My title
Making Ideas Happen

Have you ever wondered why Some Creative People Are so good at Making Ideas Happen?


Some people say: "I'm going to write a book" and you stumble on their book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. You think to yourself "I could do that," but then you don't.

But there also people who make grand gestures on Facebook all day long. They announce the books they're going to write, the podcasts they plan to start, etc. They forget that nobody gives a shit what you're going to start. All that counts is what you finish.


Why I wrote this Guide


A persistent challenge I've noticed with people over the last 10 years is their struggle to bridge the gap between vision and reality. They can't take the first step or finish what they start. This is why the internet is a digital graveyard of creative projects that people started in a moment of temporary inspiration.


For close to a decade, I was the poster child for starting things I never finished:

  • Muay Thai Kickboing
  • Electric bass lessons
  • Online courses

Just to name a few. But by learning the ideas in this guide, I started a podcast, built an audience and eventually wrote two books with one of the biggest publishers in the world.

Anybody can get good at making ideas happen. They just need the right framework

This guide will help you avoid being yet another casualty of inspiration. And it will teach you how to become the type of person who is masterful at making ideas happen. Let's get started.

Don't have time to read the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 

In this guide you'll Learn


1.How to Manage and Increase Your Attention Span

Your ability to focus in the foundation for making ideas happen.Without it you're always going to be at a major disadvantage. But with it, you'll have a powerful tool see ideas through to completion.

2. Design the Right Environment to Make Your Behavior Automatic

Your environment is a hidden advantage that you can optimize to reduce your dependency on willpower, make your habits automatic, and transform into the next best version of yourself.

3. Build Systems to Keep Your Projects Moving Forward

Systems are what tie everything together. They help you remember, organize and take action on everything that matters.

4. How to Take Consistent Actions and Develop the Right Habits

Execution is how you bridge the gap between idea and reality. With habits and small daily actions, you quickly become the type of person who produces consistently.

5. Leveraging The Power of community to make Ideas happen

Making ideas happen is almost impossible without the help of other people. By leveraging community you can compensate for your weaknesses or knowledge gaps, get feedback, and connect with people who help you stay motivated.

6. Promotion

There's no point spending countless hours, weeks, months and years making ideas happen and telling nobody about them. If you don't believe in your ideas enough to promote them, why would anyone be interested in them?

Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 

No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 


Part 1: Attention 


Attention is the currency of achievement. If you can't focus long enough to see an idea to completion you'll always struggle with making ideas happen. In his book, Deep Work, Cal Newport offers the following equation:


"Intensity of Focus x Time Spent = Quality of Work"


If you get really good at managing your attention, you'll produce higher quality work and spend less time on it.


How The Attention Span Works


The capacity of your attention span is limited. "We have a restricted ability to distribute, divide and sustain attention, actively hold detailed information in mind and concurrently manage or even rapidly switch between competing goals," says Adam Galley in his book, The Distracted Mind. This is why you're not effective when you multitask.


In the modern world, digital distractions are a perpetual assault on your attention span. They derail your productivity for two main reasons.


1.  Variable Rewards

The fact that you never know what you're going to get when you check your email or update your status on social media makes both of them addictive. Creators designed products like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with that intention.


You could receive a flood of digital validation with hearts, likes, retweets and other meaningless metrics. Or you might check your email and discover an invitation to a speaking engagement. As Jocelyn Glei said in her interview on The Unmistakable Creative, your email functions like a slot machine.

2. Attention Residue


When you shift your attention from one task to another, then return to the original task, you experience attention residue. And your ability to work on the first task suffers.


Say you're in the middle of writing something, but you leave chat or email open. Then you receive an email about an issue you can't deal with immediately. When you return to writing, you'll be thinking about the "fire" in your inbox. Hence the reason we say social media status updates are where your dreams go to die.


Fortunately by designing the right environment, you can ensure you don't derail your productivity.



Improving your Attention Span


1. Work Analog

Try starting your day with a physical notebook instead of a to-do list app. "When you open your notebook, you automatically unplug and it momentarily pauses the influx of information so your mind can catch up," says Ryder Caroll in The Bullet Journal. Notebooks are fertile soil for creative ideas and can do wonders to increase your attention span.


2. Take Deliberate Breaks

When you check email, text messages or social media during a work break, you increase attention residue and decrease focus. If you want to maintain your focus, get up for a glass of water or stare out the window. That way you'll give your brain a rest without ending up down an internet rabbit hole.


3. Interval Training/Pomodoro

If you try to focus for an hour after years of being distracted, you'll find it difficult to manage your attention. The best way to overcome this is through interval training or the pomodoro technique.

Work in 20-minute focus blocks with 2-minute breaks. After you're able to do that, increase it to 25-minute blocks with 5-minute breaks. With just 3 20-minute periods of uninterrupted creation time, you'll drastically increase your capacity for making ideas happen.


4. BrainFM

BrainFM is an app that uses the power of music to help you focus in 15 minutes or less. And it definitely works. I signed up for 5 free sessions and didn't think twice about upgrading on my 6th session because it was so effective. Now I use it daily.


5. Meditation

Mindfulness is a powerful tool for increasing your attention span. You are training your ability to focus on one thing: your breath. Emily Fletcher, founder of Ziva Meditation, recommends 15 minutes twice a day.


If you've never meditated, that will feel really difficult. Just apply the concept of interval training to your meditation habit and you'll get to the point where you can meditate for 15 minutes.


Part 2: Environment


There are 9 environments that make up your life. And everything you, hear, see, smell, taste and touch is an environment. Your work space, the information you consume, the food you eat, the car you drive, the clothes you wear and the people you surround yourself with are elements of the environment that makes up your life.


One of the biggest reasons people struggle with making their ideas happen is that that their environments are full of distractions. It's hard to focus when you have a dozen things competing for your attention at the same time.


If want to increase your attention span, decrease the competition for it. You'll get much better at making ideas happen.


"If you want to increase your attention span, decrease the competition for it"


Put things away

Distractions come in all forms, not just digital. If you struggle to focus, you should treat ANYTHING that's not relevant to the task at hand as a distraction.

  • If you're a writer, consider having nothing on your desk other than a pen, notebook and a book to read
  • When you're reading a book, make sure it's the only thing on your desk
  • A painter might need nothing other than some brushes, paint and a canvas

"Distractions are pieces of goal-irrelevant information that we either encounter in our external surroundings or generate internally within our own minds," says Adam Gazalley in his book The Distracted Mind. Put away anything that you consider irrelevant to the task at hand.


Turn Things Off

Something is always on in our modern day environment. We have multiple browser tabs and chat windows open and an endless stream of pings, dings, and notifications. In a self-improvement seminar my friend attended, Brian Tracy said, "For success in life, turn things off."


  1. Don't start your day on the internet. The first 3 hours of your day can dictate how your life turns out and the mind is fertile soil for making creative ideas happen when you wake up in the morning.
  2. Leave your phone out of the room or turn it off altogether. Research shows that just the presence of a phone can be incredibly distracting.

You need to give your brain the space for making ideas happen. If things are always on, it's difficult to connect with your inner voice and intuition.


Optimize Your Device for Focused Creativity

At some point you will likely need to use technology for making your ideas to happen. The key is to be deliberate and intentional about how you use it.

  1. Block Sources of Distraction for a Set Amount of Time: Our tendency to cave into sources of distraction is a habit. By using a distraction blocker like Rescuetime, the environment will do the work for you. You won't be able to access distractions even if you try.
  2. Work in Full-Screen Mode and Use Distraction Free Tools: By working in full screen mode, none of the other shiny objects on your computer will be visible. As a writer, I love distraction-free writing tools like Notion. The moment you start typing the interface disappears.

The more deliberate you are about how you use technology, the less it will derail your productivity. 


Work in the Same Space at the Same time Every Day

Professionals create on a schedule. Amateurs wait to be inspired. By creating on a schedule, showing and doing your work in the same space every day, your behavior and environment will eventually get linked. You won't have to find the motivation to start.


Design the Environment to Reflect Your Future Self

Your working environment should reflect who you want to be in the future. For example, the other day I was interviewing Ben Hardy about his new book. I mentioned that I had framed prints of the people I have already interviewed but was going to get album covers made for the people I want to interview.


Optional: Give Each Part of Your Environment a Focus Score

One of our favorite exercises here at Unmistakable Creative is to audit our environments. Look at each part of the environment described above. Then rate each one on a scale of 1-10. That will give you a clear sense of whether you've designed an environment for optimal performance and creativity.

Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 


Part 3: Systems


Systems are the linchpin that enable people to come up with ideas and translate them into reality. They transform sporadic creators into prolific ones. And once you build one for yourself, you'll wonder how you ever managed without it.


The problem with goals like selling a million books or going viral is that they're out of your control. It's difficult to know if you're making progress. You lose your motivation and struggle with building creative momentum. Scott Adams makes the following distinction between systems and goals.


My problem with goals is that they are limiting. Granted, if you focus on one particular goal, your odds of achieving it are better than if you have no goal. But you also miss out on opportunities that might have been far better than your goal. Systems, however, simply move you from a game with low odds to a game with better odds. With a system, you are less likely to miss one opportunity because you were too focused on another. With a system, you are always scanning for any opportunity. - Scott Adams


You may not realize it, but you already have systems in your life:

  • Auto Bill Pay
  • Getting ready for work in the morning
  • Organizing your closet


All of these are systems in which an input or combination of inputs leads to some output. When it comes to making creative projects happen, a system is a combination of focus, environment, habits and your tools.



A System is like a Factory for Making Ideas Happen

The purpose of a system is to help you remember, organize and take action on everything that matters. It helps you to focus on the process instead of the outcome. You want to design one part of your system to capture ideas and another part of it to translate those ideas into reality.


Think of your system as as factory for making ideas happen. Imagine your tools as people who work at your factory. Then give each one a job.

  • Capture ideas (note-taking tool)
  • Organize information (cloud-storage)
  • Produce raw materials (writing software)
  • Calendar /Office Space/Task List (Where/When/What)

These are all inputs into your system. As the owner of the factory, your job is to combine those inputs into an output or idea.


If the tools you use aren't aligned with your goals, your factory is redundant. It's like having an employee who costs you something but adds nothing. Conduct an audit of the tools in your idea factory. Avoid what Cal Newport calls 'the any benefit mindset' by using the following table.


Example: Making a Movie 

Say your creative project is a movie. Your inputs will include:

  • A screenplay
  • Actors/actresses
  • Camera equipment
  • A camera crew
  • Film editors
  • Scenes for your film
  • A central location for all your visual assets

As the director of a film, your role is then to put all of those things together so that the output is a movie.

It might seem counterintuitive to approach your creative work as if you're running a factory.


But this is where you can apply a bit of classical economic theory to the creative process. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote about division of labor. With division of labor, you can increase the output of the factory. And we can take the same approach with creative ideas.


The purpose of a well-designed system is to divide labor between various inputs, so you as the creator can focus on output.


"The purpose of a well-designed system is to divide labor between various inputs, so you as the creator can focus on output."


Unlike the factories of the industrial revolution, there's zero marginal cost to your creative idea factory. The price is the same whether your write a blog post every day or one every month. As a result, your capacity for making creative ideas happen is limitless.


Like any factory, if you don't update the equipment every now and then, you'll reach a point of diminishing returns.



3 Criteria For Effective Systems


1. Controllable

When it comes to creative work, you can't control how the audience will react or how your critics will respond. You have no control over whether something will be a commercial smash or a box office flop. The only thing you can control is the effort you put into the process.

  • Writers can only control whether or not they write every day. They can't control whether a blog post will go viral or a book becomes a best-seller.
  • A podcaster can only control the effort they put into the work. But they can't control how many downloads an episode gets.

Your system for making ideas happen will be more effective if you focus on the process instead of the prize.


2. Repeatable

Trying to reverse engineer a blog post that goes viral sounds nice in theory. But it's hard to repeat. You could repeat the structure, replace the content, check all the boxes and still nothing would be guaranteed.


A repeatable system is one that leads to consistent action.


Hitting a daily word count, working on something for an hour a day or making a set number of sales calls are all repeatable actions.


3. Sustainable

96 percent of personal development efforts fail because people make their effort unsustainable. This is why you end up with a desk drawer filled with unfinished projects and ideas that never see the light of day.


Don't underestimate the power of consistency and starting small. The easiest way to make your system sustainable is to focus on consistency over intensity. You'll make more progress by doing something for five minutes every day than doing it for three hours every month or week.


The little things you do repeatedly will ultimately lead to big changes in your life.



The Steps to Building a System for Making Ideas Happen


Capture

Capturing ideas, actions, thoughts and responsibilities is the foundation of every effective system. Think about how many ideas you come up with each day. Nobody has a shortage of ideas. They lack the discipline to capture their ideas.


Below you'll find 3 different capture systems with the pros and cons of each one. Regardless of the system you pick, they key is to actually use it.


The Spark File

A Spark file is the brain child of author Steve Johnson who describes it as follows:


A single document where I keep all my hunches: ideas for articles, speeches, software features, startups, ways of framing a chapter I know I'm going to write, even whole books. I now keep it as a Google document so I can update it from wherever I happen to be. There's no organizing principle to it, no taxonomy - just a chronological list of semi-random ideas that I've managed to capture before I forgot them.


The loose structure of the spark file is great for capturing your ideas, but not so much for making those ideas happen.


The Bullet Journal

The the bullet journal is distraction free by default and because you use a notebook, you can customize it according to your workflow. To set up your a bullet journal, organize it as follows:

The Daily Log is what Ryder Caroll calls the workhorse of the bullet journal and it includes:

  • Tasks: things you need to do (represented by a bullet)
  • Notes: thoughts and ideas (represented by a dash)
  • Events: dates, meetings, etc. (represented by a circle)

You can learn more about it in our interview with Ryder Caroll. The only downside to the bullet journal is that you don't have the information at your fingertips with a quick search on any device. But almost everyone who starts using it wonders how they ever lived without it.


"When you open your notebook, you automatically unplug, it momentarily pauses the influx of information so your mind can catch up." - Ryder Caroll


The Action Method

The Action Method is a framework from Scott Belsky's book Making Ideas Happen. The premise of the action method is that everything is a project with three key elements:


  • Action Steps: The actual outcome of any idea is dependent on the action steps that are captured and then completed by you or delegated to someone else. Action steps are specific things you must do to move an idea forward. The more clear and concrete the action step is, the less friction you will encounter trying to do it. Verbs help pull us into our action steps at first glance, efficiently indicating what type of action is required. ****
  • References are project-related handouts, sketches, notes, meeting minutes, manuals, websites or ongoing discussions that you may want to refer back to. References are not actionable now but maybe will be someday. Examples include an idea for a client which currently lacks a budget, or something you intend to do with a particular project in the future.
  • Backburner: Things that are not actionable now, but maybe will be someday. For example, you might have an idea for a new project or an idea you want to explore. But because it will distract you from the current project, you make it a backburner item.
  • The Action method is the system that we use to work on every project at Unmistakable Creative.

Systems are not magical elves who let you sit on your ass while they do all the work. As our community manager Milena says, "Any system only works as hard as you do". But at least you'll be working on the right things.


Personally, I use a combination of three systems. I plan my days using the bullet journal, capture my ideas and organize them using the second brain and manage projects using the action method. See the video below for a more detailed overview.


Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 

Part 4: Execution

To push your ideas to fruition, you must develop the capacity to endure and even thrive as you traverse the project plateau. You must reconsider the way you approach execution. The forces you can use to sustain your focus and renew your energy do not come naturally. Making ideas actually happen boils down to self-discipline and the ways in which you take action. - Scott Belsky


Once you've designed a distraction-free environment and built a system for making ideas happen, you have to do the work. Habits, Flow, and Accountability are the essential ingredients of execution. They're the inputs that produce the output for translating your ideas into reality. Habits as the compound interest of self-improvement and creative habits are the compound interest of any creative project.


Habits

Anybody can build good habits and break bad ones. You just need to have the right approach. Everything you've read until now is a precursor for developing habits so you don't have to rely on willpower.


For the sake of this example, say your project or idea is writing a book. To finish a book, you need to develop a daily writing habit. But if you're a person who doesn't already write every day, you'll might start strong, but struggle to sustain the habit. 


That's why you should start with what BJ Fogg calls Tiny Habits.


Start so small that you feel zero resistance. If you can't follow through, that's a sign that you're not starting small enough.


The Anatomy of Daily Writing Habit

First, break the habit into its individual parts (aka the tiny habits that make up the big one). For a daily writing habit, for example: For the next several weeks do the following:

Flow

Flow is the creative superpower that makes the impossible possible. And if you want to get good at making ideas happen, you have to get good at hacking flow. Not only does it lead to a 500 percent increase in productivity, but it also amplifies all aspects of performance.


In a flow state, you can write 1000 words in 15 minutes. When you're not in flow, producing the same quantity and lower quality can take over an hour. Getting into flow seems like a mystery, but you can reproduce by using what Steven Kotler calls flow triggers.

  1. Clear Goals: Rather than just write, you write for 1 hour or aim for a specific word count. Putting a number in front is the easiest way to make your goal clearer.
  2. Focus: Your ability to focus is the fuel that lights the fire of creativity. To achieve flow, you MUST avoid multitasking at all costs.
  3. Challenge/Skills Ratio: A task needs to be difficult enough to make it challenging, but not so hard that you become paralyzed with anxiety.
  4. Environment: It's hard to do great work when you hate the space you're living and working in. Your environment needs to be rich, uplifting and inspiring.
  5. Time: It takes about 90 minutes of uninterrupted focus on ONE task. If you find this difficult, check out Brain.FM which uses music to help you focus on demand in 15 minutes or less.

You'll know you're in a flow state when time flies and work feels like play. 


Personal Accountability

As the owner of the idea factory, you have to hold yourself accountable if you want to get good at making ideas happen. You need to create self-imposed deadlines and timelines to finish what you start. Act as if you were your own client.

  1. Impose false time constraints: According to the Pareto Principle, the time we allot to a task is how long it will take to complete. If you think something will take two days, challenge yourself to do it in two hours.
  2. Take Small Daily Actions: Maintaining momentum during a creative project comes from consistency, not intensity. You'll have a hard time staying motivated if your effort isn't sustainable.
  3. Buffers: Life rarely goes as planned. And the same holds true for making ideas happen. Expect the unexpected and build buffers into your project plans. Give yourself a bit more time than you think you'll need. This way you avoid a last-minute frantic scramble.


The more thorough you plan, the less time you'll spend executing.


"The more thorough you plan, the less time you'll spend executing"


Making ideas happen is not an inherent ability. It's a skill that anyone can develop with enough practice. Start with a simple project like planning your weekend with this framework. Once you're able to do that, attempt a more complex project.


Every time you make an idea happen, you'll gain confidence in your ability to bridge the gap between vision and reality.


Track Your Progress

When you use a typical to-do list app, the complete task usually disappears. In theory, this sounds great.

Your brain makes progress towards the finish line on a project based on the perceived distance to the finish line. When you can't see all the tasks you've competed, then the only thing your brain is able to perceive is: "I'm not at the finish line yet."


But if you see the list of tasks crossed out on a piece of paper or even an app, you'll not only maintain your motivation, but you'll start to accelerate. This is basically known as having "success accelerants." You'll have the wind at your back instead of fighting against it. I've included a screenshot below from a table in Notion to give you an example.

Notion gives you the option to filter completed task out of view. But if you want to keep a project moving, it's better that you don't do that. If you want to get even more fancy, you can put a completed task in your daily list before you start the day and trick your brain.

Give it a try tomorrow whether you're using a notebook, or to-do list app.



Staying Motivated

With any project, you're going to run into challenges, obstacles or a loss of motivation. Your natural temptation in moments like this will be to quit.


Reframe Frustration as a sign of progress

When I started learning how to surf, the process was beyond frustrating. I'd fall off my board, end up with gallons of water up my nose and then come out feeling disheveled and demoralized. What I didn't realize is that I was making progress the entire time just by showing up. And when I did finally stand up on a board, two months of enduring frustration led to a level of joy that changed my life forever.

If you reframe frustration as progress, you'll be less likely to quit when you lose your motivation.


Walk Away

I don't do most of my writing at my desk. I do it in my head when I'm out surfing or snowboarding because nature has a powerful impact on creativity. In front of my desk I'm just capturing the ideas I thought of in the water or on the mountain. When you're stuck, sometimes the best thing to do is walk away and come back to a project after a few hours or few days.


Navigating Ambiguity

Because the creative process isn't linear, you have to learn to navigate ambiguity. You often won't be able to see how the pieces of puzzle fit together.

  • Authors often write the introduction to their books after the final chapter
  • Filmmakers often don't know how they will put the scenes together until they've filmed all of them

Imperfect or inaccurate action is better than standing still because it will reveal something you didn't see before.


The MacGyver Method

MacGyver, who can make a bomb out of a stick of gum is the brainchild of Lee Zlotoff. Lee developed something known as the Macgyver Method to help him write each episode of the show. And it's another powerful method for making ideas happen, especially when you're stuck.


You can listen to our full interview with Lee here.


Staying Focused

One of the biggest obstacles for making ideas happen is having too many ideas. The solution for this is to abide by the 5-project rule. Make sure you're working on no more than 5 projects at a time. Some projects could take a year, while others might take a month.


With the 5-5-5 Method for making ideas happen, you set five small meaningful and attainable goals at the beginning of each month. At the start of each week, write down 5 milestones and at the start of each day write down 5 actions you'll take.


If 5 projects feel overwhelming, focus one project and apply the same method.


Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 


Part 5: Community


The myth of the lone genius is pervasive in popular culture. But if you look at any company, creative project or product, there are multiple people behind the scenes who make the the accomplishments of the person who gets the credit possible.


While Steve Jobs was a visionary, Jonanathan Ive, the industrial design team, and hundreds of amazing engineers have been critical to the success of every product Apple has made.


When you're making ideas happen, a community provides you with like-minded individuals who help you motivate you, the opportunity to receive feedback in a safe space and the chance to find potential collaborators for your projects.


Like Minded Individuals

As creatives, most of our work happens in isolation. Time in our caves is a prerequisite for making ideas happen. To the rest of society, we're the outcasts, weirdos and misifts who are misunderstood.

When I go to dinner with a bunch of my parents' friends who are doctors, I'm not comfortable talking about work. It means answering questions like, "Oh, is that lucrative?" from people I barely know.


But if I sit down with a bunch of writers, we can talk about our work and we have a mutual understanding that what we're doing matters a lot to us. They are my people.

If you want to get good at making ideas happen, you need to find yours.


Share Ideas

Perfectionism prevents people from sharing their ideas. But ideas can't evolve in a vacuum. They require public exposure and a willingness to be imperfect. That's why it's important to share them.

"Research indicates that sharing ideas significantly increases the odds of ideas gaining momentum and ultimately happening." - Scott Belsky


When sharing ideas, make sure you've done something. "I have an idea for...." might get you some attention. But it's hard for people to help you if you don't have something concrete. If you don't share your ideas, it's hard for people to help. Aim for progress rather than perfection.


Ask for Feedback

People want feedback, but they don't ask for it. Unfortunately, mind-reading is not a feature of the internet or the listener tribe. Don't be shy about asking for feedback. That's what the community is here for.

The value of feedback is inarguable. It is a powerful sobering force that can help refine good ideas, kill bad ones, and postpone premature ideas that are not yet ripe. - Scott Belsky

The writing coach who helped me with my two books didn't ever sugarcoat her feedback. It took me a month before I stopped taking the feedback personally. I realized she was doing the job I had hired her for: to be tough and push me to do the best work of my life. Her feedback was difficult to hear at times, but I always had to remind myself that she was on my side.


When you ask for feedback, remember that people in this community are on your side. They want you to succeed.


Be open-minded about the feedback you receive. We abide by a no asshole rule in our listener tribe, but that doesn't mean we need to devalue constructive criticism. Say what you like. Say what you don't. Making a suggestion is a good way to provide feedback.


Seek Accountability

For feedback to be valuable, you have to do something with it. That's where accountability comes in.


Accountability groups and partners have great power to keep you motivated. You tell someone you'll do something, but if you show up and haven't done it, then you're wasting their time and yours. That's why we will set up a topic here called Accountability Partners.


Tell someone you're searching for an accountability partner and do the following:

  1. Ask them to hold you accountable
  2. Tell them what you'll do
  3. Let them know when it will be done

Nobody will hold you accountable unless you ask them. To build an accountability group within the tribe, use the following parameters that Scott offers in his book.

  • Limit your group to 15 members or less
  • Establish a clear and consistent schedule for meeting
  • Meet frequently and stay accountable
  • Assign a leader

Make a Public Commitment

"When you commit, your community will be more willing  to commit resources to help you" - Scott Belsky

There's something powerful about making a public commitment. Your integrity is on the line. When you tell people that you'll do something and you don't, people stop taking you seriously. You lose their trust when you don't follow through.


Show Your Work

You have to show your work to someone if you're serious about making ideas happen. It's a chance to celebrate your accomplishments and it gets you to a place where you are more comfortable with self-promotion. Both will help you stay motivated.


Don't be shy. A community thrives on generosity. If you don't have one of your own yet, join ours. It's free and full of generous people with a diverse skillset. Don't underestimate what they could help you do.


Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you. 


Part 6: Promotion


When you hear or read about internet success stories or the latest viral sensation on the internet, it's easy to buy into the "if you build it they will come" fantasy. But unless you let people know what you've created, you'll have the metaphorical equivalent of a restaurant full of empty tables.


Tactics

In a world of noise, loyalty is more valuable than reach. Kevin Kelly's idea of 1000 true fans is more relevant today than it was when he wrote about it 10 years ago.


  • Find your audience of one: When you don't have an audience, your only goal is to find that first fan. It doesn't matter if it's your mom or best friend. One of my earliest readers was a woman named Geri Jbara. She arranged my study abroad in Brazil. She read my stories when I had no audience and motivated me to keep going.
  • Do things that don't scale: Chris Guillebeau built a MASSIVE audience by personally emailing the first 1000 subscribers to his list. It's what he called the Small Army strategy.


Mindset

The desire for artistic validation from people you've never even met is a recipe for having your ideas linger in obscurity instead of making them happen.


What keeps many people from promoting their work is fear of criticism. But it takes far more courage to be a creator than it does to be a critic.

  • The courageous creator promotes his work. The coward trolls the creator via email, comments, or whatever method he can find to express his disdain for the artist's work.
  • The courageous creator makes more art. The coward makes more noise.
  • The courageous creator serves the people who adore and admire her. The coward looks for his next victim.

But the artist has a personality defect that causes him to read reviews, take them seriously and wonder if he should change in response to critics.


If you take the cowards and critics seriously, you run the risk of playing it safe, holding back, and hiding the no-bullshit version of yourself from the world and the people who need and deserve to hear what you have to say.


As Seth Godin once said, "Anonymous feedback from people who I have no relationship with will cause me to do nothing but hide."


People have called my work everything from a gift to the world to a disservice to humanity. Artistic opinions are subjective. Every New York Times Best-Selling Book and Oscar-winning film have one- star reviews.


Becoming good at self-promotion is 90 percent mindset, 10 percent tactics.

If you want to get good a promotion, fuck the critics. Make more art.




Making Ideas Happen: Some Practical Examples


Unless you apply your knowledge of making ideas happen, it's no better than never having learned about this at all.


Making a Blog Happen

Say your project is starting a blog. You can then apply the framework from this guide as follows:


  • Design a distraction-free environment: Don't overlook how critical this is. Your environment will determine your progress and timelines for the project. The less distractions there are in your environment, the less time it will take.


  • Build a toolbox for your idea and give each tool a job: to start a blog, you'll need to buy a domain and hosting for your site. Additionally, you might need a notebook, some writing software, or a project management tool. Fortunately, Notion is an all-in-one workspace that gives you all of these things.


  • Develop a capture system and give every piece of information a home : Your capture system is where you'll write down ideas for blog posts, action steps like buying a new domain, and notes from books you've read, etc. It's the central repository for all the information related to your projects. Again, you can use Notion for this.


  • Identify the habits you need to develop: For a project like starting a blog, a daily writing habit is the one that will have the biggest impact on your goal.


  • Take small daily actions: Start small and build your way up. You might start by writing a few sentences a day and eventually build your way up to a page a day.


Even though I've applied this framework to starting a blog, you can apply it almost any idea. Use the template below to plan out your personal approach for making ideas happen.

Untitled


The Difference Between Formulas and Frameworks


You might be tempted to treat this guide as a formula for making ideas happen. Formulas sound seductive and easy. But they cause you to overlook a blatantly obvious variable that throws off every formula for success.


With a framework, you customize everything according to YOUR strengths, weaknesses, and needs. The reason I have such a detailed system for making ideas is happen is because I'm usually working on 3-4 projects and have to get shit done despite having ADHD.


Take what works for you. Discard what doesn't. Design your personal system for making ideas happen.


  • In Part 1, you learned about the importance of managing your attention. This is the foundation on which everything else in this guide is built.
  • In Part 2, you learned about how to design your environment to make your desired behaviors automatic.
  • In Part 3, you learned how to design systems for making ideas happen. With systems, you're able to put the bulk of your energy into the creative process instead of the activities that surround it.
  • In Part 4, you learned how to develop habits, track you progress, and master execution.
  • In Part 5, you learned how to leverage the power of community to hold you accountable and help you stay motivated.
  • In Part 6, you learned the importance of self-promotion. If you don't believe in the value you of your ideas you can't expect that anyone else will.

Are you ready to start making your ideas happen? Until you take the first step in the direction of a dream it will remain a fantasy.



Don't have time to read  the whole guide right now? 


No worries. Let me send you the full guide as a PDF with links to interviews, books, and tools mentioned throughout the guide so you can read it when it's convenient for you.