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Turning summer dreams into September plans

Hi there! Hope you had a good summer. If you weren’t able to get away, maybe you were at least able t

Work in Progress

September 7 · Issue #48 · View online
The newsletter about work

Hi there!
Hope you had a good summer. If you weren’t able to get away, maybe you were at least able to get some distance from work for a while? I hope you got yourself some of that precious downtime that feeds new dreams.

Think bigger and fuzzier
Some time back I started writing a master plan. Well it’s not really a plan as such. It’s my if-I-think-as-big-as-I-possibly-can-then-this-is-what-I’d-really-want-to-do ideas, all poured into a Google doc. From time to time I talk with others about my plan, to try out my most ambitious ideas. 
Do I think my plan will translate directly to reality? Actually I’m certain it won’t. But it’s an enormous boost and a source of energy that helps get me closer to where I want to go. I’ve noticed how having this kind of master plan sharpens my senses, puts the things I do into a broader framework, and motivates me to take action.
In my book, I go into detail about how I make plans for my week and my year. A master plan is different – it’s far bigger and fuzzier. Here’s what I mean:
The final chapter of my book is called Think bigger. In it, I show how small steps can add up to BIG results, and how motivating it can be to keep setting your sights higher. 
Maybe you’re familiar with the idea of developing a growth mindset versus a fixed one? Thinking in terms of growth opens up the very opportunities you need in order to grow. If you think everything’s going to stay the same, then chances are you won’t make much progress toward your goal.
The master plan is a way for me to think bigger. And a way to force me to think in possibilities.
Here’s how to get started on your own master plan
Choose one of the sentence starters below and get writing.
  • Why isn’t there a solution for …? Imagine that ….
  • How awesome would it be if …. 
  • Picture for a moment that ….
  • What if ….
There’s no wrong answer here. The wilder your ideas, the better. Write until you don’t feel like writing anymore, then park your work. Your brain will keep working on the questions without you, and when inspiration hits, come back and write some more.
Follow the leads that occur to you. A master plan doesn’t have to fit a certain mold. And you don’t have to complete it in one sitting. Come back often.
Do you have mostly questions?
Write them down. 
Do you know of successful examples or failed experiments? 
Add them too. 
It’s my experience that people will help you with the examples. Share your ideas and you’ll receive suggestions you can add to your story. 
What a master plan does for me
My current mission is: Help people make better choices. Not only does a mission inspire new ideas, it’s cool to see how what I’m already doing fits in with my mission.
My book aligns perfectly with this mission, because it helps others make choices about how to use the time we have. My recent work on the Dutch coronavirus app, while totally different than the book, also fits right in, as it helps people get a handle on personal decisions that can mitigate the whole community’s COVID risk. My old company Blendle also fit, because we believed that accessible quality journalism helps people make better choices in their lives. 
And so my plan gives me energy, because I feel like I’m working on what I’m meant to do. Most of the rest of my plan is just a long list of questions, notes, and thoughts I’ve jotted down, along with links to related articles. 
One of the main aspects of my work smart method (and my book) is how I continually aim to make projects and tasks more specific, more concrete. This master plan is one big happy exception to that rule. It’s a place to dream big without having to think about the next practical step, but simply enjoying the freedom of an empty canvas. Where anything’s possible
Let me know how it goes!
I’m super enthusiastic about having a master plan and I’d love to hear about how things go as you start yours. It’s such a simple idea, but one that can have far-reaching effects.
So take those dreams of yours and let them inspire your master plan this week. Get started and follow your own lead.
Who knows where it will take you! 

Have a good week,
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