You’ll want to grab a notebook and writing implement, ’cause we’re about to scribble. This is one of those more-questions-than-answers episodes to help you wade through the murk of overwhelm and into tangible answers and parameters. (It’s also meant to make you feel hopeful about your future! If at any point you find your asshole brain shouting hateful commentary at you, come back to the place where you are well, your next steps are entirely doable, and you’re capable of completing the task before you.)
Once you know what your Next Most Important Thing is (that’s Structure That Doesn’t Suck, part 4!), it’s your job to bring it to life.
Mostly that feels overwhelming, though, so you figure you’ll buy a class or seventeen to help you learn to do the thing better before you start doing it for real. Or you decide to finish up alllll those pressing tasks like organizing your pencils and learning to knit before you add any part of this project to the calendar.
You will be tempted to push your Next Most Important Thing to a vague but ever-present ‘later.’
This, the final episode of the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series, is all about bringing your important work into the right now of your life.
I’m going to use the example of The Softness Sessions, a course I made this year that opens again in March of 2020, but you can use this framework to support any of your important work. Classes, workshops, photo shoots, books, magazines, videos, coaching packages, therapies, you name it!
Let’s actively create a container for your work.
Lunas are plagued by nebulous, undefined, unclear, ever-shifting and broadening work.
For Luna, this is about pinning down details and choosing a way forward from a web of infinite possibilities. Yes, it can be tricky. No, it’s not impossible. This exercise is about aligning what you can see in your mind’s eye with what you can produce in the physical world.
Hermiones are plagued by safe, sturdy, reliable, secretly-bores-you-to-tears work.
For Hermione, this is about taking risks and trying on new ways of being in the world. It’s about aligning what you feel with what you do every day, not trying to separate the two and then paper over the disparities with busyness.
Questions and answers form the most basic level of your Next Most Important Thing’s structure.
When I was making The Softness Sessions, I knew I wanted to combine breathwork with the hardest life lessons I’ve ever learned in an approachable way. I knew I wanted the course to include audio lessons that are completely portable and reusable, and I wanted to actively dance between using words and wordlessness throughout the program. It was important to me that those who take the class walk away with an increased knowledge of their own interiors, not merely listen to blah blah blah on my end.
I didn’t have ANY idea how the physical world form of The Softness Sessions would take shape.
So, I started asking questions.
How long would the course last? Six weeks felt good.
Where would I host it? I looked into a new publishing system that would include creating new infrastructure, but I decided to use a system I already had in place. (Teachable, if you’re curious.)
How would it be delivered? Via weekly email, sent on Thursday.
How long would each session last? The teaching portion would last for under thirty minutes so that each session would be under an hour. Time was really important to me, because without that parameter I could easily have made seventeen 3-hour classes that no one had the fortitude to finish.
Finally, when did the course take place? We start on March 19th, 2020! You can sign up at thesoft.space!
With a few questions, we went from a nebulous ‘beginner course for breathwork’ to a 6-week class with 1-hour sessions (hosted on my teaching platform and) delivered on Thursdays via email.
Physical world decisions make a container in which your creativity can flourish.
Infinite possibilities are overwhelming! If you’ve ever been to a bakery and stared at the display case in gooey-eyed wonder, unable to pick a single thing, you know the overwhelm is real. Physical world parameters create a way forward when you can see only choices, choices, and more choices.
Let’s draw out some physical world characteristics and use your instincts to answer the questions. (There are no right or wrong answers here, only answered and unanswered questions.)
When in doubt, make it smaller instead of larger to prevent scope creep.
Read: three people instead of three thousand people. Five paintings in an art show instead of fifty. Ten new clients instead of two hundred.
First, remind yourself of your Next Most Important Thing. Take a moment to feel it within you. (Whether you like it or not, this project lives within you right now! How does it want to FEEL?)
How will this project be defined? Weeks, months, modules, hours, pieces? Other?
How many of the defining unit will be used? i.e. 6 weeks, 3 modules, 2 hours, 8 pieces?
How many people can participate in the first project? 3 people, 30 people, 300 people?
What is the single most important daily activity you’ll have to complete to make this happen?
What is the smallest, simplest feasible version of the thing? (i.e. the living room tour, not the multi-continent arena tour)
What is the cheapest, most fun way this could come to light?
Which resources already at your disposal could be used to make this happen?
When will the Next Most Important Thing take place?
Now, write a single paragraph that sums up what you’re making, and by when.
Let’s get even more specific.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to not know! Scribble the first answer that comes to mind. Your asshole brain is NOT welcome here.
What is the tippy-top most general thing that has to happen in order for this project to take place? (i.e. writing if you’re making a book)
Which people can you ask for help, guidance, assistance, or advice about this project?
Which people can you ask for help, guidance, assistance, or advice so you can clear your most dreaded physical world obligations for long enough to complete this project?
What is a very, very low price for this thing? What is a very, very high price for this thing?
What, in your estimation, is a fair price for this thing?
Which person or group of people will help keep you from getting caught up in perfectionism, procrastination, or both?
When will this be completed? Date and time on the calendar.
When will this be released to the general public, if applicable? Date and time on the calendar.
Write another paragraph that summarizes what you’re making and what you’ve learned before you continue.
Okay, that was the easy part! Now we’re going to tackle your beliefs.
You’ll want to skip this part. It will seem silly and hippy woo bullshit to consider these possibilities.
DO NOT SKIP THIS PART. We are making a roadmap for your future self to refer to when the going gets rough, tough, or impossible.
Where are your beliefs about scalability likely to trip you up? (i.e. This isn’t big enough, I’ll just add _________ and ________ and _________ and instead of offering it to 4 people I’ll try and get 4 THOUSAND people interested!)
Where are your beliefs about passive income likely to mess with you? (i.e. I could do this course I’ve never done live ONLINE and make the BIG bucks with NO effort because WHITE CIS HET MALE PODCAST GURUS say it’s the best way!)
Where are your beliefs about what’s possible likely to take you down? (i.e. I could never get paid for that.)
Which parts of this project are you likely to overthink or overcomplicate?
Which parts are you likely to ignore because they’re uncomfortable or difficult?
Where are you likely to get hung up in perfectionism or procrastination?
Those are the MOST important questions you can ask about a project. You’ve outlined the demons you’ll be facing as you bring it to light.
Your Future Self thanks you for making this list!
Finally, take time to add pertinent basics to the calendar.
Add the daily task you’ve got to complete for this to happen to the calendar. This is a Bare Minimum type task, like writing 200 words, or editing for 20 minutes, or asking one more person to participate.
Use your self knowledge to create a doable make-it-happen calendar that allows for making, marketing, and completing the project with the help of your Bare Minimum task(s).
If you’re a Luna, your job is to complete the daily task that moves the ball forward without fail. There’s generally one small, simple task — writing, painting, sewing — that gets you the most bang for your buck. DO THAT THING. Every day.
If you’re a Hermione, your job is to let the making — not the marketing and selling and fixing and perfecting and scaling — take center stage. Stick to that deadline you’ve created, because you could easily take the next seventeen years to make this thing more and more perfect before you release it.
Structure That Doesn’t Suck supports your whole self by creating and then maintaining a Hermione or Luna Hour, then helps you bring your Next Most Important Thing to light by giving it parameters in the real world. I hope this series has helped you sort through the overwhelming number of options available for everything — including your own work — in order to do the next right thing in the coming months.
If the Structure That Doesn’t Suck series has you feeling confused or frustrated or like, OH GOD THIS ONLY MADE IT WORSE I NEED HELP — or you now have an outline but you know you need help bringing it to life! — you’re a good candidate for business coaching. KK on Tap means you’ll work with me for a full year, and we’ll get this structure thing under control.
KK on Tap biz coaching spots open in January, so get on the waitlist now!
Also! There are 35 new podcast episodes in 2019! If I helped you make more than $35 in your biz this year — support this ongoing work with a payment of $35 at kristenkalp.com/podcast.
The Softness Sessions start in March, and you can pick ’em up at the Early Bird Price of $88 right now!
P.S. Please enjoy the happiest of every holiday ever!!!!
I’ll release a new podcast on 1/1/20. The whole regular-podcasting-and-checking-of-email-enterprise will resume in earnest on January 14th.
Between now and then, I’m moving from Philly to Portland (a few thousand miles, for those who aren’t up on U.S. geography). Hugs and hope and all good things to you between now and then!