Today I want to talk about the way I’m changing how I work, and how this change is a direct response to the challenges many of you face, and the goals you hope to achieve.
The Two Things Standing in Your Way
The other week, I asked my email subscribers what their biggest creative fear was. While those who responded described their fear in slightly different ways, a common theme emerged. When it comes to accomplishing their creative goals in 2016, the most common fear is this:
“That life will get in the way. That I will become distracted by competing demands on my time, lose focus, won’t get to the creative work I dream of.”
Sound familiar? I hear this type of confession again and again in my work with writers and creative professionals. Challenges that always come up are:
- Distractions. And not insignificant distractions, but real responsibilities: family, day job, health, etc.
- Time. The hours, the days, the months, the years seem to slip through their fingers. Dreams seem to be forever unfulfilled because days pass by and suddenly all you have to show for it is exhaustion.
Missing Your One Shot at Success
I have worked with so many creative professionals as they work towards the moment when they are launching their work. For instance, after years of hard work, their book is finally being publishing.
But many, when they’re ready to launch, are basically freaking out because they don’t want to miss their shot at success.
It seems as though everything is on the line. It’s not just the chance they’ve waited for to create something, but the success of this thing feels so closely tied to their identity as a person.
This feeling can become overwhelming: If your thing fails, then you as a person, fail.
Of course, that’s bullshit, but many of us tend to internalize our emotions this way. Especially at a time when we have invited the world to experience our most personal work — i.e. around the publication of our book, launch of our idea, or unveiling of our art. This is when you are screaming, “Hey look at me, my book is finally here!” — and then seconds later want to say, “Um, well, don’t look too closely at me. Because if it fails, I don’t want to feel the judgment of your eyes. Or the judgment of my own eyes in the mirror.”
So how do we solve for this? This pressure that we feel when we have that one shot at success? Too often, we tend seek out two things:
We look for a genius idea that will save us hundreds of hours, avoid embarrassment by failing, and delivers instant success.
We take free webinar after free webinar. Go to conferences. Read books on how to launch our thing. Take courses. And while all of these things are good, I hear from a lot of people that they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas presented to them. They are left with hundreds of competing ideas floating around in their head.
The result? They try too many vanilla “best practices” and set vague goals based on what others tell them they should want.
They wait for the key insight to happen — whereby the process of launching their work and finding their audience suddenly feels easy and accessible.
But the reality is that ACTION is what matters, not waiting to hear the simple hack or shortcut that will magically deliver an audience to you. Action, at the moment when you are the most terrified, lonely, and confused because this is your big moment. Action, when it seems like everything is on the line.
The other week I wrote about filmmaker Casey Neistat, and his wisdom fits in here as well: that in the creative process, the idea is the least valuable part. Execution of that idea is the only thing that matters:
“Ideas are the easiest part. But realizing [that idea] is unbelievably hard.”
That doesn’t just apply to you creating the work itself — in this example, a book — but also in how you ensure that book finds an audience. The solution is not a shortcut or a hack, but to get clear about your goals, your focus, and commit. Not to follow the hundreds of conflicting pieces of advice you hear, but craft a path that is truly your own to reach the people who will love your work.
Part of me fully understands that I don’t have to tell any of you this. Each of you is out there saying back to me, “But Dan, I have committed. Years ago. And it’s still hard. I’m still swamped. Time and distraction still trip me up.”
Which brings me to…
I’m Changing How I Work
So I’m changing how I work with private clients. I spent a few months with my friend and colleague Jennie Nash rebuilding my consulting process from the ground up. We were solving for the stuff listed above, with a simple prompt:
“How can I ensure my clients make the most of their big chance?”
So I took the foundation for what has worked over the past five years, and supercharged it. I thought about the key phases. The steps that should be completed each week. And mostly, I thought about how my team and I can take the work off of my client’s plate and onto mine.
To not just provide a great strategy, but to do the work alongside them. To remove distraction by executing the steps with them. To give them clear direction so they will feel less muddled and lonely in the process of creating and launching their dreams.
It comes down to this: My team and I will become YOUR team. We will do the work with you. And we will ensure you don’t fail when you have your one big shot.
The new way I work is called Build a Better Audience. Below is the basic outline of my six key phases. Even if you never even consider hiring me, I think you can leverage the process for your own success:
If you want details into the process, click here.
What Success Looks Like
In developing the program, I have been digging back into the hundreds of experiences I have had with clients in the past five years. If you want to see the reality of what this process looks like, here are some case studies of how strategy meets reality:
- Case Study: Launching a Bestseller, with Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
- Case Study: Successfully Funding a $40,000 Kickstarter Campaign, with Sarah Towle
- Case Study: Establishing the Habits that Led to the TODAY Show, with Teri Case
- Case Study: Clarifying Voice and Moving a Career to the Next Level, with Kelly DuMar
- Case Study: Finding Time to Create with, Vanessa M.
- This is my story of building a successful career as a creative professional
As you approach your own work, the key thing that you get to decide is what you want your story to be. The story not just of the work you create, but how you share it with the world.
I’d love to help you in that process. Email me to let me know how I can best do that.