by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto
Failure is an option.
And who knew you could fail in so many spectacular ways?
Well, as your fearless, Freelance-Zone correspondent, I’ve tried them all in an effort to bring this travesty to light. (Oh, noes, the brightness of “travesty light” is too much! I must be carried offstage on soft bedding, surrounded by the cliché of cabana boys! Quick, quick, boys! Pamper me….)
Take the Failure Quiz: #19 – #34
Do you answer YES to any of these? If so, your goal may not have a chance in hell.
(Just joining the fun? #1 – #18 are HERE.)
#19 You think if you get behind today, you can make it up tomorrow.
Goals fail one day at a time. The first day of failure is your only chance to catch the problem and create a solution (which is never the word ‘tomorrow.’)
HINT #1: The solution is to re-plan, not to work extra hours. For you to stay on target you’ll already have to work extra hours, because everyone –even you—underestimates the time needed to achieve a goal.
HINT #2: Re-planning involves changing something! The deliverables, the goal, the date, the people involved, the success criteria, or something else substantial.
And yet, what do people do? Everyone decides the human resource (you) should just work harder and faster. If that were a solution, you’d already be doing it and not be behind.
#20 You don’t track meaningful metrics.
Met-what? Units of meaning. For example,
- Hours spent writing are only useful and meaningful if you’re paid by the hour.
- Words or pages per day are only meaningful metrics when combined with project milestones (what needs to be accomplished by the end of those words or pages).
- Marketing effort and investment only makes sense compared to results (unless your goal was to spend a lot of time and money with no results).
So what does make sense?
- Progress through a story by Act and Scene/Event.
- Forward movement through a script based on the steps in the Hero’s Journey.
- Effectiveness of hours spent writing. (3 hours writing = completed 1 article, plus Act II, Scene 37)
- Success of marketing efforts. Called 5 business to partner in January marketing event, got 1 yes. Time: 45 minutes.
#21 You don’t use your metrics as a reality check.
If it consistently takes you about 15 hours to write a scene, you might not like that fact, but it is all yours to own, for better or worse.
Soooooo tempting to want it to take only 2 hours. Yes, my preciousssss. Other people… they can do it in 2…..
Stop that. Magical thinking is not your friend.
#22 Tangents R Us. You don’t know your critical path.
You’re focusing on the wrong things. Doing the wrong things.
(Sometimes it’s even your focus/obsession on the planning down to the tiniest detail, color-coding it, and putting it all in Excel.)
Know your critical path. Track the critical path. Everything else is just pretty and shiny.
What is your critical path? It’s the core doing-ness that actually puts you one step closer to your goal, in a real way.
It’s not just a task that is linked to your topic or would be nice to do.
This is the task that if you don’t do it, the next piece of work can’t be done. Making it (ahem) critical.
Want a little test? It’s the work that (a) if you don’t do it today, the project can not move forward tomorrow, and (b) you won’t reach your goal ever.
It’s easy to spend time on tasks that aren’t on the critical path. Frankly, when something matters less, it’s less stressful and easier to approach.
But it doesn’t really help no matter how you justify it, even if you need it eventually. Eventually isn’t your critical path. Eventually is la-la land. Continue reading