How to Drive Focus and Deliver your Resolutions

Day 1. Let me begin with how to eat that Frog a little every day and not choke on it after more than a decade of trying.

Twelve years ago I started a magazine business based on evidenced need, robust data analysis, market segmentation, industry experience, incredible naivety, and a massive fundamental lack of an actual plan on how to get shit done.

Things didn’t go well.

Skip about three-quarters of the way down this article if you’ve just come for the money shot.

So far, I’ve learned a considerable amount about the industry, I’ve started five magazines, I’ve learned how to build brands and websites, I’ve learned coding, accounting, I’ve seen a reasonably comfortable amount of success with one or two of the titles as online blogs, but ultimately, I’ve failed to publish a single physical printed magazine. I feel completely and utterly unfulfilled.

That changes now.

I have a passion for magazines — I left University with a degree in Electronic Engineering and a promise to never work in that industry. I stumbled into a job at a magazine publisher and cut my teeth under the supervision of an ex-broadsheet advertising sales manager; a boss who was conditioned to working to tight daily deadlines. It was a baptism of fire but one that ignited my lifelong interest in periodicals.

Learning about magazines while working on a Stationery and Office Supplies magazine meant that I learned fast about the content, editing, structure, format, advertising, subscriptions; everything that goes into making a magazine successful regardless of the magazine topic or whether it was interesting.

I moved from Office Supplies to the Golf trade — another industry that I knew nothing about but I quickly learned, formed a network, and built trust with writers, editors, advertisers, and industry contacts that I’m still proud to be friends with 20 years later.

Success in Golf led to a year on the flagship Sports trade publication which led to a move to a global b2b Sports publication and six fantastic years under two owners and an opportunity to learn about online magazines (the internet being useful for business was still kinda new back then).

I bought and read every magazine I could get my hands on, I attended industry events, spoke to publishers and editors, and even went on courses

Which is a circuitous and tedious way of saying I know how to run a magazine. SO WHY HAVE I NOT MANAGED TO PUBLISH ONE IN TWELVE YEARS?

There were some distractions. In the last twelve years, I’ve worked on three Olympic Games, have two children, one divorce, and now work for two charities — I’m equally proud of all of these, but I still yearn to produce my magazine. So what’s the missing ingredient?

I need to write more.

As Albert Einstein never said:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

It’s time to do it differently.

You may have heard this a million times, especially if you follow the writing-centric publications on Medium but it’s true, I’m going to write every day.

To be clear, that doesn’t mean I will publish an article every day — I know that is a New Year’s Resolution for a lot of writers, but I think that could drive quantity at the expense of quality.

I’m not trying to achieve the most number of followers (but do please click that follow button), and I’m not trying to earn a living from readers clapping my articles (but do please clap if you like it as it drives my motivation to write).

I’m doing this for my wellbeing, my sense of work-life balance, a need to get the voices out of my head (in a good way), and ultimately I’m doing it for me.

How do we Drive Focus and Deliver our New Year’s Resolutions?

Oh yes — the point of this article, let’s go.

We need to break down our resolutions to individual tasks — and these should be verbs; read more in my most successful Medium article so far: How to write an effective to-do list to drive Productivity (I like driving).

Next, we need to work out what the minimum is that we need to do to achieve that task. Call it Pareto’s rule (can 20% achievement trigger 80% of results?) or you may have heard of the Minimum Effective Dose, or the Minimum Viable Product.

I like to call it the Oh Shit approach. I have ADHD and one of the benefits it that I’m bloody good at working fast and hard when there is an impending deadline — Hyperfocus in an emergency or under pressure is the positive side of procrastination in the face of no deadline. I work well when I look at the clock, realise something needs to be done quickly, shout ‘Oh Shit’ and crack on with the work.

I admit that ‘Eat That Frog’ has a catchier title, and yes I could probably drag out my approach into 110 pages and sell it as straight-to-Kindle, but I’m only writing this to motivate myself and get started.

I’ve had an online magazine of one sort or another for twelve years — before most print titles had even launched websites of their own, but it’s not been working for me. I spend more time updating Wordpress and changing the theme and fonts than I do writing.

I needed to find somewhere to focus on the writing and not all the other bollocks.

I’m going to publish on Medium — please click the follow button to follow my articles. It’s only with your positive critical support that I can make a success of writing. It’s only with readers engaging with Medium to follow authors they like and to clap for articles they like that we can make the Medium content better and help excellent writing receive better visibility.

I’m going to write every day, publish at least once a week, and not worry about the website.

I’m going to experiment with long-form, short posts, thought leadership, and brain farts.

I know that the good writing won’t always be seen (check out my article Art for Art’s sake), and I know that sometimes my articles will seem random as hell (see Psychology of Love Island from the Sex Raft), but I’m writing for the sake of writing, to scratch that creative itch I have. I’m doing it for me; my New Year’s Resolution is to be more selfish and do things that make me happier.

Recap on How to Drive Focus and Deliver your Resolutions

  1. Break down resolutions into achievable smaller tasks that begin with a verb.
  2. Work out what is a minimum essential amount of ‘doing’ — so even if you’ve only achieved that, you can sleep better.
  3. Force the ‘Oh Shit’ moment by self-imposing deadlines. Block out time in the diary, see through your minimum task to completion first thing in the morning before you start the rest of your day.

This was Day 1 for me. Happy New Year!

If you’ve found this interesting or helpful, please click follow and clap away. It’s what makes Medium.

Publisher of Copse Magazine. Owner of Sailfin. Director of Comms. Mentor. Makes websites/copywrites for other people, & parents two kids in South East UK

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