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How Do We Take Action?

Welcome back to Jumpstarting Open Projects! This is week 3 of 4 (Check out weeks 1 and 2). Follow along as OPA leads a group of workshop participants through the full production cycle of a project that will help them share their knowledge with the world. You can do an open project, too!

Week 3: Figuring Out What Works for You

What puts you in a flow state? What blocks the way? How do you feel in these circumstances? Participants reflected on projects they’d tackled in the past. Some patterns emerged around aspects that make it easier and harder to move forward.

It’s easy to take action when…

  • the inner voice isn’t a screaming critic but a quiet helper; there’s no expectation of perfection—just a goal of starting
  • the task is specific and doable
  • there’s a focus on process, not outcome
  • confidence and motivation dominate
  • the work seems to matter

In these cases, people said they feel relief. Hope. Momentum. Interest. Engagement. Anticipation for the next action item. Curiosity. Reduced anxiety. Enthusiasm. Alignment with purpose. Goosebumps. A sense of progress.

One participant said they liked the excitement of that “first dive-in” stage of a research project, where you’re doing the initial search in the databases, gathering materials, etc. Versus the editing stage. Speaking of which—

It’s hard to take action when…

  • the inner critic is screaming
  • it’s unclear what the next step is
  • there’s a time crunch
  • there’s zero motivation to make good on a commitment
  • the work doesn’t seem to matter

Such situations make people feel heavy. Blocked. Huge resistance. Imposter syndrome. Like they’re spinning their wheels. Overwhelmed and overloaded. “Like time is running out always.”

Other emotions that surface when folks struggle to take action: Shame. Fear. Anxiety. Dread. Grumpiness. Anger. Irritation. Tiredness. Boredom. Depression. Regret.

During the group discussion, an insight emerged that could make it a little easier to tap some self-compassion. While we might feel like a sloth, fear could be underneath it all. Maybe that resonates with you?

Visions of the Most Supportive Environment

Some circumstances are out of your control. But to the extent you can tweak your approach or put something in place to make it more likely you’ll accomplish things… what would that look like?

Workshop attendees thought about what would set them up for success. Here are some ideas that surfaced:

  • A sense of community: It feels important to have people to check in with, whether it’s a mastermind group, co-writers, co-working and accountability buddies, teams—“people who give a shit,” who can listen to ideas or sticking points and provide honest feedback
  • Purpose, direction, and alignment
  • Incentives to stay motivated
  • Self-compassion

Folks also talked about the power of knowing what they want and honoring the need/desire for people to care what they’re making.

What’s ideal for you when it comes to tools, support, and taking action?

Tips and Strategies

It’s go time. What do you need to do? What do you need to make that happen?

If you’re like the workshop attendees, maybe it’s setting up a meeting with that accountability person. Or sending emails.

Maybe it’s about picking a time or project management system or going back to one that’s worked for you before. Maybe it’s about creating a new system to meet the particular demands of this thing you’re doing and the realities of this current moment. Maybe it’s about being real: What works for you and what doesn’t?

Maybe it’s not about visible action, but actually pausing to check in with yourself and finding motivation.

What would help you move forward? Participants talked in practical terms about

For writing projects, if you’re stuck or under a time constraint, one participant recommended the “IKEA Hacker” method, so named because you get all the components laid out in advance and “it’s very modular and function-oriented”:

  • ID your purpose and audience
  • use this info to direct your initial outline
  • focus on drafting one chunk at at time, keeping purpose/audience top-of-mind
  • play around with the order of your sections; add more if needed
  • revise: “I don’t let myself perfect a paragraph or fall in love with my words until the final stage.”

The Challenge: DO IT!

Share in the comments what you’re doing this week along with any tips and resources for making progress, whatever that looks like.

Remember: It’s okay if your project changes, goes faster or slower than you planned, or otherwise surprises you.

Up Next: How Do We Finish?

Photo credit: Kid Circus @kidcircus via Unsplash