Jul 312015

I’m here. Now what?

It’s really weird how it happens. I’m on top of the mountain and things never look the same/

It’s always fun nailing a big goal or finishing that huge project, but then I have no idea what I’m supposed to do next.

My own career track — and later my frelance pattern — runs something like this:

1) Work like a deranged beaver toward some goal.

2) Achieve said goal.

3) Decompress.

4) Holy crap, this job suddenly got difficult and I can’t stay interested.

5) Not giving a rip.

6) Career change just to keep me interested in something.

Maybe I’m not the most stable person around, but a Harvard Business Review piece suggests it’s not just me:

“High-stress situations and the adrenaline rush they produce can be addictive. When the constant sense of urgency we’ve adapted to comes to an abrupt halt, we experience withdrawal.”

Okay, so I’m an adrenaline junkie. Tell me something new.

But again, I’m not the only crazy fool around here. A 30-year-old Michael Jordan did this in ’93 when he abruptly retired from basketball. He wanted to try his hand at baseball (and the tabloids suggested he had other reasons for quitting) but he’d already established himself as the best baller known to man. So what’s a guy like that do next?

HBR suggests things like gearing down a little to restock the pond, finding a fresh new project or being a mentor.

I don’t have a real answer here. Best thing I can think of is to do it again. While I was doing final draft on my most recent fiction work I was already scribbling out scenarios for the next one. Fifteen days after hitting Publish I was pounding on the typewriter for yet another first draft. So I had 15 days to decompress, semi-sorta outline, prewrite some scenes and maybe take a day or two off. Oh yes, and do a little something to celebrate and mark the occasion. Can’t forget that. But get ready to hit that next project.

How about you? Any suggestions or ideas? Please share.

Jan 292013

It’s pretty overwhelming when you look at the scope of a large project. You plan to write a 90,000-word novel, build a company that will out-FedEx FedEx, pitch your idea to a few hundred or so investors/agents/buyers; all of that looks huge. It’ll kick your butt before you even start.

Rip that project into manageable chunks. Rather than taking a constant look at the big picture, what’s the next action? It’s easier to write 500 words or pitch to two markets today than it is to gulp down the whole project.

Like a friend of mine said, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. (This friend also swears it tastes like chicken, but let’s not go there.)


(If you’re interested in this idea, check out David Allen’s Getting Things Done. While his productivity methods have a high geek factor, his idea of next actions makes his whole concept worthwhile, even essential. You”ll find a link to his book in this blog’s sidebar.)