone for big projects only. If you’re going to write a book, it’s the best thing you can use to get that done in an effective and pleasurable way.
  • WordPress: Productivityist.com uses WordPress and serves as my weblog. When I want to post from iOS (or am going iOS-only while traveling), I use Poster for WordPress. If I’m on my notebook, I simply go straight to my site, copy the post from Byword, and post it.
  • Squarespace: I use Squarespace over at MikeVardy.com, which serves as my overarching website. It is a portal to everything that I do. I don’t often make changes to the site, so I rarely use Squarespace’s iOS app. When the need arises, I make changes through their web app.

That’s what writers do. They write and write and then they write some more. They want their words out of them and many they want them to be read. I have that need. I am a writer. And in calling myself that, I found the best way to fulfill that need.

So whatever you are, define it, figure out how you can do it best, and once you’re done, turn your attention to the thing that matters most: doing the work.

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Guide The Elephant To Get Big Things Done

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Thanh Pham of Asian Efficiency, because, well he is both Asian and Efficient. Thanh offers practical and thoughtful advice on better ways to do better work. Today he’s taking a page out of Switch, a recent book from the Heath Brothers, and is talking about elephants… you know, the metaphorical types that can help you get wherever it is you want to go.

Thanh and the team at Asian Efficiency also introduced a brand new product for OmniFocus today. If you’re looking to get more out of OmniFocus, I suggest you check it out. It offers a comprehensive strategy for getting the most out of one of my favorite applications.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re in South Africa a couple centuries ago. It’s hot, sunny, you live in the safari and you’re itching to go out and explore. One day you came up with the idea to visit Europe – the continent thousands of miles up north. It has always been your dream to explore this new continent ever since you were a little kid.

So one day you decide to take action on this. The only thing you have to do to get there is to ride your elephant all the way up north – long enough until you reach the beaches that separate Africa from Europe.

As you sit on your elephant, you check your compass and you direct your elephant to go north. The route to Europe is not complicated – you just have to check your compass and follow the arrow that points north.

Along the way, you try to follow the path that others have taken before because it provides the least amount of resistance and it gives you the smoothest journey. But most of all, it’s the fastest route to Europe.

It’s not an easy feat to go all the way from the south to the north. It’s a journey. It takes time. It takes commitment. And most of all, you always need to be aware of where you’re heading to. When you don’t know where to go or what to do, your elephant will wander off, walk around in circles and take you to other places. She will follow and do what it will want at that moment. She is much stronger than you and once she takes on its own will, there is not much you can do but it’s always your responsibility to guide the elephant into the right direction.

Why am I telling you this? It’s one of my favorite analogies for achieving big goals. You see, the rider is your logical part of the you. It’s that part of you that is conscious, can plan things, has willpower, and can make calculated decisions.

The elephant represents the emotional part of your brain. It’s much stronger than the rider and it wants to do whatever it feels like it in the moment when it’s unattended. If she’s hungry, she will go out of her way and find food. If she’s tired, she will stop and rest. The rider needs to take care of his elephant or she will do what she feels like…oftentimes detrimental to the rider’s purpose.

It’s your job as the rider to guide and nurture your elephant. If you don’t know what to do and have no clarity, the elephant certainly won’t either. She wants to follow your direction but if you can’t provide it, she will do her own thing. She just wants to live in the moment and follow her own instincts. That’s why you always have to stay on top and tell the elephant what to do to stay the course.

How does this work in today’s world? You need to know and define what your big goal is. There needs to be absolute clarity in this. What does the end result look like? Clearly define this so that once you have it, you can say to yourself, “I’ve made it.” Going to Asia is bad. Going to Ho Chi Minh City for 2 weeks in August is better. Write a book is bad. Have my book on Mac productivity published before the end of the year is better.

When you clearly know your big goal and what it looks like, you can tame your emotional self that often wants to fight you and do something else. If you can’t, it will lead to procrastination. No motivation to get things done. Half attempts and lack of effort in what you want to do. An unclear and badly defined road ahead makes it easy for you to wander off.

But you, as the rider, need to constantly remind yourself to guide the elephant. You can have sticky notes all over your office and house with your goals. You can set reminders on your calendar. You can review your goals every morning before you get to work. All these variations of you looking at your compass will help you be aware of where you need to go.

It’s this everyday awareness that will propel you to get closer and closer to your destination. It allows you to guide your elephant and take care of it. She just wants to be fed with the right information and guided. When you nurture your elephant, it will listen to you and go the extra mile for you. This means resting enough, taking breaks, having a strong reason why you’re doing this, understanding what the true benefits are of this journey, feeding it the right food and motivating her to keep going.

Once you have these two things in place, then following the path becomes easy and it will be just a matter of completing the journey. We often don’t know how to get to the final destination. We know the starting point and the destination, but the path to it is often unknown. As you go through your journey, when your elephant is not properly taken care of, it will be give in to whatever comes her way. She might be tempted by the river where other fellow elephants are and seek temporary companionship. She might want to follow another path because it’s sunnier and easier to navigate. But you need to guide her and do what’s best for the mission.

That means resisting temptation. That means staying in Friday night and working on your project. That means saying “no” to others. That means making sacrifices that might not feel good in the short run but that will advance you. Whatever it takes, stay on the right path and don’t get derailed.

Big goals don’t come easy. You’ll have to go through a journey and resist temptation that will lure you to go other places. Try to follow your compass. Guide your elephant. Stay on the path. When all these three are aligned it will ultimately get you where you want to be.

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Expertise Does Not Have Units

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Gabe Weatherhead of Macdrifter. I’m an unabashed fan. Not only is Gabe an all-around nice guy, he’s wicked smart and is very generous with his time (read: he puts up with far too many of my annoying emails). Gabe is a creator, a maker of things. He has an annoying habit of turning his ideas into a reality. He leads by example, and it’s an example I strive (yet struggle) to follow.

We measure length in feet[1], weight in pounds, time in seconds and expertise in failure. The problem with becoming an expert is that often there’s no beginning and no end. Worse, there’s no measure we can use to perceive our progress. This is my attempt at a retrospective measurement of my journey.

What does a ten-year-old know about success? Well, if you were an uncoordinated oaf that had been repeatedly placed in special education programs by lazy teachers, you believed success was synonymous with respect. You believed that there was a magical point in your awkward progression where the world would take you seriously and believe in you. You knew nothing about success.

I began studying chemistry in the 5th grade. I read science books that I brought home from the library and idolized the scientist mythos in popular culture. I wanted to be an old gray man with wild hair that alternated between a tweed blazer and a lab coat. So I started a methodical progression toward becoming a “scientist”.

Over the years, chemistry became an escape for me. It was a topic that supplied an endless stream of ideas and small joys. I could play with thought experiments in my head as easily as normal people carry a tune. While I loved chemistry I never felt like a chemist. To me a chemist was still that gray old man in a lab coat shouting “Eureka!” and scribbling on a blackboard. So I continued on.

I proceeded through college throwing myself into the lab and plowing headfirst into graduate level coursework. I was no genius. I often floundered and struggled to keep my head above water. But I was single minded. I needed to become an organic chemist.[2] I completed every graduate level organic chemistry course with top grades by the end of my senior year (but nearly missed graduation by not completing humanities coursework). I didn’t attend a single party and spent every holiday in the lab, but that was OK because I was almost a chemist.

By my measure, I was half-way to my goal. I was 20 years old and knew more organic chemistry than I had ever imagined. I knew enough to get a job doing chemistry for a paycheck. My days were work and my nights were books. I focused on the small bits that are often left as floor shavings when a boy is turned into a college graduate. Half of every pay check was reinvested into chemistry textbooks and half of every day was reinvested into becoming an expert. Four years of work and study saw me off to graduate school and I was almost a chemist.

Now at this point, most reasonable humans would consider that I had reached some significant plateau. However, organic chemistry is a deep and subtle science, chock full of history and anachronistic legacy. We speak in combinations of English, German, French and Polish. We name things after old dead men who ceased being mortal and became gods. We prize minutia and celebrate knowledge of the obscure. At 25, I was ignorant and absurd and still not quite a chemist.

Graduate school was a playground full of the hardest problems I had ever faced. I was consumed by becoming an expert and the world around me disintegrated. I emerged six years later with another degree, far less hair, and a keen mastery of organic chemistry. I overshot my goal.

Sometimes, the problem with achieving a goal set for you by a ten-year-old is that you have no idea what to do at the finish line. The world changed and I missed it. I was an expert and I was tired and bored. For me, the sweet spot of expertise hovered around the 70% mark. Being an expert is boring. While there’s always more to learn and new problems to solve, nothing is so thrilling as problems that make me fail. The moments when I struggled the most were the moments when I was scientist. I was at my best when comprehension was just out of reach.

Expertise is a funny thing. There’s no way to measure our progress towards obtaining it, yet we always feel far from our goal. When I did finally feel like an expert it hardly felt valuable enough to hold on to. I only learned afterward that expertise is not a destination but a vehicle. It’s the golden ring that makes us jump higher and reach further. In the end, it’s just a ring.

I can’t blame that little boy though. How could he know that he was already a scientist?

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  1. Sorry world. I’m an American. We use logical measurement standards like the appendage of a long dead ordinary human from the Roman empire.  ↩

  2. Organic chemistry is the study of carbon-based chemistry, not an aisle in Whole Foods.  ↩

Doing More Of What You’re Meant To Do

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done.

Today’s contribution comes from Myke Hurley of the 70Decibels podcasting network. Hurley is a friend and a hero. I admire the hell out of the work and the man. Now right about now you’re probably wondering, “um… where’s the post?” Fair question. You see, initially when I asked Myke to contribute to the series, he said no. My first instinct was that he was being a jerk (I kid because I love), but once he explained his reasoning for turning me down, we had to go about things a little differently.

You see, Myke’s big thing is making great audio content and, well, writing a post for me is not going to help him get any better at doing that. Myke has this crazy idea that the best way for him to improve at creating great audio content is to, well, attempt to create great audio content. So that’s exactly what we attempted to do. To hear Myke’s thoughts on the subject of actually getting big things done by doing more of the thing you’re looking to do, you’re going to have to take a chance on one of my “things,” the Mike Techniques newsletter and the complementary podcast. The good news is that it’s free and you can subscribe to get ahold of the podcast information here.

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Having Big Things Happen

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Nick Wynja of Hack/Make. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Nick over the past few months, first online and more recently in the bars of NYC. Put simply, Nick annoys the piss out of me. At 23 he has an understanding of himself and has his act together in a way I hope to achieve by the time I’m 43. I’ve never been one for predictions, but I’m confident that Nick will make some seriously big things happen over the span of his life. I’m just glad I get to watch and talk to him about what he’s up to every now and again…

The first thing to grasp if you want to get big things done is this: You don’t do big things—you do and big things happen.

The process starts with starting. Fire before you aim or are even ready.

It’s natural for us geeks to read the Wikipedia entry, install the software and tools, and fantasize for too long before we actually start creating. We practice it in our heads while following blogs about it until we feel ready. By the time you feel ready, it’s often too late; someone else filled that open job opportunity or jumped on the same idea you had and took the domain.

Fire

Start now. You won’t be great right away and your thing won’t be a big thing yet but you’re on your way. Get some momentum going so you can learn where to improve and then adjust your course rather than waiting until you think you’ve got your course figured out.

For a while, I hesitated writing because I didn’t think I was very good. I excused myself because I didn’t have good ideas anyway. People who get in front of the keyboard often enough will tell you that they aren’t good either. But they start typing and stuff comes out. Without first putting pen to paper—or I guess bits to txt—you won’t be able to edit, to fix, and to publish.

Aim

Once you’ve pulled the trigger, aim towards your values and virtues not your goals. Use your values as a guide to make your decisions intentional. Goals will shift and outcomes will be different than what you expect so let strong values direct you. 

What are your values? Live fast, die young? Family first? Sacrifice nothing for quality? There’s no single right answer. It is up to you to figure that out but once you get an idea about what matters to you, it’s much easier to adjust your course since you have a better understanding of the characteristics of what you want to accomplish.

These are a few things I want to accomplish in what I do now and in the arc of my life as a whole: to design and make beautiful things, to build technology for communication, and to use writing as a catalyst for myself and others to do in the hopes that eventually that thing will become a big thing. Those concepts are broad but having them defined brings clarity on what I should be doing short-term and helps me focus on each next step to satisfying what I want to do long-term.

The truth is I usually don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going—I make it up as I go. I got a lot better at what I do when I accepted that. When you get to that point, you make things a lot easier on yourself by surrendering some of your weaknesses and your own conceptions and allow yourself to rely more on systems, processes, and people. You’re a lot more willing to seek support, find tools that can help, and ask questions. It helps to know what you don’t know so get good at googling if you don’t have someone to ask. As long as you’re curious, you’ll find answers that will help you towards your long-term vision and to the next step in the process.

Ready

The next step in a project is an action. The next step in this process is being ready. It’s not ready like waiting, all set to go, it’s continuously becoming better so that when things have gained momentum and have become big things, you can be in that moment without hesitation.

By firing so you can begin to learn and use the knowledge gained to inform better decisions and aiming by aligning your course of actions with your values, you’ll become better by becoming ready and then be able act with the strength of your conviction and direction.

Start before it’s too late, let your values direct your vision, and be ready for opportunities that will come up. If you do, you’ll find a lot more big things happening with your name on them.

Note: This may be a little bit meta, but I really enjoyed Nick’s piece that talks about the process of writing this piece. You should read it as well…

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Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Take A MakeCation

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Bryan Clark, one of the creators of Threadnote, a note-taking app for the iPhone. I first got to know Bryan when he reached out to ask if I’d try the app out. I was instantly impressed by the personal touches in the pitch as well as the app itself. After getting to know him better, I’m persistently impressed by what he’s working on and what he has already created.

This past March, I was stuck.

For the better part of a year, I’d been working on my first iPhone app, Threadnote. It was nearly done – my buddy Ryan and I had gone through weeks of beta testing and a few minor redesigns, and we thought we were very, very close to being finished. However: as anyone who’s shipped a product will tell you, the last 5% of a project will take far, far longer to complete than the first 5%.

The last steps of turning our project into a product felt pretty grueling: fix the big bugs, stop writing code and start preparing your marketing materials, nudge pixels, and go through the hoops of getting your app in the App Store. This is work that requires a lot of uninterrupted time, and that’s not always easy to find.

When you’re stuck on a project, there’s only one way out: push through it. I was finishing up a year-long project at work, so I put in for two weeks of time off. Normally I’d relax, but this wasn’t a vacation: I wanted to finish the tough bits and ship the app. As cheesy as the name is, I called it my “MakeCation”.

I woke up at the usual time, headed to a cafe, and worked on our app as if it were a full-time job. I only needed three things: Wi-Fi, Xcode, and OmniFocus. Those ten days led to an app that was nearly done, and a few weeks later, Ryan and I launched our app.

We’re often told to “just ship it”; there’s a notion that quality can be built in later. With an app, though, you only get one launch day.

For us, the MakeCation was a way to refine the product without delaying our launch. It’s not that we launched the app earlier; it’s that we launched the app better.

The extra time led to some great things. The focused time allowed me to fill holes in the app that I hadn’t seen before, and add in big features like geo-tagging notes, clustering pins on the map, refining animations, adding search to every list, and the ability to share notes to other apps. Threadnote became a far better app as a result.

If you’ve got a project that you want to get out there, and you’re fortunate enough to have a job that allows it, take a bit of time off and get your project out there. Michael’s doing exactly that with his project, and I can’t wait to see what comes out of it.

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Actually Making Money

Actually Getting Big Things Done is a series of guests posts on how to make things happen from those who know how to… well… actually get big things done. Today’s post comes from Andrew Carroll. Andrew, who is also known as CPA Andrew, has this terrible habit of being one of the most sensible people I know who talks about the seemingly impossible topic of business (which as you will see in a moment, he swears is simple). I learn a ton every time he starts talking and thankfully (as you’ll also see), the man likes to talk…

Business is Simple.

It is also brutal. I get to see lots of great businesses and help them with their problems. I also have the unfortunate job of sometimes having to tell people that their dream either won’t fly, or is dead. In fact, you would be surprised how many people are working for themselves, thinking they are living the dream and fooling themselves. The reality is, they are going to get to retirement and have no chance. So many self-employed people are running businesses that are not profitable enough to be worth their time. A business has to generate not just enough profit for you to live on, but also for you to save so that when you want to quit, you have a nest egg to generate income from. Also, don’t overestimate what your business is worth, if you think you are going to try and sell it and retire on that.

What makes the difference between a successful business and someone who is stuck in a pipe dream? 

How does someone actually make a business work?

Well, it’s simple. 

No, really, it is! But let’s start with what does not make a business a successful. People like to think that business is complex and they are different or their idea is unique. The reality is, it isn’t. Very few brand new ideas and products are in the market right now. And believe me when I say that your business “model” isn’t unique either. People have this vision of businesses as these magical entities that make money out of thin air. Or that some complex structure of entities and financing can make then rich, or can solve their problem. Going public won’t make you rich. It never has, it never will. Building a business that can create value will make you rich. Don’t confuse these two. Going public is just one way to cash in on the value you already built. But if your company sucks, taking it public won’t make it suck any less and it won’t make you rich. 

Businesses that add value make money.

How much value you add is directly proportional to how much profit you make. After you have built a business that makes money, you can look at exit options. One of which is going public. Another is just saving the excess cash flow from the business. It really doesn’t matter what exit strategy you choose. If you have a valuable business, you are already rich. How you choose to convert that wealth to cash is a personal preference. I talk a lot about how to exit businesses at the end of “So You Want To Run Your Own Business” series. If you want more info on how to evaluate your exit options, check out that post. But this post is about what it takes to actually have a successful business.

Add value, make money. Repeat as necessary.

What constitutes adding value though? That can be simple as well. Let’s start with an example. I am a pencil maker. I buy some wood, some lead (or whatever the writing part of the pencil is made from these days), and some rubber for an eraser. I paid 25 cents for those raw materials. I put them all together into pencil form. I sell the pencil for 50 cents. Why would someone pay 50 cents for wood, rubber and lead when they can buy the same raw materials for 25 cents? Because I added value to the materials by making them a pencil. By putting it into a form that can be used as writing utensil, I made those materials more valuable than they were before. And what happens when we add value? That’s right, we make money.

This basic formula is true for every single business on Earth. Most people intuitively understand that basic example. But they get lost when you start extrapolating it up to other businesses, especially branded and service businesses. So, more examples! I am a CPA. People pay me to fill out their tax form. Why would they pay me to put numbers on a form when they could just as easily put numbers on a page? Because when I do it, the form is worth more, because I know how to put those numbers on the page in very special ways. So my filled out form is more valuable than their filled out form. I added value, so I make money.

This isn’t only a matter of money saved; perceived value can also be just as valuable as hard dollar value. Think about online businesses. Maybe you sell an eBook. I would be willing to bet that most of the eBooks out there don’t have “new” information in them. The messages are all very similar.  Sure, you could look up all the information in my eBook for free. But that would take time. By combining the information in a unique, easy to understand, and easy to use manner I can save you time and make that information easier to use, thereby making it more valuable. And since most people perceive value in their time, that can be a very profitable business model!

Make sense? Take raw materials, add value to them, make money. Raw materials can be anything from pencil lead to information. It’s that simple folks.

How to apply this all to your own business

I help clients to understand if and how their business is going to make money by doing the VGP process. VGP = Vision, Goals, Projects.

Start with your Vision. What makes your business special? What are you in business to do? Most important: How does your business add value?

If you are struggling at this point, your dream probably won’t fly. I don’t care what Tony Robbins says, you cannot have anything you want. Visualizing it will not make it happen. If you have a way to add value, you can make money. If you don’t, you can’t make money.

There is an interim step here that I sometimes add depending on how new you are. If you add value by selling widgets, how much value can you add? This means, how much profit can you make per widget? Compare that to your budget (you made one of those right? Of course you did). That should be your first goal: “Sell enough widgets to produce enough profit to cover my living expenses”. When I say to make goals, I pretty much assume that you have already figured out if your business is viable. But, if you are just starting out, this is a good first goal. For those that have been in a business for some time, and doing this annually, your goals should be more ambitious than “make enough to live”.

After we define, or refine, our vision, we make goals. Goals basically fall into four categories:

  1. Improve my business so I can sell MORE widgets (increase volume).
  2. Make an improvement that makes my widgets more valuable (increase profit per widget).
  3. Improve the efficiency of my business (keep more profit from each widget).
  4. Expand the business to include complementary offerings or new offerings (create new widget lines, increasing the value of the enterprise as a whole).

I usually don’t like to get more specific than that, because goals should be unique to each and every business. There are a million combinations of these and ways to look at them. But at its core, goal setting is all about actively thinking about how to improve your business along one of those four lines. 

Projects are where the rubber meets the road. If your goal is “make my widget have TWO cameras instead of one” then the project needs to be all the tasks and activities that it will take to get that feature added. There are so many places that talk about project planning on the Internet, I’m not going to waste your time beating that dead horse.

So, how do you actually get things done? Simple:

  • Figure out how you can add value to someone or something.
  • Decide if you can add enough value to support yourself and your goals.
  • Make some goals to keep growing and improving the value you add.
  • Figure out how to accomplish those goals.

Then add value, make money, rinse and repeat!

Business is Simple, Folks.

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