The power of what + how.

Here’s the formula that works for me, and that might work for you, too: Commit, then figure it out.

Or, put another way: First what, then how.

What = a decision

How = a process

What – the decision, the goal, the desired end result – is firm. How – the process of getting to that firm goal, desire, or result – evolves, changes, and adapts.

What I’ve found, from my personal experience and from working with colleagues over the years, is that the pressure to jump straight to HOW, before there’s a clear WHAT, can feel overwhelming. There is often great urgency to produce, move, act, dig in (etc.) and less energy devoted to getting clarity that will guide that activity.

Jumping into the process before reaching a clear decision can take you far off course (meaning, away from your goal). The longer you keep busy in the “how” without having a clear “what,” the farther off course you’ll be.

That’s the short version of the idea behind this course I’ve been building, Your First 100 Days, that I’m sharing here first, during the month of January.

The first two modules, Investigate & Imagine, are dedicated to exploring the “what,” providing clarity and insight into your heart’s desires, the power that drives moving toward goals.

I promise this approach might work for you, if you’ll give it an honest try.

(New to this series? Welcome! Here’s the scoop: I’m giving followers here a free walk-through of a course called “Your First 100 Days,” a structured approach to help turn ideas into action. The first post in this series is here.)

Yesterday I offered a vision board exercise (materials are in this post, too, to make it easy to access them). If you haven’t already printed the Your First 100 Days workbook, then you can print just the Vision section (file below). You’ll need all 15 pages for the exercise. (Yes, as suggested, I’m exploring other ways of providing this lesson and lesson materials without using so much paper, and I’m specifically looking at creating a Canva template I can share.)

The work is to create a picture – a tangible, visual representation – of what you want for yourself in your life, your work, your relationships, your growth, or whatever else is important to you. Just you. Not someone else’s vision for you; your vision.

Your vision is your what (and possibly also your why, but won’t dwell on that yet).

Putting images on a piece of paper (or poster board, or in a journal) is a decision, too.

First what, then how.

Commit, then figure it out.

Tomorrow, a recap of the work so far and a preview of next week’s module.

And to make things easy, I’m repeating the vision board steps here, so you won’t have to go hunting them down:

Vision Exercise

This vision board exercise is standard 8 1/2 x 11 size, and all of the materials for the work are in the workbook, so you won’t need to gather magazines or other printed papers. While using only the materials in the workbook may seem limiting in a restrictive way, the idea is that you’re more likely to do this work if doing it doesn’t require additional work.

You’ll need scissors, glue (or other adhesive), the printed sheets, a clear work surface, and 30-60 minutes.

Look through the pages of images and cut out (or tear out, if you like that effect) what you connect with. Don’t overthink this part. Just identify and cut out. You don’t have to use whole images. You might – just as an example – cut a colored square or circle from another, larger image.

After you’ve made a first pass through the images and selected some to start with, review the work you’ve done so far. In other words, ground yourself in your own self-assessment. Your vision board (or page) will be a visual representation of your 100 Wants, your Gratitude Snapshot, and the keywords from Monday’s exercise.

Using the sheet labeled “VISION” (or just a blank sheet), begin assembling your college. If it’s helpful to you, print a second copy of the Vision words sheet (from Monday’s post) and simply cut/paste images into the category blocks. Worried about your collage skills? Don’t be. No one will see this sheet unless you choose to share it. It’s yours and yours alone. What’s important is that it represent what’s in your mind, your imagination. You’ll use this sheet in future work.

Want to make more than one sheet? Terrific; do it. Want to use a larger sheet/board? Awesome. Want to use supplemental materials? This is your work. The point is to do it, to get it done without overthinking it. See it, perhaps, as one step in a multi-step process, because that’s what it is.

To recap:

  • Print the materials
  • Make a single-page collage using images (letters, words) from the printed sheets

Next week we’ll turn toward goals. This weekend I’ll have a cooking lesson, with video.

See you soon.