There are 11 weeks left in the year.

In 80 days—when you have that holy shit, 2020 is over moment—you’ve got a few options.

You can reflect on the way you spent your previous year on earth with disgust and disappointment.

You can parrot the nonsense you keep seeing on social media: Worst year ever. Can I just forget 2020? I want 2019 back. Everything is fucked. (And not in the hopeful, Mark Manson-esque kinda way).

Or you can take a good hard look at the last 12 months and realize, despite what’s been happening, you kicked some serious ass. You thrived. You accomplished your goals. You made adversity your bitch.

It’s true, 11 weeks ain’t much.

On one hand, it’s enough to slap you upside the head, a harsh reminder you’re running out of time.

It puts things in perspective.

But it’s also just enough time to get back on track, develop new habits, start the project you’ve been putting off, further your mission, to accomplish what you set out to do in January.

So, if you want to end the year on a positive note, here’s my recommendation.

How to End the Year on a Positive Note

First, create some momentum by celebrating your wins. This is important. Please don’t skip it.

Right now—really, right now—put down your phone or step away from the computer, and write down 5 – 10 things you’ve made happen this year. 

Don’t qualify them. Big, small, whatever. A win’s a win. All that matters is the fact you did it.

Can I count on you not to skip that part?

Good. Now that you’ve got some momentum, I want you to commit to 11 weeks of simplicity.

You know that awful feeling you sometimes get when you’re operating in if-I-just-work-a-little-harder-this-will-be-a-success mode?

It happens when you’re creating something you care about deeply, you’re working your little booty off to show it to the world, and you kinda, sorta start to force it. And then, suddenly—you’re stuck.

Every single time I get in that mode, it not only sucks up every ounce of creativity in my body but it also stops my productivity right in its tracks.

It feels like shit. And it gets even more painful when I don’t understand why I’m not making progress.

How to Get Unstuck

There’s a question I always refer back to when I get in that situation. It’s from my forever man crush, Tim Ferriss. 

What would this look like if it were easy?

I love this question because it can be interpreted in so many ways. 

Personally, it means I need to go back to what works best: systems. 

It’s easy because I don’t have to figure out a new way to get where I want to be. It’s easy because I don’t have to force myself to come up with new ways of making things happen. 

I simply do what worked last time.

These are the things I always come back to when I feel stuck because I know they’ll get me unstuck.

They’re lessons birthed entirely from struggle, frustration, and failure. My hope is that sharing them will help you avoid all those uncomfortable feelings so you can move your work forward.

This Is What It Looks Like When It’s Easy

Done beats perfect.

This is, hands down, the skill I’ve most improved recently. Seth Godin calls it ‘shipping.’ In fact, it’s the subject of his newest book The Practice (Nov 3). Call it whatever you want; I prefer ‘publishing.’ And c’mon, seriously… how does this guy publish so—oh, right…

Never, ever write it down later.

When you have a good idea (or at least an idea you think is good) make note of it. Whether you go the crayon to napkin route, record a voice note on your phone, jot it down on a whiteboard, it doesn’t matter. My favorite tool for this is Evernote (which just got an awesome update for desktop, btw). Put it somewhere—anywhere—because you will forget.

Eat a sandwich.

But only if sandwiches are your thing, of course. What I really mean is, take a break. Do something completely unrelated to what you’re working on and give it your full attention. Mindful action creates space for creative thinking. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for how to take mindful, productive breaks, here are 71 of them.

Compartmentalize your work (and don’t stop to make things pretty).

When I remove my obsessive need to make things look all neat and organized, I’m able to fill up the idea bucket much quicker. This 3-step system has helped me tremendously because it allows me to create without the pressure of having to decide about what’s going to happen next. Instead, I can look at things and wonder ‘where can I go with this?’ or WTF was I thinking, laugh at myself, and move on. By the way, even though the system is for writers, you can apply it to any creative pursuit.

Do one thing.

When all else fails, give yourself permission to gently push everything but one task to tomorrow. Focus on one thing for the rest of the day and do it as best you can.

And Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think?

The irony here is that each one of these lessons could be elaborated much further, but it would’ve been kind of stupid to write about simplicity, then go in-depth on each point I wanted to make. In fact, this email started with twenty-two lessons!

That said, it’s not an opportunity lost.

Which of these lessons would you like to hear more about? 

Send me a quick reply. I’d love to dive into any of these topics further in a blog post.

In the meantime, whether you’re trying to figure out your next move, how to push your project forward, how to reconnect with your purpose, or you need to get the creative juices flowing, ask yourself:

What would this look like if it were easy?

And for the next 80 days, give yourself permission to simplify your work. 

You’re going to be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Until next time.

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