Let’s see if you can relate to this problem.
You have a great idea. It seems to come from somewhere deep down in your gut.
Maybe it’s an idea for a book to write. A hobby to pursue. A class to take. Art to create.
Whatever it is, it lights you up and you are gung-ho to complete it with style.
So you pour all your energy into it. You buy supplies. You research. You study. You listen to podcasts on the subject. You check out books to see what other experts are doing. You immerse yourself in every minute detail until you are a walking, talking encyclopedia bursting with knowledge.
Then you get started.
You do one of the first things on your list. Maybe it’s publishing your first book. Maybe it’s putting your first piece of art out into the world. Whatever it is, you feel a sense of purpose and freedom because you did it.
What was once just the smallest glimmer of an idea is now a tangible, living thing set free in the world.
And for a moment you feel great.
Then the doubts set it and the second guessing starts.
- What if I had done it this way…
- Perhaps I should ask [insert name here] what they would do…
- Maybe next time I should try this…
- My thing doesn’t look like someone else’s thing…
- That’s not how [insert experts name here] would have done it..
The what if’s and the maybes can be maddening sometimes.
Friends, I Want to Invite You to Learn the Ancient Art of “Under-thinking”
Ok, it’s not really ancient. In fact, I don’t even think “Under-thinking” is a word, but the principle is still sound.
I’ve recently embarked on this journey to conquer the self-publishing world and become a force to be reckoned with in my space. (Google “Steve Scott Amazon” or “Steve Scott Podcast” for inspiration and to see what I’m talking about.)
I realized that most of my posts are in the 1800 word range. If I have a basic outline of what I want to say, I can crank out a post like this one about an hour or so.
So my thinking was that I could create 10 or 12 chapters similar to posts like this and bundle them into a short ebook and publish to Amazon. That’s what I did with this book, which I just published.
But before I could get started, I needed the spark of an idea.
What I eventually came up with was “How to Be Good at Life.”
My proposition is that nobody wants their lives to suck.
As Henry David Thoreau wrote,
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”
I don’t want to be one of those men. I want my life to matter. I want to be a great husband, a great dad, a compelling disciple of Christ, a leader in my home, family, community, a man who people respect and a person who makes the world a better place.
When I’m gone, I want people to realize what a positive difference I made in their lives.
So I decided to begin writing Easy to Read and Simple to Execute Guides for Doing Life Well.
Start With Your Gut-Feeling and Intuition
Armed with this understanding, I asked myself these three questions:
1: Who am I uniquely positioned to help?
I’ve written for women, but I’m not a woman.
I’ve written for Millennials and Baby Boomers, but I’m solidly Generation X.
So the people I can most help are people like me: middle aged men, college educated, working on career, married, raising families, and trying to matter.
2: What is their most pressing need or pain point?
Since I am this person I can pretty clearly speak to their needs. They need to know:
- How to do good work without letting it consume their lives
- How to communicate, romance, and woo their wives when life is distracting
- How to be patient and understanding of their kids, when the world is pushing in on every side
- How to deepen their faith and live it out even when life makes them cynical
- How to continually improve as men when it’s easy to slide and rest on past accomplishments
- How to clarify your calling even if it’s not what you went to school for or what you’ve spent your life doing so far
- How to build friendships that sustain you through the good and bad times
- How to discover and living out the calling/message/purpose that only you can fulfill
- How to embrace who you are and what makes you unique and use it to change the world
- How to recognize that everything you do each day builds your legacy
3: How can I meet that need out of the lessons of my own life?
Finally, I asked myself how could I meet that need? What do I know how to do? What lessons have I learned in my own life? What can I share that will encourage others?
Here’s what I discovered:
- Faith — my faith is the cornerstone of my life. I can write about it and how to deepen your faith.
- Marriage & Family— next to my faith, my marriage and family are the most important things to me. I can write about how to strengthen these relationships.
- Career — I’ve had a crazy career journey. I’ve taught other people how to interview, write resumes, discover their strengths, find a job they love. I can write about that.
- Leadership/Personal Growth — I spent two years writing for John C. Maxwell and his organizations and immersed in his teaching. A handful of leadership lessons rubbed off. I could write about that.
- Message/Calling/Purpose — I believe every person on the planet has something that only they can do. I could write about how to help people discover this calling or purpose.
- Writing — As someone who makes a living writing, I can teach others how to write.
- Carpentry — I grew up swinging a hammer. I can write about how to help other people tackle projects around the house or learn carpentry.
My list will be different than yours because you and I have different experiences. Isn’t that great?
Think about the people your heart hurts for and figure out how to make their lives better. It’s easier to write, teach, or help people when your heart is involved.
Brainstorm what you know and then determine to share it with the world.
Continue With Dogged Persistence
At this point you will feel excited. You’ll feel like you have a plan and you’ll put it into action.
That’s when the A.D.D. kicks in. Don’t let it. Stay focused and carry on.
Keep on the path.
You chose this path for a reason. It’s been born of your unique experiences and life choices. Stay on that path. Don’t let other paths distract you. That’s a surefire way to get nowhere. You don’t want your life to suck, remember? Stay on the path.
Do what only you can do.
I can sing, but I’ll never be the lead singer in the band. I’m not misshapen or anything, but I’ll never be a model. I love the outdoors, but my creaking knees won’t let me climb Everest.
That’s ok. I can do what I can do. And what I can do is write and share my heart. I will continue to do that well.
Determine that enough is enough.
I have an information problem.
My StrengthsFinder Top 5 includes Intellection, Input, and Learner. That means I devour information. As a kid I would always read the cereal box as I ate. I’ve read the back of the shampoo bottle in the shower. (I’m not proud.)
At some point you have to determine that enough is enough.
I don’t need anymore information to do what I’m trying to do. I know about keywords, and captivating titles, and the power of a compelling book cover, and Amazon KDP vs. other publishers, and social media shares, and podcasts by Chandler Bolt, Jeff Goins, Michael Hyatt, Dave Chesson, and Joanna Penn.
Eventually it all becomes procrastination. At some point you have to go with what you know and launch.
Trust me, you enough to get started. So start.
Don’t Let the Shiny Lights Distract You
Along the way well meaning people will try to pull you off course. Don’t let them.
You’ll also see things along the way that can distract you:
- Should I do a podcast?
- Which type of social media is best to leverage?
- Should I partner with another author or artist?
- What’s the best email provider?
- On and on it goes
These are all important things to consider for building your brand, but they can’t draw you off course. You know what your message is. Now stay focused and keep at it.
Be Prepared to Finish Well
It’s easy to start something.
I learned that when I was doing construction. Initially you make big, visible progress. You knock down trees and pour a foundation, you tear out a wall and open up a space, you move all the furniture to the middle of the room and repaint the walls.
Starting is easy. Finishing is hard. Finishing well is the most challenging of all.
We all get tired, bored, run down, and sick of projects. The enthusiasm you start with won’t always carry you through to the end.
That’s why you need to have your eyes on something bigger than your initial motivation.
You need to focus on the big prize.
- The people you are helping.
- The life you are building.
- The legacy you are leaving.
- The lessons you are teaching.
- The message you are sharing.
- The reward you are creating.
These are the things that will carry you through and help you finish well.
Over-thinking comes naturally. Under-thinking is a challenge and a skill you have to learn to develop.
Use your gut. Trust your intuition. Go where where it takes you.
It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it when you get there.
Want to make an IMPACT and build a life that matters?
I’ve created a free cheat sheet that will help you make an impact each day, provide focus and clarity for your life, and make a difference in your world. It’s a free, fast, and effective way to Start Living the Good Life.
Originally published at medium.com