Competition: enter to win sanity

I get mulish when told what to do.

Even when the person telling me what to do… is me.

I jokingly call it, “I don’t want to and I can’t make me.” But it’s not really funny.

I’ve resisted good things because they felt like orders: things like exercise, financial discipline, and business planning. And of course I’ve suffered the consequences of that refusal: I’m unfit, my finances are wobbly, and my business is always tap-dancing, never sure what’s coming next.

I don’t wanna play this game any more.

I want to be healthy in my bod and bank account and biz. I’m ready to do things differently.

So when I was given a resource that proposed to get me trying long-term business planning without making me mutinous, I was skeptical but intrigued.

I tried it.

And you know what? I’m actually making long-term business plans for the first time in my life. I’m still finding massive pockets of resistance and stiffness about it, but I’m making for-realsies progress.

(This announcement ought to be accompanied by trumpets and angelic choirs, plus two thumbs up from The Fonz.)

I have plans for where the biz is going! And I like the plans! It’s like I’m all mature and shit!

So what, you ask, is this magical improvinator?


It’s called Your Next Six Months Forever. It was created by Shanna Mann, who regular readers will likely know. (Among other things, she did the Goddamn Radiant session you can listen to.) Shanna is good people, and she is amazing at creating structure without strictures.

(I just made that up. She’s free to steal it as a new tagline.)

And Shanna has offered to give away two free copies of Your Next Six Months Forever to you! Hooray!

How to win a free copy of a resource that could totes change the course of your business.

Leave a comment telling us: What’s YOUR biggest downfall when it comes to making longterm plans?

Shanna and I will each pick our favourite answer, and that person will win a free copy of Your Next Six Months Forever.

You have until the end of Wednesday to enter and win!

Of course, you can just go buy a copy of the resource. It’s most definitely worth it. And if, like me, you’re finally ready to get good with structure? Then you should ABSO-DAMN-LUTELY sign up for Shanna’s newsletter and its free resource on structure called Be The Boss.

What are you waiting for? Get on that!

[The competition is now closed! Congratulations to Fiona and Elinor, who will have a deeelightful electronic copy of Your Next Six Months Forever winging its way to them soon. And thank you for the bravery and honesty of everyone who entered. MWAH.]

photo by: catlovers

37 thoughts on “Competition: enter to win sanity

  1. I am in complete agreement with what is stated herein. Including the part about making long-term biz plans despite pockets of resistance thanks to the incredibly helpful Your Next 6 Months (Forever). It actually got me excited about figuring out a business-y direction. If you are reading this, enter!!

  2. “What’s YOUR biggest downfall when it comes to making longterm plans?”

    Biting off more than I can chew.
    (usually because I include the things I think I *should* do, not just the ones I really really wanna)

    1. It’s funny, but when you actually start to parcel out what day or week things should happen, it resets your expectations rather quickly. I still bite off more than I can chew, but now at least it’s the matter of having to drop a few bells and whistles, not letting whole projects fall by the wayside.

  3. I write 3-4 novels a year, and at this point I intend to keep doing that for the foreseeable future. But I’m a natural planner and ‘keep doing what I’m doing’ is bothering me on a whole bunch of levels. I think I need to plan things around the books, but the books themselves are such big projects that I can’t seem to figure out what to do other than them.

    I’ve had readers say my books have changed their lives and I so badly want to keep doing that, but I’m afraid that one day I’ll look up from the computer and realize that personally and professionally I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I would dearly love a copy of “Your Next Six Months Forever” to make sure that I am always able to see the forest AND the trees of my life.

    1. Now that is an interesting problem to have. What’s the bigger goal here? Do I need a bigger goal? Where do I want to be and what do I have to do to get there.?

      Your forest and trees metaphor is accurate– I use one about a yo-yo. You have to zoom out to see the forest and in to see the trees at regular intervals in order to have a balanced view of your life.

      1. I am absolutely the kind of person who always wants a bigger goal, and so being in a place where I genuinely can’t see one is weird and frightening for me. I’m guessing it means I have worked well enough on my writing to be able to expand to other goal areas but that kind of scares me too.

        I love the yo-yo metaphor and will keep that in mind as I figure out what I’ll be doing in 2013. Thank you for it! 🙂

  4. My biggest downfall when it comes to making longterm plans: not following through.

    I’m great at the theory, at organising it all in my head, but I somehow forget that I actually have to DO stuff to get from point A to point Z.

    My focus shifts, my energy wanes, I see a new shiny thing that’s shinier than the shiny thing I was going after in the first place. (Why yes, one of my animal guides is a magpie; why do you ask?) I get wrapped up in what’s up in my face RIGHT NOW.

    I turn around and I’m… hmm… I’m not exactly sure where I am. I’m not at A, I’m not at Z, sometimes I’m not even in the alphabet any more.

    So yeah, I really need this!

    Elinor Predota
    (posting as A Sense of Place because I can’t work out how to log out of one Disqus ID and into another one *facepalm*)

    1. That’s exactly why I invented the system! “I’m not at A, I’m not at Z” and I would just lose my nerve entirely and start over from scratch. It made me so mad! This is how I taught myself to follow through…

  5. I make plans, and they seem like good plans at the time, but they never seem to take into account my depression/migraine/need to occasionally sleep for entire days/occasional inability to be a functional human being. Or when I try to take those things into account, then I can’t figure out how to come up with a plan that won’t take 12 million years to get something done. And then I get depressed.

    1. Oh, that’s so hard. “Planning for human frailty” I call it. One thing that I realized recently (ty Tim Ferris) is that having itsy bitsy goals in the short term is the only way to roll. That way you can feel like you accomplished something, however small, and maybe even get on a roll.

      Because what’s the alternative? You miss your target, feel like a failure, then the next day you have TWICE as much to do to just get caught up– THEN you feel miserable and overwhelmed.

      I was like, “OMG. THAT IS SO ME.” Hope this helps you too.

  6. I struggle with know the next right action; I have a lot of really awesome ideas and limited resources to make them happen so I have a lot of trouble knowing exactly what to do + where to spend my experience points. Not everything is guaranteed to be on the direct path to leveling up, right? I could make more prints, or postcards, or invest in some personal development, monthly InDesign subscription, new canvas, tiny advertising icon, fuzzy slippers, bottle o’ wine… I have a lot of Big Damn Plans and the moxie + gusto + budding bizz confidence to know where to start looking but no systems or real concrete plan in place to get myself there.

    1. I see that a lot– almost everyone is willing to put in the work– IF they know it will work. But how do you know what will work? Experience. What a catch-22, right?

      Still, I think you might enjoy learning about constraints. Constraints are wonderfully focussing, and they clarify decisions so well. Don’t have those resources? Cant do that. In a world of limitless possibilities, constraints are your friend.

  7. I’d have to say shifting priorities and uncertainty about when they’re actually changing or when Inner Me is just being resistant or lazy. so easy to outsmart oneself! Also, underestimating Life Things that get in the way.

    1. Isn’t that annoying? Because there’s really no way to tell if you’re resistant for good reasons or bad without taking time out to examine it. And in the meantime, deadlines are whizzing by! So frustrating.

  8. My problem is that I have lots of ideas for new businesses or business services buzzing around my head. I start something with great enthusiasm, spend days, weeks (sometimes months) planning and preparing my new business or idea – and then once I start alarm bells start ringing, telling me I am making a mistake: that I won’t be any good at it, I won’t enjoy it, I’m not as good as other people, nobody will want to buy it, and I stall almost as soon as I start.

    I’m great at short term planning: designing the website, the leaflets, the business cards, the initial plan – I can do all that – and to prove it I have, time and time again. But to get from that to actually going somewhere with it…..that’s where I fall down. Every time. Every business I start, starts with a bang and ends in a fizzle a few months down the line.

    The worst thing is that I am always quick to tell others what direction I am moving in, so I am left with having to explain to them after why I started the business/service but then didn’t follow through. I find myself making lame excuses: so much so that people have actually started commenting ‘so what are you doing now?’ and ‘here you go again!’ – which make me feel worse, and perpetuates the cycle of me telling myself I’m not as good as others. After all, how come so many people I know have successful businesses, but I keep jumping from one thing to another? How can they do it, but I can’t?

    This has happened time and time again, throughout my business life (and I have to say it also occurs in my personal life when it comes to diet and excercise).

    I know I come up with great ideas, but I can’t seem to get myself to take them any further than the initial planning and launch stage.

    I really need some help in:

    1.making sure I am heading in the right direction
    2.planning a long term strategy,
    3.sticking with the plan
    3.following through to success.

    Please help!

    1. Wow, Angie! I totally feel like I’m reading something I wrote about myself. Right there with you, girl! We should both win this thing and change our habits in for some solid, long-term productivity and success 🙂 Good luck!

    2. Angie, this is so thorough! You have so much clarity here. I have a great Making Changes series you get after signing up on my newsletter– I think you’re already on it, so you’ll definitely want to keep your eyes open for it (about two weeks after signup, I think). It addresses how to deal with talking too much, to the wrong people about your plans.

      Second of all, have you heard of Scanners? (I could do anything if only I knew what it was, by Barbara Sher) Sounds like you, and you should definitely look into it if you haven’t. Then you’ll be able to turn this hopscotching tendency of yours into a strength.

      1. Thanks Shanna,
        yes, i am signed up to your newsletter now 🙂
        I have heard of the term ‘scanner’ which is a fairly accurate description on what I do, but I hadn’t heard of the book, so I’ll check it out: thanks for the recommendation.

  9. I, for my part, am an excellent planner. Which is to say that I am *excellent* at making plans. I can dream and vision and write lists and create flowcharts and even make freaking Gantt charts till the cows come home. Even if the cows are a very long way from their personal domiciles when I start my planning session.

    Where I suck mightily, however is in the implementing of said plans. And – especially for longer-term plans – in figuring out how to balance flexibility and flow (which are core values for me) with enough persistence and stick-with-it-ability to have anything more than a snowball’s chance in the Sahara of actually making any of those long-term plans happen.

    So it’s sounding like with all the structure elements it containts, Shanna’s planning tool will be perfect for me, and I’d love, love, LOVE to try it out. And meanwhile, I’m definitely checking out her newsletter (too many people I have mad amounts of respect for recommend her stuff for me not to)



    1. I love planning too! It’s so much fun to figure out how things will fit together! I love it.

      I finally figured out how to love doing, too– to plan how to do the work, measure the work, and have smallish ‘projects’ that can be satisfyingly checked off at the end of the week. Once I turned my planning analysis skills to figuring out what had to be done when, that was the turning point for me.

  10. This is an easy answer. My biggest downfall to making long-term plans is commitment. My grandmother warned my now-husband the first time they met that I’m a commit-a-phobe, and he still learned the hard way. It took 5 years but I finally said yes last month. I have serious commitment issues to anything in the future. About 4 times a year I make a list of things I’d like to accomplish over the next 12 months. Without fail, the next day I wake up, re-read my list, and get so scared that I immediately take it to the super-high-tech shredder so I can’t be held accountable or be disappointed in 3 months when I rummage through my purse and find the tattered sheet of notebook paper folded into the size of a penny and completely unfulfilled.

    I would like 2013 to be different. I have BIG dreams and intense passions that I would love to chase after, but I can’t wrap my head around committing just in case I change my mind or hit a road block and stall out. I don’t want to look foolish to others I’ve proudly spoken to about my ambitions or feel further disappointment in my own lack of action. I want this to change. And maybe Your Next 6 Months Forever will be the breakthrough I desperately need.

    I’m open! Let’s do this thang!

    1. Ouch. That must have been a hard thing to hear from your Grandma. Sounds like you’re really stuck around the BIG dreams thing. How would it be if you said “I’m just going to plan for 3 months– and really commit. If I find out I’m over my head in three months I can stop and regroup or pivot.”?

  11. My biggest problem with long term plans is… sticking to them. There is always something else I’d rather be doing or an excuse I can make. I have plenty of willpower when it comes to money, but little things like an exercise routine or a writing schedule are really tough for me to stick to.

    1. Willpower is expensive! Can you find a way to do things that doesn’t involve willpower? Like frame it to be fun, or a challenge, or just something that you promised an accountability partner you would do?

  12. My biggest downfall in long-term planning is OVERWHELM. My end goal is often so huge and far away from my present that I have a hard time imagining all the pieces that will have to come together to make it so.

    Sometimes I do what the planning mavens suggest and “break it down into small chunks.” But each chunk seems to have so many options. Imagine someone who has just landed on our planet and has never shopped for cereal before. So they head to the grocery store and find SO many choices! Sweetened or sugar-free? Natural or organic? Oats or wheat or corn? With fruit? With crunchy bits? With a prize at the bottom of the bag? And that’s JUST ONE BOX OF CEREAL! It won’t even get you more than a week’s worth of breakfast! This is what happens when I try to tackle my “small chunks.” For heaven’s sake, I want to crawl back into bed just thinking about it.

    Earlier this week I had at least a dozen browser tabs open about how to do some little thing for my website that would be useful but not business-critical. But I felt I had to have it. And that was a dozen Very Important browser tabs down from about 20 that I opened during the search for information about it. Things that seem to take normal people a month can take me six. Overwhelm.

    Ultimately, I know that I get stuck in overwhelm because of fear. Fear that I am going to screw it up. Fear that people aren’t going to like me. Fear that I’m going to do really well and then I will feel like a total fraud because after all, it’s *only me*. Fear that I will be laughed at and publicly ridiculed. Fear that I won’t be good enough at what I do to honor every commitment I make. Paralysis in overwhelm, as hideous as it feels, is far preferable to any of THOSE options.

    My work has helped my clients gain huge clarity and insight into their next moves in their lives. It does no one any good for me to sit in the churned-up muck of my overwhelm. But my own momentum and planning strategies don’t seem to be enough to get me out of it.

    Thanks for asking the question. 🙂

    1. ” Fear that I won’t be good enough at what I do to honor every commitment I make”

      That’s something that really bothered me, too. I never could allow myself to get too successful because I just knew that getting too business would mean that things — important things!– would start to fall through the cracks.

      Eventually I realized I was hobbling myself because of that fear, and resolved to create bulletproof systems so that my busy-ness wouldn’t affect the quality of my client’s experience. No matter how busy I get I can always read a checklist. 🙂

          1. Looks like a good read; thank you! Funny, I have no problem developing systems and checklists for other people’s businesses, but when it comes to my own… stuck in overwhelm again. Looking forward to reading this one.

          2. I read it a while back and my Evernote is now full of checklists. 🙂 So useful! (Oh, and Shanna, THANK YOU for the “be a boss” book. The difference between a checklist that you follow step-by-step and one that you check after to make sure you didn’t miss anything has for some reason never been obvious to me, but now I know I tend to make ‘check after’ ones and that’s why I’ve felt weird forcing myself to follow step-by-step. I wasn’t wrong! Yay! 🙂

  13. Oh, where do I begin!!!??? I’m a possiblities person, and I have a pretty wide ranging skill set. I know my passion is teaching and encouraging. My skills lie in arts & crafts (so many different mediums it would make your head spin!) particularly working within a budget. I know that if I combine passion with skill I should be able to make that into a business, but with so many options (painting, stamping, copics, photoshop … I could go on…) I am struggling to narrow it down to one (it’s like being told to pick your favourite child!). I want to teach people to unleash their creativity, and I want to do it in a big way … AND I have been given the most amazing opportunity for exposure on TV … but there is a piece missing and I don’t know how to make the most of it. Add to the mix 2 kids who creative, challenging and unusual in their own right (with the possibility of home schooling one), and just the simple tasks of keeping the house … well … I could really use a plan.

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