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In yesterday’s post I threw out the word habit in regards to writing this blog. It’s a super hot word right now and for good reason – The totality of our habits make us who we are.

I remember when the word habit was reserved for evil things like smoking, drinking and overeating, but nowadays it’s also entrenched in startup culture, self-improvement and positivity.

All this habit talk and research is due in large part to Charles Duhigg’s excellent book, The Power of Habit, so it’s only fitting to use his words to define a habit:
“First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.”

He also speaks of, the evolutionary reason for habits, quite simply, the brain is trying to conserve effort.  The strongest example I have of this personally is from when I was on the first day of my juice fast and walked downstairs to watch TV and without thinking grabbed my favorite snack out of the pantry. For me the cue was walking down the stairs and watching TV. That was completely eye opening to a habit I was totally unaware.

This all ties back to the idea of being consistent in whatever you decide to do. The easiest way to create consistency is to make it something you do every day and if you’re like me, picking a time that you do it every day helps too.  Another helpful tool comes from Jerry Seinfeld, suprisingly and it’s very simple. Get a calendar, mark the day if you’ve done your thing that day and “Don’t break the chain.” Since implementing it I’ve been way more consistent about exercise, writing and working towards my goals. Credit to seanwes for bringing this to my attention.

Little things every day, change your habits and improve your life, because, as I said, you are simply the totality of your habits.

“Your desires can easily lure you into biting off more than you can chew.” – James Clear
Good blog on self improvement with a ton of content.

“Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities.” – Jen Sincero, You Are a Badass.
Not specifically about building habits, but using habits to create other beneficial change in your life.

“My friends, my habits, my family. They mean so much to me.” – Modest Mouse, One Chance

My Strategy

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A large part of my strategy in launching this blog in the fashion that I am is transparancy.  I know I have valuable information to share in a voice that is unique, but I am also fully aware that I have never done this before and there are many aspects which will be new territory. Which is why I made the conscious decision to be completely open about my process through these posts, in hopes that through my successes (and failures), you’ll have built in learnings.

Plus, if it inspires you to start and stay consistent then regardless of the outcome, I consider that a win. Seriously go get started, whatever it is.

My first post covered the month of December and the very clear goal of posting every day and this goal has two main benefits. The first is to create a bulk of content very quickly, thus eliminating any concern I can have over no one wanting to spend time on the site due to lack of content.  I’ve had this fear in the past when considering starting a blog, and I’ve heard it from friends thinking of starting a blog. Boom, eliminated in 31 days.

The second benefit, and probably even more important than the first is to create the habit and solidify the discipline. Writing is powerful tool for both creating and implementing your strategy and even though I take time consistently (3-4 times/week) to journal or stream of conscious, I know that creating a daily writing habit, and having those writings focused towards a common goal will pay dividends. I recommend listening to this seanwes podcast on writing. He does a great job of laying out the vast benefits of writing, even if you’re not a writer.

Writing and posting daily is only one of three goals that I have for December. Goal #2 – get the site looking better and flushed out to include an about page, a resources section and maybe a few other nuggets. Goal #3 – start an email list and get 100 people signed up.

Here’s the overall breakdown:

Today – create the habit, share some knowledge, inspire the masses (and by masses I of course mean my wife and my friends, at least to start), write, write, write.

Soon – create an email list by directing traffic to the site and obtaining sign ups from people who find my content worthwhile. I’ll go deeper into how all this is done as I begin implementation.

In the next 6-8 months – work on a book/course combo which will be very much tied to the work I’m doing here. As of now they will be complimentary and the working title is “Reduce User Friction”

Beyond and/or in conjunction – community tools, a series of meet-ups, speaking gigs and a podcast.  This could be a slack channel, coffee dates in different cities, a Ted talk and a podcast on product management, or it could be completely different. What I do know is that the vision I have for what I’m building involves aspects of all of those things (and if things go really well a lot more), but just as I would build any other product (which is what this is), feedback from my users (you), is going to be crucial and my own learnings will clearly take things in new directions.  Just from writing this post today I created 3 other posts all coming your way this week, including a post on habits, a post on my (non-existent) content calendar and a post on writing.

So, like the blog itself, my strategy is a work in progress, but I’m focused on the vision and on Today and Soon, and to a lesser extend the next 6-8 months. The important part is, you need to write it down and refer back to it frequently. Take 3 minutes every day and read your vision and high level goals. This will help keep them top of mind as you’re making strategic decisions as well as carve them a little deeper into your psyche.

Four days into and I’m really pumped.  I’m so excited to share my knowledge with you as well as have you along for the journey.  It’s funny how close excitement and fear live in relation to one another, isn’t it?

Vision vs. Strategy

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Yesterday I wrote about vision (your why) and stressed the importance of identifying and following that vision throughout your entire process.  Monday’s post will be focused around how to identify your vision and boil it down into an elevator pitch and expand it around a mission, but before I dive into that I want to stress the difference between vision and strategy and explain why you need to have a grasp on both.

Vision is the belief that humans could one day master flight and fly through the air like birds. The strategy is building the first plane, or maybe even strapping some wings to your arms and jumping off a building.

Vision is colonizing Mars. Strategy is systematically eliminating all of the impediments that currently make that unrealistic.

Vision is losing 20 lbs. Strategy is the diet and exercise routine you write down and follow with extreme discipline until your vision is reality.

Vision is the end goal and strategy is the plan.

It’s crucial to seperate these things, because not every plan we make is going to work and sometimes the strategy needs to change, while keeping the vision in tact.

This type of adjustment is called a pivot, and very simply it is a change in the overall strategy without changing the vision. The first attempts at flight didn’t work (and some are even laughable now), but the goal to fly through the air like birds didn’t change, just the strategy to get there.

I’ll go more in depth on pivots and when to pivot in a future post, but for now just understanding that you need both and that your vision needs to remain solid through adversity is key.  That is not to say that your vision can’t change, it is just a much bigger deal and usually requires a complete overhaul instead of a minor shift.

Tomorrow I’ll write about my strategy and the steps I’d like to see completed in over the rest of the month and into the beginning of the new year.

In addition to day 3 of posting, I updated the theme today to a paid theme, which gives me much more control than the free one I was using before. A $39 theme called Salient. I began to tweak the settings, just a bit and the site already looks better. Each small step is building upon the work of the previous day and that consistency is culminating into something almost shareworthy.  And that’s only three days.  If you haven’t read it yet, go back and read my first post on the 31 day challenge and the power of consistency.