Note: This post was written on 3/1 and finalized today.
I believe many people fail in their attemps to make new habits and accomplish things because they set up rules and strategies at the beginning of a project but then don’t go back to review and update them frequently enough.
I want to share an example of how I review my strategies.
Ask The Right Question
Be sure you know what you are reviewing. Reviewing your strategy is not the same as reviewing your interest in the strategy (or the mission or project, for that matter). “Do I want to put in the effort to do this?” might be a good question when checking in with yourself, but it’s not a good question to check in with your strategy.
A question like “Is this strategy a good one?” is really asking for a judgment. How will you arrive at that judgment? If it’s a personal project you might not have any metrics or clear vision and as a result base your answer on how you are feeling in the moment. If the work has been exhausting you or if you are hitting lots of walls you might be tempted to say it’s a bad strategy. But sometimes the work you need to do IS exhausting or DOES require hitting lots of walls. Don’t let your current emotional state make the decision.
Another situation the “Is this strategy good?” question can be tricked is Shiny New Things. Some bright shiny new thing is seen on the horizon which looks more fun, exciting, and promising (at a distance) and the whole enterprise reorients toward that. Until the next Shiny New Thing appears on the horizon. This can keep happening and delay or completely prevent you from getting where you want to be.
One more thing to be on the lookout for is: Feelings can trick you into thinking they are intuition. Intuition is real, but before you change the whole strategy based on your “gut”, make sure you aren’t in any kind of heightened emotional state. One of the best tests for real intuition is if it happens during moments of emotional calm.
The question to ask is “Is this strategy still a good one.. to accomplish the goal?”
For this question, you could use metrics and have rules that determine if it is working. But I’m talking about goals that are more casual and don’t exist in measured environment.
An Example of My Strategy Review
Currently I draft blog posts 5 days a week and the other 2 days a week I update drafts and put them on the schedule. I’m currently scheduling 4 weeks out.
Scheduling that far out causes this problem:
I draft something today and it doesn’t get finalized for another month and then by the time it hits the scheduled, it’s posting yet another month out. By the time a reader see it, it’s way old news. Instead, I’d like to schedule it and have it go live in just a few days.
So instead of asking “Do I like this?” or “Do I want to do this?” (these questions are for a higher level analysis), I investigated the strategy. Is this strategy still a good one to get me to the goal?
Well the goal was that I’d have posts twice a week. It’s done that. In fact, the problem is that I have *too much* content and things are backed up in the pipeline. But really, the goal was that I’d have two TIMELY posts. I didn’t really state anything about timeliness in the beginning. So the answer is really.. no it didn’t get me to the goal.
Then I dig in with some why’s.
Why do I have so many posts in the pipeline?
Answer: I was worried I’d run low on posts so I made a buffer.
Why do I think I would fall behind?
Answer: I was afraid that not everything would be post-worthy or that I’d miss some days of writing.
So here’s where we see that obviously this has not come to pass. I blogged 175 days in a row. Most of the content is good enough (IMO) to publish. In fact, I have 6 weeks of publishable posts and another 24 weeks of posts that need final edit. I have LOADS of posts. The odds of me not producing anything for months is practically zero.
Now I can see that I can change the strategy to adjust for reality.
Since every day is easier than some days, I’m not going to stop blogging every day. Which means I’ll have more content. One of the goals of the mission is to have a blog with lots of good content, so why not push more of the content out? I’m going to keep my 4 Scheduled and 8 Final Draft, but as long as I have more than 24 items in First-Draft form, I’m going to schedule a 3 post each week and see how that goes.