My latest series – Brand Plan 2015 – is wrapping up this week, and that means it’s time for the hard part:
Following Through With all the Awesome Plans!!!
Weeeeeeee! FUN! Right?
Nope. Not fun, kitten. This is not a fun time.
I’m an idea generating machine over here. You know this; I lament it often.
I come up with so many ideas that are excessively exciting to me, but I don’t always continue with each idea through to its completion. Lots of my greatest jump-out-of-the-shower-while-my-hair’s-still-full-of-shampoo-to-write-down-the-genuis-of-it-all ideas get lost somewhere after they are jotted down, then outlined and planned out meticulously, and explained in detail to my cat.
They get lost in the follow-through.
And that sucks. Watching an exciting idea die without reaching its potential? It sucks bad, kitten.
It’s even suckier when the idea that dies isn’t just a single idea. We spend all of December and most of January planning out our next year’s goals and projects – and coming up with really awesome ideas and strategies to help us kill it in the next handful of quarters – and setting up beautiful systems and calendars to help us remember everything….
But then – like all of those tricky New Years’ Resolutions we bandied about last week – our plans start to crumble as the year ticks by. We let them go and forget about how important and exciting they were while the suds were still getting in our eyes.
Why does that always happen?
In a word? Life.
Life happens, and it makes follow-through difficult. We come up with ideas and make our plans while daydreaming in the shower, or on the long drive home from Christmas Dinner, or while we fill in worksheets from our favourite Biz Blogs.
And those times are great for planning and ideation, but they are worlds in a vacuum. Nothing else happens in daydream world – no family emergencies, no christmas-food-comas, no computer crashes, and no mega flu bugs.
Attacking any project is just like the Writing Process: there is a time for creativity and excitement, a time for organization and list making…and a time for getting it done.
That is the part that we often avoid or try to skip to, through or around – and that is why we almost always fail at reaching our goals.
Right. So how do we avoid the premature death of our grand plans?
I have learned this lesson over and over, and every time I forget it life throws another example at me to reteach it, so I’m willing to bet that it’s pretty important, and you guys need to hear about it.
So you may have noticed that I’ve been relatively silent for the past 2 weeks. It wasn’t a planned hiatus, but rather a forced hermitage due to a nasty cold and flu bug that you can *only* get from a generous kid at Christmas-time.
And I had PLANS for last week too! I had stuff to finish up for clients, an exciting new project to get ready for, a new freebie to design and automate for you guys, and I had a whole set of consulting services to outline and launch…
Nice plans, right?
Yup. In theory. Instead, I curled up under the blankets, ingested pot after pot of “immunity boosting green tea” (didn’t work by the way, and I had to pee every 30 minutes for my trouble), and living off of Tylenol Cold and Flu tablets and Netflix.
I didn’t even write blog posts or my newsletter for the past two weeks! I had great stuff for you too…but I was just a mess, and when I wasn’t sick, the girls were. So nothing got done on my ToDo list.
Boo! This is majorly disappointing, right? I felt totally guilty too – and demoralized and like a massive failure, so I dug in and hid under those blankets, berating myself for my suckiness…because self flagellation always helps productivity, right? Wrong.
What got me going again?
This!! This is the lesson, kitten. Hold tight; it’s a good one.
At some point during my sickie-pants temper tantrum, I got this sweet, sweet text out of nowhere from one of my fave online BizKittens, Richelle Shadoan of Red Scorpio Handmade, asking me if I was ok because she hadn’t seen me in a while.
I felt a little better immediately, because she wasn’t mad at me for not writing posts or contributing where I normally do (obviously, but we get all self-loathing-y when we don’t meet our goals, right? So we assume everyone is secretly judging us). She was just concerned because she knew I had plans to be active, and she missed me.
Then, I got up and – sluggishly still – toddled back over to my computer and checked in with my email. I heard from a handful of clients there, saying basically the same thing as Richelle: “Hey there buddy! I miss you. How are things going? Are you ok?”
I love my people.
So this is where the big lesson comes pouring out:
And it is so obvious, but I forget it every single time and curl up alone like a sad little procrastination-hermit. And that helps precisely NOBODY. Ever.
Particularly for those of us in business on our own, we get stuck in our own heads and can let things slide or stay down a bit too long when we get tripped by a serious case of the plan-hiccups.
We need other people to nudge us sometimes; we need to be accountable and responsible to more than just ourselves; we need support when things don’t go according to plan, and we sometimes need a little kick in the pants to get off the sick-couch and stop beating ourselves up as an excuse to procrastinate the hard work ahead.
We need accountability to be built in to our plans and ideas – just as much as all of the ToDo lists, Outcome worksheets and task lists.
Don’t try to be an island, kitten. Find yourself an accountability partner you trust – someone who will hold you accountable and support you with love and respect…but won’t let you make excuses all the time (it’s a fine balance, I know).
And when you find her, don’t let go! Because that system – that totally human, completely un-techie, supremely not programmed, anti-app system – will save your keester when you fall down hard, or just have a bit of a slip, on those amazing plans you’ve been cooking up.
Here’s the final, golden piece of “Accountability Advice” for today, and I’ll make it a tweetable too:
Because if you tell everyone about your plans before you finish them, you’ll lose motivation to follow through.
If you hold on to the nuggets instead, until you’ve got something to show for it, you’re FAR more likely to follow through so you have good something for those “What are you up to?” conversations.
You know I’m right. Don’t even pretend I’m not right.
I’m going to leave you there for today, but come back next week to see how I want to help you make your Brand Plan happen this year (I’ve added in a whole longterm accountability aspect to my consulting services).
Yup – I’ll be launching my new consulting services late, but late is way better than never, so I’m cool with it.
Also, I can breathe today and haven’t had any delirium enduring medication today, so things are looking UP for 2015!
Oh! Tell me in the comments about your accountability hacks and/or times you’ve needed a kick in the pants to get back up and go. I love hearing from you!