The Itch to Create - Part 2: Making Your Idea Inevitable

You’ve decided that your new idea is worth a shot. You will be doing something about that itch to create.

By putting in the effort to identify your ‘why’ (in Part 1), you were able to dissassociate yourself from your feeling of excitement, and you saw more clearly why you’d even consider going for your idea.

In short: you’ve realized that you’re not in it to put a product on the market just yet. You’ve also realized that there might be a way to not make it compete against your day-to-day too much, and the key is to think that developing this idea will be a good context for sharpening a skill.

But you’re still left with a history of rarely finishing what you started. Maybe it was about procrastination, maybe it was about lack of clarity, maybe it was about miscalculating the amount of effort required to finish it.

Still, you’re weary. Will you finish your idea, this time around?

To make sure you finish it, to make your project inevitable, we’ll start by picturing what “finishing it” looks like.

Visualizing the End - An Intro to Have-Done Lists

There is a technique I use that I call Have-Done Lists. It replaces to-do lists and it removes the need for estimates or priority levels (low-med-high). It even removes the need for a to-do system (like Getting Things Done, which I ditched in favour of this method), because this technique doesn’t hold onto old lists. Have-Done Lists favour starting with now, and to look to the future. It assumes we’re throwing away the past, and sets the focus on a point somewhere in the future, a point describing the end.

The end of the day…

  

Before the end of the day, I’ll have:

The end of the month…

  

Before the end of the month, I’ll have:

And, of course, the end of your project

  

Before the end of the project, I’ll have:

Re-writing Statements Until They Will Be True

Beneath that heading describing the end, let’s write statements, and let’s re-write them until they ring true.

Each statement starts with a past participle (Obtained, Finished, Started, Advanced on…).

  

Before the end of the project, I’ll have: Published it in the wild Made it work with all the edge cases Made the implementation high quality Obtained some attention Obtained some sign-ups

Last time, we identified that the key to this project’s success was that it’ll allow you to sharpen a skill. That’s missing from that list…

  

Before the end of the project, I’ll have: Published it in the wild Made it work with all the edge cases Made the implementation high quality Obtained some attention Obtained some sign-ups Sharpened a skill

Re-ordering Statements until the First Statement Will Be the Most True

An important part of re-writing these statements is to change their order, until the top statement will be the most true by the end of the project, and all other statements will be ordered by descending true-ness (by the end of the project).

You can even indent them, which states that one thing will help making the other thing become true.

  

Before the end of the project, I’ll have: Sharpened a skill Obtained some attention Published it in the wild Made the implementation high quality Made it work with all the edge cases Obtained some sign-ups

At the top of the list, we have the statement that will be the most true by the end of the project. And the ones below that, well they’re wishful thinking (the point is that you can be honest about it).

This allows us to be really clear about our intentions. And it allows us to ask some deeper questions…

How sharp does our skill need to be anyway? Can I be specific somehow?

By the time we’ll be able to say we’ll have sharpened that skill, what will we be able to say we’ll have done?

  

Before I can say I'll have sharpened my skill, I’ll have: Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill

“Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill”: this is really interesting. Who is this person? Someone who might help you get some work in the future? A way to have “Obtained some attention” maybe?

And why do you want to sharpen that skill exactly? So you can say you’ll have “Advanced on ensuring more prosperity”.

Let’s tie that all back to the larger context: the end of the project.

  

Before the end of the project, I’ll have: Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Shared my progress with this person Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild Made the implementation high quality Made it work with all the edge cases Obtained some sign-ups

So now you’re clear that you’re doing this to get more prosperity, and you’ll do it two ways. By sharpening that skill, and as a way to get attention for that skill. So long as those two are in order, you’ll be honest with yourself.

To be even more honest with yourself, let’s bring it back in a real context, within a real time-box.

Installing Those Statements Within a Real Time-box

A real time-box might be the end of the month…

  

Before the end of the month, I’ll have:

Or it might be something even more real, that’s occupying your thoughts, and that gives a hard deadline, like a conference you plan to go to:

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have:

This, right here, is the last part to make your project inevitable. It has to be installed amongst everything else you got going. First, you’ll have to make sure you’ll have taken care of your family.

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Shared my progress with this person Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild

And you might have made other commitments, which includes taking care of your family:

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Shared my progress with this person Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild

But! This skill you plan to sharpen, you might even make it a public commitment, either to that person you know, or publicly on social media. To make sure you can keep it, you can write a statement which will be true.

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Met my commitments Taken care of my family Ensured some revenue Taken care of my health and well-being Met my other commitments … Posted, at least every two weeks, about my progress learning this skill Advanced on ensuring more prosperity Sharpened a skill Understood the subtleties Understood the different angles Tried recreating this idea three different ways Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Obtained some attention Obtained feedback from someone I know that has the skill Shared my progress with this person Obtained some attention from people outside my circles Published updates about it in the wild


At this point, you’ve obtained something that became:

  • Central, rather than a distraction, because you know its utility compared to everything else, and sits close to the top of your list.
  • Installed, rather than being a wish, because you’ve found the smallest viable thing to do to satisfy what a success at the end will look like and a real physical deadline that forces you to make choices and trade-offs.

Those two traits, “central” and “installed” are what makes a project inevitable. And you get that by picturing the end, and re-writing statements until they sound true.

Things will come up between now and then, and at each point, you’ll be able to re-write those statements, or use them to manage those commitments you make to other people.

Which, really, should now become your first statement on the list:

  

Before that conference that’s coming up in a few months, I’ll have: Ensured I only take commitments I can keep Met my commitments …

Stay sharp!


P.S. Now that we’ve introduced Mental Models (Part 1) and Have-Done Lists (Part 2, above), we’re set for the act of tweaking our thoughts so we can calibrate them against outside advice. In Part 3, that’s what we’ll do: we’ll be incorporating other people’s sharp advice.



@pascallaliberte

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