How to do Great Work | UYGW15

Have you ever been listening to this podcast and thought “Yeah, OK, Great Work sounds, well, Great, but HOW? How do I actually get over my drama? How can I find the time to make progress on my Great Work? In this episode, we are going deep in the weeds and talking about exact tactics (#exactics).

Join me as we discuss:

  • How to do Great Work in the weeks, days and moments of our lives.
  • How to avoid feeling like every idea you have is either too small to make a difference, or so large it’s paralyzing.
  • How to rebuild trust with yourself, so that will believe yourself when you set goals.

This week’s episode includes an excerpt from my book! If you loved what you heard, and want to hear it again—but this time with your eyes!—pre-order your copy today!

Link to pre-order Great Work

Link to diagram

Link to Great Work Journal Page

For more information about the Unleashing YOUR Great Work podcast or to learn more about Dr. Amanda Crowell, check out my website: amandacrowell.com

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Transcript
Dr Amanda Crowell:

Hey, it's Amanda, the host of unleashing

Dr Amanda Crowell:

your great work. I am excited to announce today that the great

Dr Amanda Crowell:

work journals are now available on Amazon. This is the next

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exciting iteration of the aligned time journal. And I'm

Dr Amanda Crowell:

really excited to bring them into the great work family. If

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you've ever wondered how to do great work, and whether the

Dr Amanda Crowell:

journals can help you stay tuned, I'm sharing all of that

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insight on today's episode. Welcome to unleashing your great

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work, a podcast about doing the work that matters the most to

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you. I'm your host, Dr. Amanda curl, a cognitive psychologist,

Dr Amanda Crowell:

speaker, coach, and the creator of the aligned time journals.

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Every week on this podcast, we are asking the big questions.

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What is great work? And why does it matter so much to us? What

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does it take to do more of your great work without sacrificing

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everything else? And how does the world change when more

Dr Amanda Crowell:

people are doing more of the work that matters the most to

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them? Whether your great work is building your own small

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business, or managing a remote team at a multinational company,

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you'll find insight and answers here. Anna is a woman on a

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mission. At least that's how she feels when she's talking about

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her dream of starting a nonprofit organization that

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provides art therapy for veterans. She began working at

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the VA as a therapy provider in her late 20s. And she discovered

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how powerful expressive art therapy was. When it was used by

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veterans healing from the shock and trauma of war. It connects

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them back to a part of themselves that got suppressed

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during active duty. It's like watching a whole new version of

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themselves emerge from our work together. When our therapy

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works, it works. She said while Anna continued to work at the VA

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full time, she wanted to lay groundwork for her nonprofit.

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And his vision for her great work is rock solid. She has no

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problem getting excited about the opportunities that she could

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create for veterans. And for herself. What I really want is

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to make art therapy free for veterans, any veteran no matter

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where or when they did their service should be able to

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explore that experience through art. And I went to have an art

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gallery full of artwork from veterans. Because I think if

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people see the art, they'll more deeply understand the sacrifices

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our soldiers are making. And I would love to shape the national

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conversation about war, honor service, and what it means to

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support our veterans when they come home. Yet, despite her

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outright enthusiasm and deep content knowledge, Anna was not

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making progress on her dream. It's reached the point where I'm

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almost embarrassed to talk about it with my family and friends.

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They'll ask me how it's going and I just shrink. I don't know

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what my problem is. She continued. I know I'm a hard

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worker, I work all the time. And I get so excited by the idea of

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creating my nonprofit. Why have I done so little? Every now and

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then I searched the internet looking for names of veterans

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groups to connect with. But that's it. That's everything

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I've done in a year. This is very common. We hit on our great

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idea, create a powerful vision, get super excited, and then

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nothing really happens. Everything that comes to mind

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either feels too small to make a difference or so large, it's

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paralyzing. It's no wonder that we give up and decide to think

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about it tomorrow. Confusing vision with goals is one of the

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most common sources of frustration when people are

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trying to make progress on their great work. That confusion is

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frustrating by its nature. Let's just say that Anna has an hour

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to work on her nonprofit after a long day providing therapy at

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the VA. How could she use one hour to shape the national

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conversation? She can't. At the core of a lot of this

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frustration is a lack of clarity about ideas. A vision is an

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idea. And so as a goal, but so as a task and a to do. And if

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you're anything like Anna or me or 98% of my clients, you are

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full of ideas. Ideas come in the shower, while you're out walking

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the dog doing morning pages are simply out of nowhere. And this

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is before we even get to the goals and tasks and to dues that

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come rolling out of meetings and conversations, emails. Some of

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these ideas will be small on the level of maybe Matt could help

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me with my budget, and some will be a lot larger like I want to

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write a best selling book. These are clearly not the same kind of

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ideas. Right.

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I like to categorize ideas into five different levels. Now I

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like to visualize them as an upside down Triangle, at the

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very top of the upside down triangle, the really broad part

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is your vision. This is what we hope to achieve someday.

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Underneath that is an understanding of what we're able

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to do in the next year or two, which I call an accessible

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aspiration. That's still not what you're working on, on the

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regular. Instead, level three, one level down from that are the

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90 day goals, I like to set 90 Day goals to which we are

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actively striving, of course, they're aligned to your

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accessible aspiration, which is in turn aligned to your vision.

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But we're not working on the aspiration, we're not working on

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the vision, we're working on the goal. And we know that if we

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work on it for weeks, not years, but weeks, we can accomplish it.

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Part of that is the weekly task. What can I do this week to get a

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little bit more to get a little closer to my goal. And then what

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I'm doing today, the to do is the tiny tip of the upside down

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triangle. This is what this is the small thing that I'm going

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to do today, that gets me closer to my task this week gets me

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closer to my 90 Day goal, which in turn gets me closer to my

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aspiration which gets me closer to my vision, it's helpful to

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understand how your ideas fit into the structure, because the

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best way to align your time to an idea depends on the level. If

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your idea is something you can do today, like ask Matt for

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help, then the best thing you can do is put it on a to do list

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or in the daily pages of your great work journal, and then do

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it. If your idea is on the level of a catalyzing vision like and

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is world changing nonprofit, then you can do two things.

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First, you want to activate it, which is so that you get super

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excited and invigorated and imagine how it feels and think

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about it, how it looks and you know really excited about it.

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And then once you've done that and created that space, then you

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need to translate that vision down into the lower levels of

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the upside down triangle so that you can take concrete action. So

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the accessible aspiration. So for Anna to move out of

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paralysis and into action, the first thing she needed to do was

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to translate that enormous vision, that enormous powerful

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vision into an accessible aspiration. So accessible

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aspirations are aptly named, they have to feel both

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accessible, and doable, but also kind of far away. They will take

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multiple 90 Day goals, cycles, and a lot of figuring out unlike

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a vision, which has a nebulous someday feeling accessible

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aspirations feel tied to your real calendar, usually, I think

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of these ideas as on tap for the next year or two. And I realize

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that if she was going to build a successful nonprofit, then she

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needed to conquer fundraising. So she decided to start by

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trying to fund a pilot program and a year or so this aspiration

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begins to put Anna into the flow of concrete work, it helps her

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to realize that she's going to need to make connections, hone

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her pitch, find opportunities to collaborate. But even an

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accessible aspiration can be overwhelming when you try to

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decide what to do and what not to do in the next three months.

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For this, we have to head down to 90 day goals. So why would we

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set 90 Day goals. And you know, you may have noticed that 90 Day

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goals are sort of all the rage. And if you're a somewhat of a

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rebel like me, you probably want to know why you would set a 90

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day goal before you blindly follow along. So I mean, first

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let's acknowledge that 90 Day goals are somewhat arbitrary.

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You could set a 10 week goal, and that would be fine. Or a

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four month goal, which is what I actually recommend for people

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who are still in school, if you're tied to a semester, then

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you should go with the semester. But nonetheless, I do like 90

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Day goals because they give us four chances a year to make

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things happen. And with four cycles, we really can do a lot.

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I also like it, because if you follow the fiscal quarters of

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the year, starting your goals in January, April, July and

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October, then it can help you make you feel like you're part

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of something bigger, you can start saying things like oh,

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these are my q2 goals and bemoan the end of the quarter along

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with like all the other business people. And this is a very

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powerful piece of identity building, if part of your great

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work is building a business. So you can leverage that with 90

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Day goals. Also, with 90 Day goals, you can roughly follow

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the seasons. And if you live in a seasonal place, then your life

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probably feels significantly different in January than it

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does in July. And I'm not making the claim that January or July

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is more productive, because that depends on you and the weather

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in your part of the world. But instead I'm noting that some

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goals will feel more appropriate and accessible based on the time

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of the year that you set them in 90 day goals allow for that.

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Also, we can kind of generally predict what we'll be doing in

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the next 90 days in a way that we can't when we look much

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further into the future For example, could you have dinner

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with a friend on the second Tuesday and three months? Okay,

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answer that same question. Could you have dinner with a friend on

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the second Tuesday of the month in five months? Really go to

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your calendar and try to answer that question. Do you notice the

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difference? In 90 days, you could generally say, probably or

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Probably not, because I know what my life is going to be

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like, in five months, it starts to feel like yeah, maybe there's

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no way to know just see if that's true for you. Finally,

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the 90 day time frame is long enough that you will definitely

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want to quit, but you won't, at least not until your 90 days are

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up. And part of this is that we are reestablishing trust with

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ourselves that we're going to stay with our goals long enough

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to accomplish something significant. And you can't re

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establish that trust with a goal so short that you never want to

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quit. Okay, so how to pick your goals. Now, I think it's

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important to follow the three s goal structure in part because

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taking on more than three goals related to great work at any one

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time can make most people feel overwhelmed and stretched in

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every direction. And of those three goals, only one of them is

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a stretch goal. The other two goals are a support goal, and a

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sanity goal, which together provide a solid foundation from

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which to achieve your stretch goal. Your stretch goal is the

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beating heart of your great work. It usually requires

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research help seeking the learning of new skills and a

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whole lot of failure. Your stretch goal will also force you

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to overcome hurry, worry, guilt overwhelmed hustle and

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perfectionism. This is the piece you've chosen to get your hands

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dirty with, you know, you'll make mistakes. And you're

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confident that on the other side of those mistakes is victorious,

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glorious progress. In short, stretch goals require the most

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willpower. Willpower is our ability to focus on things when

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we don't want to and to do complex tasks when we want to do

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easy things instead. Willpower is a limited resource in humans

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because it's housed in the newest part of our brain, the

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prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible

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for helping us make hard decisions, focus on difficult

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tasks and suppress our urge to quit.

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The interesting thing about your prefrontal cortex is that it

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gets tired. Other parts of your brain do not get tired. Your

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limbic system, for example, doesn't ever get tired of

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helping you breathe. But the pre for the prefrontal cortex on the

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other hand does run out of juice. Just think about it. By

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the end of the day, you are much more likely to eat a whole box

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of cookies yell at one of the lucky people you live with and

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cry right here also much more likely to put off making hard

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decisions avoid new and novel problems like the plague. This

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is what it looks like when your prefrontal cortex has lost its

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mojo. And this is why I recommend only having one

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stretch goal. These taxing goals drain our limited willpower and

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make us tired. Great work is worth the drain, obviously, but

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doing too many difficult projects at once leads to

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burnout, unhappiness and sacrifice. That's against the

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rules. One stretch goals enough. Anna decided that in the next 90

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days she would have at least 12 conversations with fundraisers,

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executive directors and program leaders at veteran focus

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nonprofits. That's roughly one conversation a week she called

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it her listening tour because she didn't want the pressure of

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pretending to be an expert. The next goal and the three s goal

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structure is the support goal. The support goal is designed to

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make your stretch goal easier, more accomplishable and in some

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cases possible. A support goal might provide the stability in a

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related area or address an issue that tends to arise in

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convenient times. Examples might include tracking your finances

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better posting on social media more regularly if building a

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social platform for your business important or automating

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your calendar, scheduling and reminders. Support goals are

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often though not always goals that focus on process instead of

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projects. While stretch goals often have a clear

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accomplishment associated with them. Support goals often

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focused on getting better at something. Process goals are

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critical. Because these habits form the foundation of our lives

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but they can feel nebulous. You can always get better sleep

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because you are always going to need sleep and your sleep is

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never perfect. This can make process goals feel as satisfying

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because they are never done. So it helps to give your process

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goal a clear finish line for the sake of your 90 day goal.

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Instead of get better sleep for example, choose go to bed by

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10pm at least four nights a week. Instead of keep better

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records choose file all claims within two weeks for example.

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Anna's 90 Day support goal was to network more regularly. She

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was regularly invited to conferences and events both at

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the VA and in the larger DC region but she was so tired from

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work that she skipped most of them. Her support goal then was

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to change her ways and attend to More of these opportunities to

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network, her support goal intersected with her stretch

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goal directly. If I go to one of these networking events at least

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every two weeks, I should meet enough people to find the 12

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conversations for my listening tour. The final goal in the

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three SQL structure is the sanity goal. This goal focuses

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on something that makes you feel grounded, resourced, and

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resilient. Resilience is the ability to bounce back, recover

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from disappointment and continue despite failure. It's related to

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willpower in the sense that we're more resilient earlier in

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the day. And it's related to vision because vision creates

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the motivation that keeps us invested when things get hard.

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The nature of great work requires you to learn new

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things, put yourself out into the world, to things that

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activate all the drama, and drain your willpower. The sanity

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goal is critical to the success of your stretch and support

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goals, because it keeps you resilient enough to stay at it

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when things get hard. As you consider your sanity goal,

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please make sure that you're choosing something that would

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make you feel good even before you accomplish it. For example,

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if you choose going to yoga three times a week, make sure

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that going to yoga even just once feels great. The point of

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this goal is to give you the gift of groundedness support and

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strength right away. And all along the way. You might have

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already guessed Anna sanity goal, based on her support goal,

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she was staying up late and getting up early trying to keep

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everything going her sanity goal then was to be better rested. So

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she could have the energy to make good connections while she

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was networking. Now, once you've officially set your 90 day

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goals, it's time to align your actual time to those goals. This

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is where the rubber hits the road. It's one thing to have a

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lot of understanding about our great work clear language to

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describe our goals, and our heart full of good intentions.

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But if we don't do something differently, and the hours and

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the minutes of our weeks and days, we will not make any

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progress. We must align the way we spend our time to our goals,

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tasks and to dues. So how do we do that? Well, in your great

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work journal, at the beginning of each week, you'll review your

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90 day goal and ask how can I get a little closer to my goals

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this week. This exercise will result in three weekly tasks.

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Each of these tasks are concrete and substantive steps forward

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and are likely to take some effort over a few days. In the

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first week, one of the weekly tasks and a set for herself was

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to reach out to a contact she had made at a conference. He was

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quote someone high up at the Wounded Warrior Project. And she

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planned to write him an email. When she set up her weekly task

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in the great work journal,

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she was prompted to consider what's likely to get in your

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way. She realized that she wasn't sure what his name was,

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nor was she sure where to find his email. And honestly, she

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wasn't as up to date on the Wounded Warrior Project as she

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probably should be. Now under normal circumstances, people do

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not ask themselves these questions. Instead, they state

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the task in its simplest form and hope for the best. For

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example, annamite, right, I'll email my contact at Wounded

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Warrior. And then she'll either does nothing, or she buys a

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month long ticket for the struggle bus. Here's how that

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could look without acknowledging it directly. And it feels weird

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that she can't remember her contacts name. She questions

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whether it's even okay to connect with someone she hasn't

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kept up with. Of course, that weirdness falls apart when you

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look at it directly. She could just find his name, and then

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research his organization. And he wouldn't expect her to be an

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expert on him anyway. In fact, wouldn't it be kind of weird if

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she knew every detail of his work life when he'd only met her

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once at a conference? Solutions are often very simple as my

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point. And yet these unexamined difficulties cause a lot of

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shame and a lot of delay when we set a goal and then pursue it

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with a dogmatic commitment to positive thinking. We're shocked

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and dismayed when the inevitable setbacks, mistakes and

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roadblocks pop up. If instead, we set a goal and plan for the

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setbacks, then we get the best of both worlds. Mental

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contrasting is built into every level of the great work

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journals. We do it when setting goals when setting weekly tasks.

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And when setting daily to dues and Anna's case because she

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didn't expect to email her contact in 15 minutes, she was

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ready to do some digging. Even weekly tasks can be composed of

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mostly good intentions, the real magic happens today. Right now.

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The daily pages of the journal will prompt you. Given what

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you've decided to do this week. What can you do today to get a

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little closer? I'm sure that question sounds familiar. As

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it's almost the same question that you asked in the weekly

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task that's on purpose, I find that the idea of getting a

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little closer is very accessible. Most people realize

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that while they can't do it all today, they can get a little

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closer. The same structure I described for setting weekly

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tasks governs daily to dues in the great work journal as well.

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And each of the daily pages of the great work journal you will

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be asked, What can I do to get a little closer today? What's

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likely to get in my way? And how will I get around it? Now

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remember, Anna knows she's going to need to ramp up to writing

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that email. So her phone is related to do wasn't write an

Dr Amanda Crowell:

email to the Wounded Warrior guy. Instead, it was do a

Dr Amanda Crowell:

forensic investigation of my email and notes from the

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conference to figure out that guy's name and email. What's

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likely to get in her way? I have a tendency to get impatient. She

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says, How will she get around that? Well, I decided to keep at

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it for two whole hours. And if I still couldn't find it, I would

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start emailing other people from the conference to ask them.

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When she reported back, she said, it only took an hour to

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find it. It turned out that he was copied on an email from

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someone else, I can do some research on Wounded Warrior

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tomorrow, write the email the next day, it's happening. She

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was so excited. Consider how differently it would have felt

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if every setback was a surprise. I imagined that her report back

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would be more like I tried to write the email, but I couldn't

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find his email address anywhere. Finally, an hour later, I found

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it copied on an unrelated email chain. And I was like, Finally,

Dr Amanda Crowell:

now I can write the email. And then I realized I don't know

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enough about their work. So I got delayed again, maybe later

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this week, I'll finally get this email out. The email is going to

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be done on the same day in both scenarios, but the experience of

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it, and by association, the likelihood that the project

Dr Amanda Crowell:

makes progress is entirely different. It turns out when you

Dr Amanda Crowell:

manage your expectations, when you're expected to have

Dr Amanda Crowell:

roadblocks, and you know, it's going to take a while to get

Dr Amanda Crowell:

around them. You make much more progress on your great work. And

Dr Amanda Crowell:

the thing about great work is that great work generates more

Dr Amanda Crowell:

great work. Now Anna's email to her connection at Wounded

Dr Amanda Crowell:

Warrior earned her virtual coffee. During their

Dr Amanda Crowell:

conversation. Her contact suggested she reached out to

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someone he knew at Operation second chance, her new friend

Dr Amanda Crowell:

and operation Second Chance introduced her to someone she

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didn't know and another division at the VA. And around six months

Dr Amanda Crowell:

later, her new colleague at the VA offered Anna a promotion to

Dr Amanda Crowell:

move into an integrative health clinic that includes art therapy

Dr Amanda Crowell:

among its offerings. And I was intrigued surprised and not at

Dr Amanda Crowell:

all sure what to do. If she took the new role, her dream of

Dr Amanda Crowell:

starting her own nonprofit would be delayed at best and derailed

Dr Amanda Crowell:

at worst. But the new role involves learning fundraising,

Dr Amanda Crowell:

and her new co workers were passionate and interesting

Dr Amanda Crowell:

practitioners who saw the benefits of alternative

Dr Amanda Crowell:

treatment just like she did, what to do. Listen, these are

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good problems to have. And they are without a doubt the kinds of

Dr Amanda Crowell:

problems you encounter when you get into the flow of your great

Dr Amanda Crowell:

work. It's messy, exciting, and nonlinear, involving unexpected

Dr Amanda Crowell:

opportunities and chances to change direction. In fact, part

Dr Amanda Crowell:

of the fun is the unpredictable and emerging nature of it. That

Dr Amanda Crowell:

didn't make any decision any easier. But it was gratifying to

Dr Amanda Crowell:

know that whichever choice she made, she would still be doing

Dr Amanda Crowell:

her great work. Anna opted to take the role in the Integrative

Dr Amanda Crowell:

Health Clinic at the VA. And she's glad she did. She says

Dr Amanda Crowell:

I've learned a lot about fundraising. And I've had my

Dr Amanda Crowell:

eyes open to a lot of other therapies like acupuncture and

Dr Amanda Crowell:

hypnosis that are also really powerful for veterans. When I do

Dr Amanda Crowell:

start my nonprofit, which I'm still planning to do, I think it

Dr Amanda Crowell:

will be even better. This is how it feels to do great work. You

Dr Amanda Crowell:

have a vision, you realize you can get a little closer in the

Dr Amanda Crowell:

next year, you realize you can get a little closer in the next

Dr Amanda Crowell:

90 days, you realize you can get a little closer this week. And

Dr Amanda Crowell:

now you know what to do today. One day after another. As you

Dr Amanda Crowell:

get a little closer and a little closer, you will be shocked to

Dr Amanda Crowell:

discover that you are now knee deep in your great work. The

Dr Amanda Crowell:

great work journal can help you the great work journals can help

Dr Amanda Crowell:

you on the one hand, they give you a place to document your

Dr Amanda Crowell:

great work. So if you ever start to feel like I'm working and

Dr Amanda Crowell:

working and working and nothing is happening, you can look back

Dr Amanda Crowell:

through the pages of your great work journal. And you'll see

Dr Amanda Crowell:

that that's not true. On the other hand, it reminds you of

Dr Amanda Crowell:

how great work unfolds in the real world. It will ask you to

Dr Amanda Crowell:

plan your way around mistakes. It will prompt you to remember

Dr Amanda Crowell:

your great memories and what you're grateful for. And over

Dr Amanda Crowell:

time you'll discover as you chip away at your great work every

Dr Amanda Crowell:

day that you have unleashed it out into the world where it

Dr Amanda Crowell:

belongs. Today's episode is an excerpt from my book, great

Dr Amanda Crowell:

work, do what matters most without sacrificing everything

Dr Amanda Crowell:

else which is releasing on June 7. If you've enjoyed what you

Dr Amanda Crowell:

heard, and you want to hear it again, but this time with your

Dr Amanda Crowell:

eyes. preorder a copy today. The link is in the show notes


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