What do Big Rocks Look Like?

There’s an old story in the productivity world, about a professor with a jar and rocks and gravel and sand, and the punch line is that if you don’t put the big rocks into the jar first, there won’t be room for them later, after you add the sand and gravel.

Easy to say; we’ve all heard it.

But what do the Big Rocks look like, especially when you don’t really know what they are? “Set your goals for the quarter,” they say. “Figure out what you want to have accomplished.” Sigh. I’ve been flailing around with this for most of my life. I get by, enough, and I get stuff done, enough, and I have a body of art work and a boatload of websites and two published books to my name.

And yet, the question of Big Rocks nags. And more, why is it so hard to put the Big Rocks in first? Right now, in my life, it’s because I don’t know what they look like. I’m not sure exactly what they are. I have clues:

  • Need income, and that income ideally takes the shape of selling art rather than providing in-person services to people
  • Tons of art ideas to make, few of which will sell at a profitable dollar-per-work-hour rate
  • Know how to create an e-store, and to make products to sell. I have not found products that will sell, yet.
  • Good enough at social media, writing, and photography.
  • Have a need drive faith calling to help people solve a certain set of problems and figure out how to get on their own useful path
  • Know a lot about the limits of helping other people
  • Want a business like some of the motivational product companies, only one that’s true to my insight. I don’t know where to start.
  • Know a lot about the processes of making art and creativity
  • Have a certain amount of faith that where ever I am at this moment is just fine, and I can’t be anywhere else. I actually believe that Hell is wanting to be some place else. Try that on.

Anne Lamott said, in one or another of her books, “the more amorphous tasks–the ones that are not so crucial right at this moment but will ultimately shape your life into something worth remembering–those are harder to face.” (I think this is AL; it sounds like her; let me know if it’s not.)

What do you do when you don’t know what it is you are supposed to be doing?

  • List books that try to help. (Would do this, but you have them, you’ve read them, and you can find them on abe.com yourself.  Or read some of my reviews.)
  • List of exercises that I could do, if I actually did exercises rather than read about them. You’ve read those same books yourself. If self help exercises worked, there would be no shelf of self-help in the library, or in the bookstores.

People who appear to be doing, or did, work that I think is similar to what I want to do:

  • Laurel Burch
  • Jessica Nagy
  • Brian Andreas
  • Thomas Kinkaid, till it went south
  • Hugh McLeod
  • Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Austen Kleon
  • Anne Lamott, except she writes >> paint

I know a creator needs six things in order to create:

  1. An idea
  2. Skill
  3. Systems
  4. Materials
  5. A place to work
  6. An understanding of what “work” means and looks like*

The work feeds itself.  Sometimes you start with the big idea, and sometimes you start at the bottom and the big idea grows out of that. *This last one is huge, and constitutes a lot of what I write about on this site.

My big rocks for 2017 are The Illustrated I Ching, and the Inspirations business that doesn’t have a name yet. As I type even that, I see part of the problem: it needs a name.

To Roget:

Inspiration

  • Genius 466.8
  • Bright idea 478.9
  • Creative thought 533.2
  • Motivation 646.9
  • Encouragement 891.9

Consider also Usefulness.  Nothing.

Roget’s a wash.

But then I … look at a card taped above my desk, “I was hoping you would answer,” that was a comment received on a Quora answer last summer. Someone needed what I have to say. Boom. Done. Bought the URL. And from that, I know what to do next. I need 20 hours a week on these two projects, combined, and everything else will take care of itself. I’ve done this before; I know it works for me. Find a time tracker. Go.

(Honestly, this part of my business planning took shape just as fast as I could write this post.  However, I have been working in this arena since the beginning of the year, pretty much, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the year.  Inspirations happen, and seeds grow better in prepared fields.  This field had been prepared.)

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