Making Progress

There’s a pattern I see in myself and in a lot of my clients.

We want something. That something is big, and involves change and usually a hell of a lot of work to make it happen.

We have limited time and energy. And pre-existing commitments that are either unchangeable (like caring for young children) or not immediately changeable (like needing to pay bills with a day job).

Add it all up and it starts to feel like the Thing you want is so big that it can never happen.

I get it. Believe me, I get it.

But here is the key to getting from where you are now to where you want to be:

Microsteps + Commitment = Progress

Lemme ‘splain.

First, the Microsteps

Every big thing that you want is made of steps. The big steps can always be broken down into smaller steps.

And the smaller steps can be broken down into microsteps.

Remember in my video, how I said that the thing we want sometimes feels like a wall? Well, when we’re staring at a wall it’s easy to miss the fact that the wall was built from bricks or stones or sticks.

We have to choose to stop and find the microsteps. Even when a part of us is freaking out, or feeling resentful that it’s so damned hard.

Most important of all is Commitment

How many times have you known what you wanted to do, and maybe you even knew exactly what the next steps were, but life got in the way?

Next thing you know, two or three months have gone by and you haven’t done any work on [insert that thing you want here].

I doubt I’m alone in trying to take an all-or-nothing approach. I’m constantly catching myself looking for unrealistically large blocks of time so I can work on something from start to finish.

Maybe it comes down to the desire for instant gratification, but somehow, spending only a small amount of time feels pointless. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s painful. Like we’re just teasing ourselves by drawing out the process to an excruciating time-frame.

And yet.

What if the only way to get what you want is to work at it a little bit at a time?

If that were the only way, would you scrap it completely?

What if working at it a little bit at a time would create a snowball effect, but you can’t see that from where you are right now?

What if the simple act of truly committing would allow the Universe to conspire on your behalf?

Would that be enough for you to commit to experimenting with commitment?

How to make progress, in 4 (easy?) steps

1. Figure out a reasonable amount of time per week you can commit to working on your Thing. (Hint: if you don’t know what your Thing is, then you can commit to Thing-Finding.)

2. Schedule the time on your calendar. Treat it like an appointment with a hard-to-see specialist (i.e., don’t reschedule unless it’s an emergency).

3. When it’s time for your appointment, work on your Thing. Do a microstep (or several).

4. Keep making (and keeping) those appointments.

How to make this technique work

Start with a small time commitment, because in the beginning, fulfilling the commitment is more important than making progress.

A good place to start is one hour per week, putting it on your calendar for at least three weeks in a row. But if that’s too much, commit to an amount of time that works for you.

If, when the time comes, you’re not “in the mood” to work on your Thing, do not give yourself a pass. You must use the time for something related to your Thing. Writing about why you don’t feel like working on it is a completely legitimate (and productive) use of that time.

Treat this as an experiment. Pay attention to how it feels to make the commitment, fulfill the commitment, and take microsteps. Notice how it feels to have a regular date with the thing you want to do.

I’m betting that as you make even little bits of progress, it’ll be easier to keep the appointments. Soon you’ll probably be willing to increase your weekly commitment.

Care to join me?

Just to prove that I can walk my talk, I’m doing this, too.

I’m committing to one hour per week, for the next three weeks, to work through the Right-Brain Business Plan. Thursdays at 5pm Pacific, to be precise.

(I can’t begin to express how much Stuff this is bringing up for me, but that’s a post for another day.)

I know it’s not enough to finish, but I need to start somewhere. I need to feel what it feels like to make progress on this thing.

Are you up for the challenge? In the comments let me know:

– How much time will you commit to?
– What will you work on?
– What would help make the Microsteps and/or the Commitment easier?

Let’s do this thing!

14 thoughts on “Making Progress

  1. Square-Peg Karen

    Oh, WHY is it so hard to remember that the whole journey is made from steps??? One-at-a-freakin’-time steps! I’ve had such success with micro-steps, but I keep forgetting that (KEEP forgetting) and wanting to ¿bounce? to a project’s end – and being disappointed if it doesn’t happen that way (the big bounce). Over. And. Over. Duh!

    I’m with you – I can schedule in ONE hour a week – mine will be Thursday morning – 7 – 8 AM, to work on the new Welcome page I’ve been planning since forevah!

    Thanks, Victoria

  2. Danielle

    OMG I love this so much. It’s something that I *know* but need to be reminded of all the time. And one of those days was today … so thank you!!

    :)

  3. Lori-Ann

    Thank you. I am now going to think about scheduling some time in which to schedule some time for my thing. (It feels hard! I know that that’s just for today, though.)
    What a most excellent reminder to do just this.

  4. Tori Deaux

    “Microsteps + Commitment = Progress”

    I think I need that tattooed somewhere. Or maybe just engraved on a bracelet. I dunno.

    I especially love that you’re doing this with the RBBP, which I am (non-objectively!) partial to. And mine isn’t finished. And never will be. But I’m still committed to it, and there’s continuing progress. Yay!

  5. Victoria Post author

    @Karen – I’m totally with you on forgetting that there’s steps. And yay for scheduling your hour! Hope you’ll come back and let me know how it went!

    @Danielle – So glad this post came at the right time for you. :)

    @Lori-Ann – Scheduling time to schedule some time is a great microstep. And you’re right, sometimes (or often, even) it really does feel hard.

    @Tori – Want to hear a funny story? Last night I was reading RBBP in bed, and I saw someone’s plan about their Right People, and I noticed how awesome the page looked, and how the descriptions were very similar to how I’d describe my people. And then I saw the word “quirkipreneur” and I thought, “Could it be?” And then I read the caption, and sure enough, it was *your* page! How cool is that?

  6. Tori Deaux

    Victoria, that is VERY cool, and fun! I can definitely see us having some of the same Right People :) Can’t wait to see what happens with your RBBP. Keep me updated please!

  7. Christine Martell

    Me too! My office wall is looking more like my studio now that I am starting to cover it with my right brained business plan. Amazing how much clarity emerges when working aligned with strengths.

  8. Elizabeth

    Yes! I had this epiphany the other day, after attempting to Rally at home. I realized that I can get a lot done in an hour. But I generally don’t work on things because I think I need this huge block of time in order to work on something, like an entire day when I don’t have to leave the house or do anything in the house (ha). Or I look at my list of ideas and think that they’re all things for the future but really it’s just that lots of them have a million little things and if I just did one little thing, and then another little thing, I’d actually make progress. I haven’t progressed past the epiphany into action, but I feel hopeful. I think I will try your appointment idea now.

  9. Cindy Morefield

    Oh, this is great timing, Victoria. I’m in! And I’m working on my RBBP, too. Thursdays at 11a Eastern. I’ve already made some progress on the RBBP, but it keeps getting pushed aside by another project I’m working on this month. But this morning had a conversation with my biz and learned that working on the RBBP will actually help the other project along. So. Thanks for this opportunity! Three hours are now on the calendar, starting today. :)

  10. Bec

    Oh I was thinking about just this thing in the shower this morning.

    Specifically, “…fulfilling the commitment is more important than making progress …I’m betting that as you make even little bits of progress, it’ll be easier to keep the appointments.”

    I was thinking about how I have ‘shown up’ for myself and done something important (by my definition) every day this week, and it has built a sense of self-satisfaction and capability that helps me feel more positive about myself and the future.

    Also, I’m looking forward to time off on the weekend, without that guilty ‘I should be catching up’ feeling.

  11. Victoria Post author

    @Christine – “Amazing how much clarity emerges when working aligned with strengths.” Yes! That certainly what I’m hoping for! :)

    @Elizabeth – Yesyesyes! I hadn’t put it together, but you just helped me understand why I’ve never Rally-ed at home, either. It’s like we (i.e., lots of people) have all these unspoken/unwritten rules about what’s necessary to dig into a project.

    @Cindy – Awesome! How’d your RBBP appointment go? I did mine last night and it was…challenging. :)

    @Bec – You definitely hit on something crucial to all of this – the bit about *you* being the one to define what’s important. I’ve been thinking also about how helpful it is to define it in ways that make it really hard to fail. And don’t you love not feeling like you need to catch up on stuff?

  12. Cindy Morefield

    @Victoria – RBBP appointment went well, in that I did it! :) I’m working on the Big Vision collage, which is taking longer than I expected, but it is progressing. I’d already culled images from magazines, so Thursday I just messed with them to see what kind of groupings/patterns showed up. Nothing has been pasted down yet, but I did realize that I actually want 3 collages – one for biz overall (“Livelihood” I call it), and then a smaller one for both the studio and coaching components.
    Yay you for keeping your appointment, even tho it was challenging. What was the challenge, and how did you deal with it?

  13. Elizabeth

    I know! I actually thought my at-home Rally wasn’t successful because I always got started later, had less time to work before lunch than anticipated, and did not manage to do an afternoon work session any day except Tuesday. But I learned so much about what I think I need and what I actually need and had some very fruitful epiphanies that it turns out it was seriously successful. So glad I tried it.

  14. Abdul

    Hey Victoria,
    This right brain business plan sound great and it’s nice to know you’re making progress with it. I’ll look into it some time soon. I’ve also read through your more recent posts. Best of luck. :)

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