Craft a successful business. Do what matters. Get the free resources:

map-making

The power of choosing (and quilts)

This week, as we've been map making in the Starship, I've been thinking about my own goals, and my investment into the belief that This Is What Works.

 

Even though I'm always exhorting you find what works for you. Even though I'm always reminding you that what works for someone might not work for you…there a few things that I stand by as Good For Just About Everyone. Map-Making is one of them. Not because you need to grow. Not because you need to do more.

But simply because, this is what's bumming you out.

When you feel like you're not going anywhere, when you feel like you “never finish anything” (a phrase I hear a lot!), the problem usually can be boiled down to one thing: you don't have a direction. All of your dreams and hopes and ideas live in the puffy land of One Day. And so you beat yourself up, you feel bad, you don't think you know/act/ARE enough.

And, darling, that's just not true.

 

You are enough. Brave enough to follow your dream. Strong enough to do the hard work. Smart enough to make the big decisions.

 

The reason you're stuck is because you don't know which way to turn. So, by making a map, you pick a direction. You just pick one. ANY direction is fine as long as you start making movement towards it. The Map doesn't care what your destination is. The power is in CHOOSING. Choosing to focus yourself. Choosing a path. Choosing to figure out what will get you there. Choosing to take action. Choosing to honor your dream by making it do-able.

 

Once you get in the habit if taking consistent action toward your hopes, you might not need a map, you might be able to wake up each day and just do what you need to do, without creating some big plan.

Then again, you might be the kind of person (like me!) who likes to have milestones to reach, who likes to set crazy challenges to test what you're capable of.

And that brings us to what I really planned to write about today – my crazy quilt goal. Last March I decided to try to finish 6 quilts in 2013. I joined the Finish-a-long to keep me on track. Last quarter I hoped to finish two..but I only completed one. This quarter I want to finish the two I've started and get as far as possible on a brand new quilt.

Here's the two I've got so far:

Red trip

(You can read more details here)

I am so close to being done! I just have 8-10 short hand-quilting rows left! I'll share all the details when it's done!

 
 

Blooms & Dots

This is another collaboration with my mom. We each picked 9 fabrics, cut them in strips, and are piecing all 18 fabrics into our own tops. I'm still not 100% sure on my layout, but I have a 40″x40″ panel done so far.

 

 

What are you choosing this week?

What's the goal you're working towards right now?

 

 

 

The magic of Mile Markers

This drive never fails to thrill. #avl #ilovemountains

 

Imagine, for a moment, that the path in your business – your to-dos and goals and plans – are a roadtrip. If I wanna drive from here to LA, I have choices. I could drive up to Minnesota (hi, Vanessa!) or down through Alabama (hi, Mercedes!), or I could just drive due West. If I fly, I'm going to end up going East first, through Charlotte.

What matters, as much as where I end up, is what I go through. That is going to determine how long it takes me, the experiences I have, and how satisfied I am overall with the trip.

Sure, I don't know all the tiny towns I'm going to drive through. I don't know all the sites I'm going to see. I don't even know if I'll change destinations halfway through. But picking the right Mile Markers (some of the in-between stops) will determine all that.

 

In Map Making, one of the first things we do is to make a list of Mile Markers. These are the things in between Where You Are and Where You Want to Go. These are the road signs you are going to pass on your way. To many map-makers, they seem like something extra. Not all that important.  But, after 2 years of watching map-makers reach (or not reach) their destinations (and learn lessons either way), I've come to learn that the Mile Markers are the map.
Mile Markers set your course, they pave the path between Here and There.

They help you:

  • Determine the direction you're going to go (through Alabama or Alaska?)
  • Focus in on what matters – and ignore all the distractions
  • Build confidence – each Mile Marker is a point of celebration!
  • Keep momentum – you only have to focus on the little bit of road between you and the next Mile Marker.

 

A lot of us get tangled up in is tasks that are unrelated to the destination.
We make To Do lists that are full of “extras”. (ex, I want to get press coverage…so I'll post on Facebook. I want to sell more blankets, so I'll post a tutorial.) Mile Markers can help you narrow down your to dos into the tasks that will move you in the right direction.

Setting appropriate, helpful Mile Markers is a process that takes time, trial + error, and lots of paying attention to what has worked (and what hasn't). But you learn all of this by doing it, again and again (and reviewing!)

 

What's your next mile marker?

DIY: Destination-setting

DIY: Destination setting
During a conversation about map-making last week, someone asked: I know all of the milemarkers (stuff I want to accomplish), but I don't have one BIG goal in mind. This is just a bunch of stuff that's not exactly tied together. Why do we have to pick a destination?

I love that question, because it perfectly expresses how most of us think about our business. We know what we want to do (release that new product, write that book, do that craft show), but they don't seem big enough to focus all of our focus on. And halfway there (especially when it looks like it's done deal), we move on to thinking about the next thing. Now that you released that product you want to redo your photography. Now that you wrote the book, you've got to edit it. Or you get sidetracked by the other (smaller) 5,000 things you want to do and forget all about your goal until next January.

Setting a destination is both a discipline and a celebration.

It's a discipline to focus in on reaching one goal, to keep on one path. It forces you to organize everything rolling around in your head  into a cohesive plan. It's easy to get sidetracked just chasing all these tiny-dos around our days and weeks, which leads to stumbling towards our goals.

It's a celebration because you acknowledge where you're going. It's easy to skip over what's happening now and start planning for the next thing, but when you know your destination you can take a minute to party when you get there. Yay! This is what I had planned for and now I'm here! I'm awesome!

No one else is going to do it.

When you work for yourself, you don't get raises based on employee evaluations.  You don't have a boss to give you a project or to grant you permission. No one will give you a pat on the back when you do a good job.

This is an adjustment. Up until now, someone else has set the parameters of success. Parents told you what they wanted. Teachers gave you tests. Bosses assigned work.

But now…not only do you have set your own projects (and systems for doing them…and measuring their success), you've also got to assign an end point. Otherwise, you'll never find one. There's no big moment (that I've found) when you think: Ok, I've done everything and am perfectly happy with what I've created here! You're always changing your goals and moving the definition of success. Without parameters and feedback, the work can become a grind. A never-ending list of things to do, with no sign of completion.

You've got to give it to yourself. You've got to assign the goalposts and then do a touchdown dance when you get to them. (And that's the only sports analogy you'll see around here!). You've got to decide what counts as a success and then celebrate it in order to enjoy the work.

What's your next destination?*

What do you want to accomplish by the end of March? And how will you know you're there? How will celebrate reaching it?

*Need help picking a destination? Try the Map Making Guide, or leave a comment and I'll help you brainstorm!

How a dream becomes doable

How a dream becomes doable

Now that you are swimming in beaming goals and dreams for the New Year and the holiday spirit is all packed up and put away…the moment of truth has come. How the heck are you going to make those dreams a reality? How are you going to get it all done? How is your day/week/month really, truly going to change to accommodate all the new plans?

The first step (and I know you know this!) is to break it down into do-able mini-goals. Something you can do or reach in 3 months that is measurable and map-able. The Map-Making Guide is my go-to way to break down a big goal into a bunch of smaller steps, do-able to-dos. (Elise has a great take on the difference between goals + to-dos here)

But even when you've made your whole map, plotted how to get from here to there….it's so tempting to stop. You have your big list, so you're all set! But well, that's not quite it.

You're not actually any closer until the to-do's get done.

And while I'd love to think I can fly down my list of to-do's in an orderly fashion…that never happens.Life gets in the way. Products have to be shipped, problems have to be solved, blog posts have to be written.

The only way to make sure the “extra” stuff get done (that stuff that moves you towards your bigger dreams, that's outside of your day to day work) is to make it a part of your normal day.

For most of the map-makers, this means Giving Your To Dos a Date. In the map-making guide we set lifelines (soft deadlines) for the stuff that has obvious dates associated with it, and then you move everything to a to-do list for the week. In other words, we're taking a big goal and taking it down to the exact week in which you'll take a step to get closer.

But then the question is: how do you get stuff done from the weekly level to the daily level?

I have a few things I do each week so I'm working on both my big goals (the map-made destinations) and the usual work of everyday life. This is what I used to write the book, get new wholesale yarn accounts and create my workshops.First, I set some intentions for the week.

What do I want to happen? What do I wish for?

And under each wish, I write:

How it might happen

My commitment to this wish

How I want to feel (or the qualities associated with this wish.)

Then, I make a big list of my projects (this might include movement towards a destination, or work for a client, or just blog posts), and include the to-dos under them.

 

On that list, I might assign a day of the week, or not.

And finally, I write my to-do list for the day. I make each day's list based on the weekly lists of project, going with what feels good and has my enthusiasm.

 

How do you move your big list of to-dos into your daily life?

PS. Before you plan your week, make sure your to-do list is moving you towards to your big, shiny dreams in a strategic way! Start with a map and then plan your week.

 

The Map is Not the Territory

Last week I was talking to  a map-maker and she said, You know, that goal I set, the endpoint for the map, it just doesn't fit anymore.

Exactly.
The map is not the territory.
Although maps are so vital to planning where you want to go, they're not the same thing as real life. Building your business, meeting your goals, exploring the world, it looks nothing like you thought it would.
Even if you crafted a really excellent, detailed map.
Even if you created it based on experience, and wisdom, and you thought we were traversing the same forest you've already been in.

Nope. The map you make is very different from the experience you have.

And that's a good thing!
The map is a guide, it's a starting point.
But the territory, the actual reality of moving towards your goals, that's the good stuff. That's growth and learning and adventure.

So if you made a map and set a goal and now you're only 1/3 of the way through it, and you look around, and you say, What the what? That's ok.
No, it's perfect! Because you are finally out of your head, off the page and on the real path.

You haven't done anything wrong, you've just learned more. So take out your map and edit it. Add in the rocks you didn't know were there. Build a bridge over that raging river. Take a side trip to refuel.

Whatever you learn from the territory: use it. Apply it to your map.

Or maybe you need a whole new map with a whole new endpoint. Maybe you realized halfway there that there is not where you really want to be. That's ok too! Find a picnic table, right there in the middle of your real life and make a new map.

(I totally stole this phrase from Alfred Korzybski. When I read it, I couldn't believe how totally it reflected map-makers experience!)

 

For more map-making inspiration, see Melissa's, Amy's, or Kristine's.

 

Amy makes a map

I am SO excited to have Amy, artist, map-illustrator, and Starship Cadet, sharing her map with us today! Amy illustrated the Fairytale map that you get with the guide, so I love seeing how she took her idea of what to share with YOU and actually used it in her own business.
Amy's Map

What’s the endpoint on your map, the thing you’re working towards?

It's coming up time for me to get a new work computer, and there was a symmetry that pleased me in paying for the work computer with art money. So, my endpoint is to sell original art, commissions, and Etsy items equal to the money for the computer and some new software. I gave myself a 6-month timeline, from July 1-December 31, which felt reasonable to me since a lot of the work was prep in the first three months towards sales in the second three.

How is the map helping you work towards this endpoint? What tools did you use to make your map?

It really helped me see where there was specific work to be done, and when in the process it needed to happen. I used the Fairytale Map, since it was my art and idea  and because I really liked the little extras I'd made for it.

First I put in my goal! I wrote the number I was going for on the pot of gold and pasted it at the very end of the path.

Second, I added the extra path-loop with the castle at the top labeled Etsy, so that the two Etsy-related milestones would be visually separated from those more focused on my fine art business.

Then, I added in the other 8 flags in the spots along the path, including some things that needed to be done right away, and some that were longer-term.

After that was done, I took the other little clip-art things {which come with the Guide!} and put them in the places that felt right. For instance, I stuck the dragon down with rewriting the copy on my sites, because copy is always a monstrous task! I put the little purple monster up with “New Online Venues” (and wrote “Scary! Rawr!” on him) because that's a hard thing for me, increasing visibility when my instincts are always to stay in the background.

I peppered the pine trees in the blank spaces, and then put the apple trees near the end and wrote “fruits of my labor” on them to represent the delicious moment when I go to the Apple store and buy my new laptop. Daily Art, which is my 6-times-a-week blogging of a new art piece every day, went near the end because while it's not the sort of milestone where you can say “there, done!” it's an ongoing part of my business that I felt deserved acknowledgement in my Map.

I cleaned my painting studio while I was still working on the Map, so I added a shiny sticker and a note in one of the open spaces to commemorate unearthing my easel again. I also got some ridiculous shiny bling to go on the flagpoles as I complete things, too, so that I don't just let the Map stay static. I think that show of change as the Milestones are reached will help keep me focused on my goal.

Did you learn anything new about your business during the process?

Tons!

I actually spent a couple of weeks contemplating my Milestones & all the steps they're going to take to complete before I finished the map, and it really helped me to see where the things are that I'm avoiding or wishy-washy about.

For instance, I was totally comfortable putting Daily Art on there as a forever-milestone, because I've been doing it for over a year now and it's quite habitual at this point to keep track of it during my week. But I waffled a lot about doing some kind of birthday celebration on the blog in September, because last year's was largely unsuccessful — it really showed me that I have a hole in my knowledge of what my audience wants in a promotion.

How has this changed (or not) what a normal day or week looks like in your biz?

I've really stepped up the time I spend on making and listing my art on the site — I take more photos, and I've set up a much easier-to-browse Art Shop on the site where people can find just the art that's for sale.

I also have put a higher priority on new projects and collaborations — I'm going to be doing some awesome laser-cut necklaces in collaboration with  Shannon of Polymath Labs (who I met through the Starship!), and I've started a whole line of awesomely gothy fabric designs on Spoonflower. Both of these things totally count as New Online Venues, but I've managed to sneak them past the monster because they're not things like blogs or forums.

Sssh, don't tell him!

I love having the metaphor of going on an adventure to my pot of gold — it reminds me of Neil Gaiman's wonderful poem “Instructions,” and really makes my goal seem like more of a game than a job. And, weirdly, makes it feel more attainable at the same time.

Even if I am still wishy-washy about my birthday celebration.

 

Thanks for sharing with us Amy! My favorite part is your use of dragon and that you have an apple tree at the end to symbolize your trip to the Apple store! So cute!

If you are thinking your craftybiz could use some direction and insight, check out the Map-Making Guide and you'll get 2 full pages of Amy's art (which includes the dragon and the path she used!), along with step-by-step instructions and a friendly make-sure-you-do-it email course. Get yours here.

What’s it look like?

What's your business (or dream of one) look like right this minute?

I've had a great time looking at the maps (like Kristine‘s + Amy‘s) you're making with the Map-Making Guide.

One of the best secret magics (yes, there are several) of the Map-Making Guide is that it makes your business visible.
Not just the path to your next goal (that's obviously part of it), but your entire biz.

Did you draw your map to be a dark + scary forest?
Or a well-lit  hike through the mountains?
Or a fairytale trail to a castle?

You don't need the Map-Making Guide for this

Close your eyes.
Think of your business, as it is right now.
What is it?
A place? A person?
Is it warm or cold? Dark or bright? Friendly or grumpy?

Write down the description or sketch out what you see.

Now, what's your Biz of the Future (your dream! your ideal!) look like?
Is it brighter or more abundant or more colorful or more rested?

What's the difference between the two?
What happened between Right Now and Future Dream to change it like that?

Now you have a pile of useful things about where your business is and where it wants to go!

(If you don't, if you can't see anything, you may want to talk it out.)

 

In seeing your biz, you'll also see it's stories.

We'll talk about this more next week, but think about it: what story goes along with your map?

(ex. Red Riding Hood being eaten, Rocky overcoming, the Hobbits going home to the Shire, Thor being cast from Asgard)

What can you see that you've been telling yourself about your business and where it is?

1 2