Download: MP3 (60.8 MB)
Domain name. Hosting. Logo. Business plan. Employees. HR. Hardware. Software. Training. Property rental. Video gear. Money to pay for it all.
Building a brand sounds like a great idea until you start thinking about all of the things that need to be done.
What was once an exciting idea has become a mountain to climb, and you don’t even know what to pack for the journey. It seems unconquerable because there are so many things.
Someone once said the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. In today’s episode, we’ll give you some ideas for defining that first step so you can get started.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Break up your tasks into small, tangible steps so you can get quick wins.
- Knowing your goals will guide you to what you need to move forward instead of overwhelming yourself.
- All you need to do to start is to take one step.
- Writing is the best way to focus when everything feels overwhelming—get stuff out of your head.
- Ideal tools are pieces of what you need to learn, but you start by understanding concepts.
- Talk to people who have been where you are now.
- You probably need less than you think you do to accomplish your goals.
- When getting started feels overwhelming, focus on a single small task.
- 03:48 Cory: This came from a question that I received in an email from Karen. She said, “My biggest struggle at the moment when it comes to building my brand is being and looking professional. I’m a doodle artist, so I make doodle art, but I need a professional-looking website, which means that I need a domain name, hosting, a WordPress theme, a logo, a blog, later it will be on a YouTube channel, online shop, online courses and newsletters. I need the software, the hardware, a scanner, microphone, and printer, for example, and the expertise to use them. Everything needs to look coherent and professional.
- 04:28 “I’m at a place where I’m struggling to ramp up everything just from my art to the whole infrastructure necessary to look professional. There’s a wealth of information about all of these, but sometimes that’s a hindrance. I have to look into so many options, and it’s hard to go from zero to professional-looking in a short period of time. I need less options and more solutions.” That’s the thing, right?
- 04:55 Whenever we’re getting started on something big, it’s easy to feel like it’s either impossible, it’s too far out of reach, or the amount of work it’s going to take to get to the goal is incredibly overwhelming. I think it’s especially hard for people who are trying to build brands, because the tendency is to look up at the people, the brands, or the companies that have achieved what we want to achieve. We look at the Apples of the world, the Googles of the world, and all of these different companies. Maybe it’s not even that big.
- 05:41 Maybe we look at smaller brands and companies, people who are doing stuff that we want to be doing, and we see where they are and we think about that spot, that place, and it feels really overwhelming.
What Are Your Goals?
- 06:00 Kyle: Yeah, it’s kind of like how Cory and I talked before the show about how he wanted a camera. Years ago, I did photography for a while, and I remember getting my first DSLR, and it came with a lens that came with the kit. Then I got on all these photography forums, and I was like, “Right, I’m going to be a professional photographer. I’m going to do this, learn all I can.” The more I started learning, the more I heard about wide angle lenses, telephoto lenses, macro lenses, ultra-wide lenses, and fish eye lenses… This is really expensive!
- 06:47 I want the best of these and I want all of them. It was way over my budget, especially at the time. So many people were talking about so many different things that it was really overwhelming, and I think that’s a lot of where this question comes from. The best thing to start with is to step back and say, “What are my goals? What do I actually want to do?” For example, with photography, do I want to do landscapes? Do I want to do portraits? Do I need a DSLR? Do I just want to take photos of my family?
- 07:41 Cory: You can even take a step back further from that and say, “Why am I buying this camera? Do I want to be a photographer?” In my case, in the pre-show, we were talking about how I spent 30 to 45 minutes before the show going down all of these rabbit trails for these cameras and looking at online ad websites for people who had DSLRs or mirrorless cameras. I got Shiny Object Syndrome (Related: seanwes podcast e178 How to Resist Shiny Object Syndrome, Do More of What Works, & Double Your Revenue).
- 08:10 I was like, “It would be so cool to have this camera,” and I’m forgetting, primarily, that I don’t need that. I’m not a photographer. I’m not in a place in my life where I want to focus on photography. I have a perfectly great iPhone with a great camera, and I have two lenses from Moment Lens, a 60mm and an 18mm that I can attach. Technically, I have three lenses on this small camera, and then I also have a Sony RX100 Mark 4.
- 08:40 I do all of my vlogging and video on that. Those are perfectly great tools for what I’m doing right now, for what I want to be doing in the immediate future. It’s not even just, “What camera do I get? Why am I getting this camera?” Sometimes, you have to go way back, really big picture. Not big tasks, big picture. What is the purpose of doing this? In regards to the topic, what’s the purpose of the brand? What is the end result? What’s the legacy? Where’s the place I want to get to?
Ask yourself what your goals are.
Those questions will guide you to what you need to move forward instead of overwhelming yourself.
Take the First Step
- 09:15 Cory: Start with your purpose, and as you begin that process, starting at the big picture level, you can dial in deeper into what’s next and what the next steps are. Kyle and I always mention that we have a conversation the day before we do our show. Someone once said, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” If I look forward at the journey and I see this 1,000 mile journey and I think, “That’s so impossible.”
- 10:11 We were talking about this, and I remembered that in 2002, when I lived in Washington state in the United States—I have to say that, because I don’t live in the US anymore—I was a boy scout. Eventually, later on, I ended up getting my Eagle Scout rank. We had an outing with the whole troop to climb Mount St. Helens. If you don’t know Mount St. Helens, I’ll tell you the story. In the 1980s, there was this mountain in Washington that had this huge explosion. It erupted. Look it up.
- 10:58 It’s a really fascinating historical moment, because the ash was so massive that it carried around the world. I was 12 years old, and I went with my troop to climb this mountain. To climb this mountain, there are steps you have to take. There are periods on the trail, the way to the summit, that are very different. The first part is a hike in a forest. It’s a mile long, maybe, and then there are giant boulders that you have to get to. After the boulders, it’s more of a rocky, canyon-y path. Then you get to a respite where it’s just dirt. There are a bunch of different sections like that.
- 11:56 You get to the top, and the part before the top is all sand. It’s really, really fine sand and ash, and it’s so fine that you take two steps up and one step back. It’s this last grueling part to get to the summit, and then you’re at the top and it’s great. Now, if you’re at the very bottom of this mountain and you’re looking at the top, you’re thinking, “I need to get there.” It’s so high up, you may not even be able to see the top, depending on your location. You just know that you want to get there.
- 12:30 If that’s all you’re focusing on, you can’t focus on the forest ahead. That’s the first step. It’s just a mile. It’s just getting through that first part. The way you get to the summit is by tackling smaller steps and by figuring out how to accomplish those smaller things. That’s what we want to get into today, to give some ideas. This isn’t a step one, step two, step three, here’s exactly what you need to be focusing on, but we want to help you figure out how to figure out what to focus on.
All you need to do to start is to take one step and that’s not too hard.
Begin With the Skill
- 13:10 Kyle: Actually, a couple of days ago, possibly yesterday, there was a conversation in the seanwes chat about someone who was starting their thing. They were at this point where they were saying, “I kind of have a website. I post my stuff one place sometimes, and I don’t really know where to start.” Of course, there are a lot of people in the Community who are trying to market themselves and do a lot of things, and they’ve built up this momentum over time where they’re able to stretch into these other forms of content production because they’ve worked on their skills and gotten better.
- 13:58 It seems really overwhelming. I shared my list of things that I do every week, and for me, I have that down. That’s a system. But for this person I was talking to, it was like, “That’s a lot of things. I don’t really know what to do.” My best advice for them was to focus on their skill building. You’ve said you’re at a point where you want to focus on learning your craft and making sure that you’re really good at that, the thing you’re actually selling with your brand. You don’t need to focus on all these other things.
- 14:36 Maybe post things on one platform or share things somewhere. Sharing is important. But they were feeling very overwhelmed about where to start and what to do, and skill building was the beginning.
- 14:55 Cory: It’s interesting. So often, we look ahead at the kind of illustration we want to do, the kind of art we want to produce, the kind of design we want to make, the kind of website we want to build, the kind of app we want to develop, or the kind of house we want to build. We look at those things, we look at the end product, and we realize, “If I’m going to build a house, I need to learn how to swing a hammer or use a nail gun or use glue in the right way, to build a foundation that is going to make this house.”
- 15:33 You have to allow it to stand. The way to do that is by starting at the top and working your way backwards. You say, “Okay, in order to build this house or develop this app, what do I need to do? What do I need to know? How do I learn those things?” You’re talking about skills. If you want to be a great illustrator, you don’t start with getting the right program or the right pens.
- 16:23 If I want to be a character illustrator, I need to know things about depth, color, shading, 2D vs. 3D. I have to start very basic. You have to know what you’re doing, and you have to know how to do the things you want to do. That’s the big picture idea that comes down to starting. You’re saying, “I need to know what skills I need to have to move forward.” That’ s a great place to start for some people.
Ideal tools are pieces of what you need to learn, but you start by understanding concepts.
- 16:52 Cory: Other people may already have the skills. They’ve started on the path they want to go. Another way to figure out what to focus on is to write. Kyle said this yesterday, and this is brilliant. Write! You have to write stuff.
- 17:19 Kyle: I was thinking about what you were talking about there, Cory. Writing is really important for your brand. Being able to articulate what you’re about, who you’re working for, and even being able to sell a product, market to people, and connect with people in a way you need to, all of it starts with writing.
- 17:50 Cory: One of the reasons to write, to sit down with a pen and paper or at a computer, is to start getting things out of your head.
- 18:08 You need to get some copy together. You need to brainstorm. You need to brain dump. Seriously, go spend $40 and buy Omnifocus. I bought it for the iPad, for the Mac, and I think I’ve spent about $100 on this software because it has changed my life. If you have a Mac, go get Omnifocus. If you don’t have a Mac, get Asana, get Trello, get Wunderlist, whatever it takes. Get stuff out of your head.
- 18:34 All of the tasks, all of the things—create contexts, projects, and folders of all of the things that need to be done. As much as you can think of, it has to get out of your head. Only when all of your thoughts are out of your head can you begin to figure out what the priority is. I’m listening to this book right now called Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It’s fantastic.
- 19:12 One of the things that he mentions in the book is that, over time, we’ve changed the word “priority” into “priorities.” The word “priority” literally means “the first,” the top. When you have multiple priorities, you actually don’t have any priorities. When you say, “This, this, and this are the next things I need to do,” it doesn’t work. You can’t do five next things—you only get to do one next thing. As you’re figuring out what to focus on, get your app or your bullet notebook and get it all out of your head.
- 19:57 That’s where writing comes in. This is key for all of the aspects of your brand. It’s so important, because it helps you identify the things, the tasks, the stuff. For instance, one of those projects might be a website. Break that down into tangible steps, into things to do. One of the worst things you can do is to say, “Get a website up.” That’s the worst way to write down what to focus on.
- 20:27 Instead, say, “Bullet item/task: read article X on building a WordPress site from scratch. Research domain names that are available with a .com with my brand name. Buy domain name. Buy hosting package. Link domain to host.” Those are all steps, the single steps on the journey of 1,000 miles. When you say things like, “Walk through the forest,” instead of, “Go past that tree up there,” the whole forest seems so massive, and the forest is just the step for the mountain. You haven’t even gotten to the mountain yet.
- 21:11 Figuring out what to focus on requires that you have quick, small wins, the things that build up into the larger total goal and accomplishment.
One of the most important things about figuring out how to focus when everything feels overwhelming is to get stuff out of your head.
You have to break up your tasks into small, tangible steps so you can get quick wins.
Don’t Try to Do It All at Once
- 21:24 Kyle: Some of these things that you see from other people, or even things we’ve talked about on this show, may not be right for you yet. For example, we’ve talked about building your own platform and the benefits of that. While I believe it’s very important, you may be at a point where you don’t need to invest the time and energy into building your own website. Maybe Squarespace is a good option for you right now. Maybe you’re trying to figure things out.
- 21:52 Maybe you’re just starting. This whole topic made me think of when I started everything, when I started my brand. What was I doing? I had a Squarespace site at the time. I was sharing a portfolio of things. I didn’t have blog posts or anything. I don’t think all of that was necessarily to my benefit at that point, but I was very focused on skill-building. I had that, and I was outputting work at least once a week on Dribbble, which is a social media platform for designers.
- 22:29 I had built up this fairly good audience there. I had about 500 people or so, and all the other platforms were kind of dead. I had very few people on Twitter and anywhere else paying attention to what I was doing. I wanted to bring in clients. The focus was to put work out there to show potential clients and bring them to my site, where they could contact me. I didn’t necessarily need my own platform at that point. What I needed was the funnel I just talked about. That was my business model.
- 23:04 It was client work. I needed clients to see what I was doing, come to me, and we had a project together. Then, I was creating case studies. That was the small beginnings. It’s easy to look at someone further down the road. That was two years ago. Now, two years into it, I have my own platform with a blog and this podcast and I’m doing seven videos a week on YouTube. I do several other things a week on different social media platforms, so there’s all this content going out.
- 23:42 It’s easy to see that and think, “I need to do all this stuff or I’m not going to get to that level. If I don’t match the output of someone else, I’m not going to be at their level. If I don’t have the same things other people do, it’s not going to work out for me.”
- 24:04 Cory: There are a few things there. Back in the mountain example, it’s easy to look up to the people who have reached the summit instead of the person who’s right in front of us. We compare ourselves to people who have built huge brands, and we think that we need everything that they have. Step one, compare yourself to yourself. As you move forward, you have to remember where you’ve come from. Remember the steps that you took just a moment ago.
- 24:36 Realize that you’re closer to the summit, or maybe that you’ve slid down a little bit, but at least you know yourself. At least you have self-awareness. You know yourself more than anyone else knows you. You’re the person who knows you the best. Compare yourself to yourself.
Everyone starts somewhere, so you don’t need to try and do everything at once.
Don’t Look Too Far Ahead
- 25:02 Cory: Those are the people who are going to be able to look down, reach out a hand, and help you to the next step. The people at the summit can’t even hear you yelling. They’re already there. Find the people who are a few steps ahead of you and allow them to pull you along. Allow them to walk with you. Those are the two aspects. You have to break down the sum of all of the parts, and you have to add up all of the parts individually.
- 25:40 Pam said in the chat, “Usually, my brain dump starts with all of the emotional nonsense that clutters my brain. Once I get through that, I find that I can focus on goals and ideas, and brainstorming business tasks and goals. It takes a while to work through it all.” That’s true. It does take a while. You have to figure out those steps first and ask people. Do some research.
- 26:24 Kyle: Maybe it’s all this talk about mountains, but during this I’ve thought about skiers. When you start skiing, you start on the little hills. If you can even call them that. They’re just little mounds of snow, so you can figure out how to get on the skis, stand up, slide down the slope, and maybe go over a few bumps so you can test falling over and staying balanced and all of those things. Meanwhile, there are people on these black diamond slopes that are falling off of cliffs.
- 26:58 They’re escaping avalanches. They’re very professional. They know what they’re doing. They know their craft. You see those people and you’re like, “I’m just sliding down this little slope. I need to be doing that if I ever want to compete in this industry.” The thing is, you can’t do that yet. It’s not where you’re at. You have to build up to that. Get yourself to a place where that becomes easier for you. If you try it, best case, you’re going to fall and hurt yourself. Worst case, you’re not around anymore to even try this thing. It’s really important to know where you’re at.
- 27:56 It’s like the saying, “Don’t put the cart before the horse.”
- 28:18 Cory: How do you figure out which is the cart and which is the horse? You said, “Don’t put the cart before the horse,” that idea of knowing where you’re at, the steps, which part of the mountain you’re on. How do you know? In Karen’s case, she’s saying, “I don’t know what to focus on. Maybe I need to get the logo. Maybe I need the domain name now. Maybe I need the professional-looking website, but then I have to get a scanner, a camera…” etc. How do you know what is the cart and what is the horse?
- 28:49 Kyle: This is interesting, because I view the horse as the living thing that can make the cart move. The cart is an inanimate object. It has wheels so it can roll, but it’s not going anywhere. If you’ve ever tried to push a cart up a hill, it’s very hard. You’re inevitably going to fail or have a very, very hard struggle up the hill. If you actually learn to put the cart behind you and pull it up the hill, you have an easier time. You have momentum, and you’re used to pulling this thing.
- 29:31 That’s kind of how I see the two. The cart is all of your asperations, the things you want to do, the load on your time, your brand, your energy, your finances, or whatever it is. That’s what the cart is. It’s this thing you have to pull. You have to get up the hill to successfully reach the top. If you’re trying to push it up the hill because you don’t want to take the time to learn how to harness it to yourself and pull it, you’re not going to get it up that hill easily—or at all.
- 30:10 Cory: That’s really interesting and really enlightening. That’s not how I was thinking about it at all. That’s fascinating. I like that. I have to think about that.
- 30:24 Kyle: That went in a different direction than you probably thought.
- 30:26 Cory: That totally did, but it was great. When it comes to the horse, the cart, the mountain, the business, the brand, doing all of the things, let’s say you get it all out. 1,000 tasks you need to do to get your brand to where you want it to be in five years. Let’s say there are 1,000 tasks. Here’s the thing:
- 31:00 You probably need less. As an example, within this question, she mentioned, “I need a scanner.” Guess what? I have this great app on my phone called Scanbot, and it’s fantastic. It was $4 or $5 instead of an $80 scanner, and it works just fine. Mark that off the list. Microphone? Guess what. I have a microphone right here in my phone. Great! Or, I go on real quick and I buy one off of Amazon. I get ahold of Aaron Dowd. I go to ThePodcastDude.com and I find that episode that talks about great microphone gear.
- 31:49 I buy one real quick. Guess what? There are probably other things you need less of. Can you do less, but better? Maybe you need a website, the logo, the blog, the YouTube channel, an online shop, and online courses, but maybe you could do exactly what you want to accomplish with less. Maybe some of those tasks don’t need to be there. That’s why it’s so important to get the stuff out of your head.
- 32:23 Can you do less, but better? There’s a whole design philosophy based on this. Oftentimes, we look at these things and we think, “I’ve got to get the DBA, the tax thing, I’ve got to make sure I have an HR department, I have to make sure I have this and that, I have to make sure I have a building that costs $4.5 million to rent so I can get me and my 30 employees in there and we can look really good, like we’ve got a great business.” You know what? You probably don’t need to do that.
- 32:56 Maybe you don’t need the $3,000 website solution. Maybe you don’t need to hire a designer for $10,000 to design a logo. Maybe you don’t. I don’t know. You have to figure that out for yourself. I’m saying that you may need to get a little creative and figure out if all the things you think you need to do actually need to be done. That starts with getting all of the things out of your head, because then you can figure out what the steps are and you can prioritize. What comes before what?
- 33:37 Part of that is doing research. Part of that is knowing people, being in community, talking with other business people or brand leaders, and saying, “How did you get to this point?” Not to where they are right now, but to this point. Again, these are the people that are just ahead of where you are. Not the people at the summit, but the people who are right in front of you.
Seek inspiration from those who are decades ahead of you and get advice from those who were where you are not long ago.
Understand that you can strive to be in the place where others are, but don’t try to put yourself there before you’re there.
You probably need less than you think you do to accomplish your goals.
Simplify & Think Small
- 34:02 Kyle: Can I share my own quote? This is from my Twitter, and I love how this fits in here. I said, “Simplification is not about taking things away, it’s about focusing on things that really matter and hiding what doesn’t.” Here’s what I mean by that. Let’s say that Karen really does need a scanner. For her brand, does she need some high-end scanner, or like Cory said, can she just use her phone? Sometimes we’re worried that clients, people we work with, or our peers will think, “You’re just scanning with your phone. That’s not good enough.”
- 34:49 Really, if you’re creating these high quality things and your brand is projecting this level of quality, it doesn’t matter if, behind the scenes, you’re using a smart phone to do it. What probably matters more are the things that people can see, the tangible things. If you have a terrible-looking website and you say you’re a web designer, that’s really important. If you’re projecting web design and you don’t have a big studio set up, that doesn’t matter. You can still run your business with the quality and efficiency without having some big studio space and these things you see from other people.
- 35:36 Cory: I think a lot of it also comes back to asking yourself why you’re doing the things you’re doing. Why are your goals your goals? A lot of this is very philosophical, and that’s fine. Honestly, I have a confession. The topic of this show is What to Focus On When Getting Started Feels Overwhelming, and the answer, first, isn’t simple, because we don’t know every single person’s individual journey and where they are in that journey.
- 36:13 I know a little bit about where Karen is because she asked this question, but to our audience, you listener, I don’t know where you are on your journey. I don’t know what exactly to tell you to focus on.
- 36:50 I don’t care if you’re not a list person or a task person. You have to get the stuff out. You might think, for instance, that you need a certain kind of business license to run your business. You might think you need to do that and there are all these tasks there, but maybe there’s a simpler way of doing what you want to do. Talk with people who have been there so you can figure out what you need to focus on next.
- 37:35 When things start to feel overwhelming, it’s because you’re focusing too much on the big picture. You’re focusing too much on all of the tasks, because you’re thinking about them all at the same time. You need to get them out of your head so you can think about one task at a time, one small thing at a time. Then, it’s about those quick wins. It’s, “I went and I filed for my DBA today. That was great. I can’t think about getting a business started up. I just need to think about going to the county clerk and applying for my DBA.”
- 38:10 You didn’t even get it. You just needed to apply. That was today. That’s what it ultimately comes down to. When getting started feels overwhelming, focus on a single small task. When you are feeling overwhelmed, you have to focus on a single, small task, complete that task, and then move on to another small task. When you get to the summit of the mountain, you’re not going to look back and think about each individual step.
- 38:40 You’re going to go, “Wow, here I am!” As you’re taking the steps, if you take them intentionally, you’ll know, “This is this section, this is the next section, this is the next section.” When you get to the summit, you’ll think, “Hey, I could do this again.” Coincidentally, I did climb Mount St. Helens twice, 2002 and 2004.
- 39:16 Remember, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re thinking about far too many things. You’re thinking about all of the things, so get them out of your head, onto a list, and figure out what one thing is that you need to focus on right now out of this list. Is that helpful?
You need to know yourself, know where you are in your brand deeply, and get a full list of the things you need to do out of your head.
As you continue to do tasks and you focus on those smaller things, you build up a habit, and it gets easier to accomplish the small things.
Don’t Just Follow the Crowd
- 39:37 Kyle: It’s very helpful. This is something that took me a while to figure out, too. I’m relating this to my design background, but a lot of people struggle with simplicity, with making something simple and taking it to the place it needs to be. It’s that way for many different disciplines, including building your brand. You see something that’s finalizing and finished, this polished product, and you think you have to replicate all of these pieces and all of these details and get everything in place.
- 40:22 Really, you don’t. It’s your brand that you’re building. It’s different from what someone else has. If it has it’s own mission, purpose, and story, that’s not going to have all the same details as something else. You have to break it down in small pieces and determine what details you actually need to have. What needs to be in this brand? Why do you need to project this thing? Why do you need to not project this other thing, even though everyone else in your industry is doing that?
- 40:57 Why do I, Kyle Adams, need to not go online and talk terrible about clients, even though everyone else is doing that? Look at your values and your principles and don’t fall into these traps. Don’t say, “Everyone else is doing that, so I must need to do that. I must need to get on that thing. Everyone else is getting an iPad Pro for their business, so I should probably do that also, because it’s going to put me ahead in the business game.” It may not. Some people could benefit a lot from that.
- 41:32 I know plenty of people doing illustrative work, hand-drawn things, and they benefit a lot from an iPad Pro. I could benefit from it somewhat, but it’s not high on my priority list, because most of what I do is digital work. You have to put those things down on paper, like Cory is saying, and list them out. Number one, do I even need to have them as a task? Write them out anyway. Say, for example, “Get an iPad Pro.” Put that down, even though you may be hesitant on it.
- 42:07 Focus on that. Say, “Why? Why do I need that?” Sean McCabe talks about this all the time, but keep asking the question why until you get to a final answer. You can remove that task. You don’t have to keep that task in your list, but the point is to get all of that stuff out of your head.
Break Down Tasks Even Further
- 42:32 Cory: Also, it’s amazing how much you can break down a task, even a task that has already been broken down. For instance, you say, “Get an iPad Pro.” There are some steps to getting an iPad Pro. Maybe one of those steps is, “Research the cost for an iPad Pro. Research this piece of software that may be helpful to my business and see if it’s compatible with the iPad Pro and read a couple reviews. Earn the $700 it costs to get an iPad Pro.” How do I get the money?
- 43:07 Then you start working on that. That might feel overwhelming, but when you write down all of the things individually and you focus in on one simple thing, just one, you start to knock those things out. You get the quick wins, the pieces that build up into the total.
- 43:30 Kyle: I like where we went with the resolution to this.
- 43:33 Cory: Unless someone is directly being consulted, unless someone came to me and said, “I would like to schedule a consultation at CoryDHMiller.com and figure out what’s next,” I can’t address each individual situation. I would sit there, and we would have a questionnaire. I would go through it and listen to their history and their mission. I listen to their purpose. I figure out where they are. I talk with them. I listen. I ask questions. Then, I’m able to tailor the message I’m delivering to their particular situation.
- 44:09 Because this is very broad, we have to be a little bit high-level here. We have to be, because we don’t know everybody’s unique situations. Ultimately, it’s about being self-aware and knowing how to break down tasks, how to take apart the big things. Don’t look at the mountain. Keep the mountain in mind, but you have to break it down to the smaller steps. That’s how you get away from feeling overwhelmed.
- 44:41 It’s not about saying, “Here’s the number one thing you have to focus on.” That’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about staying away from the overwhelm, because if you stay in that, that’s where you get burnt out. I know there are a lot of people listening who have been burned because they tried to do every single thing all at the same time. You can’t.
You Can Always Improve Something More
- 45:05 Kyle: I’ve done that recently. This is always going to be an issue. This is always a struggle, for everyone. At some point, you get to a place where you think, “I don’t need to break things down into small goals. I’ve got this,” and then you realize, “Yes, I do.” That happened to me recently. I was getting my speech ready for seanwes conference. I’m super excited about it. It’s my first speaking opportunity.
- 45:48 I’ve done a workshop in front of people and I’ve presented that material, but I’ve never done a full speech. It’s something I want to do. It’s part of what I want to move my brand towards, me doing more public speaking. I have all these things in my mind, like, “I want to do more public speaking, so this has to be awesome. This has to be the best speech I’ve ever done.” I haven’t done any. I have this perfectionist mindset.
- 46:19 “This has to be good. I have to have all these things right. I have to get my slides perfect. They have to look polished and super clean, but I don’t know what to put on my slides. I need to write an outline, but every time I write the outline, I think about all these things that could change about it that I’m not doing right…” That sounds overwhelming, and it was. I didn’t send my slides to Sean in the time he originally asked for them.
- 46:47 I was overwhelmed. I was completely overwhelmed with this thing. I didn’t know where to go with it. I kept having ideas and moving different directions, and finally, I had to say, “I’m going to sit down and write out everything I need to do. I’m going to write out what needs to happen.” The truth is, I can edit my slides all the way up until the presentation. They don’t have to be perfect the first time I send them. That was a struggle.
- 47:19 I had to sit down and put these steps out there: write an outline, make slides based on the outline, practice my speech over and over, put in any extra slides I need to have, do the speech, eventually get future speaking opportunities… Those weren’t the exact steps, but that was pretty close to what I ended up writing down. Then I could think, “Okay, I can do this better. I’ve got this now. I’m not feeling overwhelmed, like I’m doing this thing tomorrow and I have to have all of these things perfect.”
- 48:17 Cory: Karen is in the chat room. She’s a Community member, and she said, “I started with a really basic free theme and free hosting,” talking about her website. “I ended up moving to a paid hosting, which was recommended in the Community. I tried some themes myself and themes people recommended. I used them for a while and saw that it wasn’t working, and only today, as we’re recording this, I got Divvy, and my website is better. It still has a long way to go.”
- 48:41 She could keep improving on the website, and the more that she improves and learns, the more she’ll say, “That thing I did four days ago, I could probably do that better.” You go back to that thing and you think, “Actually, the thing I did yesterday, now with what I know, I could do everything a little bit better.” There’s always a feeling that you can do something you’ve already done slightly better, and that becomes overwhelming.
- 49:05 Sam asked earlier, “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Should you complete each task perfectly before moving on to the next, or should you work a little bit on each item and improve everything over time? For example, getting a website perfect before starting to blog/post/do social, or having a basic site to at least have somewhere to direct people?” You need to go back to your goals.
- 49:29 You have to figure out what people are doing on your website. Are they able to do that thing on the website? Can you move on from there? Maybe you can, maybe you can’t, but you have to start there. Also, remember that if you are moving forward, you can always do things that you did before better now.
- 49:53 Kyle: I was on Squarespace. My site is completely on WordPress now, a totally different system. I control it. It’s not on Squarespace anymore. The migration was not the easiest process. It wasn’t difficult, but the payoff was fine. I started with that, and that worked as my site for a while. I didn’t want to mess with all of the setup, because I wasn’t really focused on having my own platform at that point. I just wanted to have a portfolio and a contact page.
- 50:30 That worked for me for a while. Then I realized, “I want to do these other things, and these other things are important for my brand, so I need to find another solution.” I pivoted to something else. It didn’t damage my brand. It just put me in a new direction.
- 50:49 Cory: Even though you could do things that you have already done better, you have a direction of where you’re going. You’re already past that. If that thing accomplishes your goal, yes, you could do it better, but you really don’t need to. It serves its purpose. It’s doing well. I think a lot of people get caught up in the cycle.
- 51:23 You become a little bit better at one thing. Maybe you move on, and then you think, “I’ve learned this other thing, but now I have to go fix that other thing…” It’s terrible. To get out of the cycle, you have to get the small wins and keep moving forward towards the goal, towards where you want to be. That’s how you get out of that. You have to get to a place where you are okay with shipping something you know you will be able to improve later on.
- 51:57 For instance, Kyle, you could be editing your slides up to the last minute, but should you be? Will you be able to deliver your message effectively with slides that you weren’t editing up to the last minute? I believe so. I believe that you can. You can use the time you would be spending fixing those slides, improving what you’ve already done, to build something else, to move on to the next thing.
- 52:37 Kyle: In some ways, I feel like we’re repeating this over and over, but it’s hard to get your mind around this at first. I remember the first time that I felt really overwhelmed and stressed and I found out about Omnifocus. I think the same think happened to you, Cory, after I recommended it, because you were in one of those places, too. A task manager, I’ve used these things before… I thought, “I’m just going to put down what I need to do.”
- 53:17 No, actually, I needed to put down every step of this thing I was going to do. Not to keep plugging Omnifocus, but I love it so much. You can create a project. You can say, “Website,” and then you can list everything inside of that project. You can determine whether it needs to go in steps, where you have to do this thing before you do the next, or if all of them can go concurrently. Are all of them together. You can do any of them at any time.
- 53:46 It helps so much to break that down. I didn’t really believe it at first, to be honest. I thought, “That seems kind of silly. I just need to understand the overall task, and I can do all of the things. It helps so much to break it down as small as you can. Let’s say that you do sketching. Part of your process is to sharpen your pencil. As simple as that sounds, put “sharpen your pencil” on your checklist. Then you’re not saying, “I started this, but now I have a dull pencil, so I have to erase and start over.” You start going down the overwhelming train.
- 54:33 You’re back on that path of leading yourself to being overwhelmed. You’re thinking, “I have to erase it. Now, it’s going to take longer. Now I don’t have all of this done. I didn’t do it the right way. I have to start over. I’m worried about this.” It leads you back.
A lot of people get held up on the feeling that they can always do something a little bit better—as they’re doing it.
Overwhelm is cyclical—you can start getting better and then come back around to it.
As silly as it sounds, write down every single minute step of your process.
Don’t Do It Alone
- 55:22 Cory: People want really quick solutions and quick answers to figure out what they need to be doing, what they need to be doing next, and what they need to focus on, but ultimately, you need to evaluate yourself and know yourself. Evaluate your journey, your steps, and that’s a huge aspect of it. Then, remember that you shouldn’t be doing this alone. I’m not saying that you need a business partner, but trying to accomplish things other people have accomplished without asking them how they did it isn’t going to do you any good.
- 56:02 Get some people that you know, meet people, join the Community, come and interact with people who have been where you are now to get that kind of advice. Hire a business consultant. Hire a brand consultant. Whatever it takes. Maybe it’s just writing out all of the things. Maybe that’s how it is. The kind of clarity you need to get away from feeling overwhelmed is available to you.
- 56:40 Kyle: And get an accountability partner. That’s huge. You talk about what you’re doing, and if you’re overwhelmed with something, the other person can come in and say, “Okay, let’s break this into steps. What do you need to do this week to get further on this thing you’re trying to do?” It’s having someone come in for you and help you break it down, and visa versa. You’re helping each other and you’re saying, “You’re overwhelmed with this. Let’s put these things on a checklist, and I’m going to check in with you next week to see if you’ve finished these.”
You are only going to feel overwhelmed if you try to do this by yourself, so talk to people who have been where you are now.