A Little Secret

I have to admit something, please keep it quiet. Come closer, I’ll whisper…


Its a damn nuisance, every time I am about to get going on something, life conspires to really slow me down, in the form of pesky childhood illnesses messing with my children, moving countries or more work (at work) than I know what to do with.

So, on Sunday night (yeah, March 25th) I gave myself an ultimatum –
“Execute or revoke your planning rights”.

The deal was to start burning down on some of all this work that was queued up or just admit defeat and never add anymore.

What kind of work am I talking about anyway – well here is the broad list:

  • Work on startup idea #1/17: Something called ‘StoryTeller’. Its stealth right now, so ssssh!
  • Do more yoga, specifically Bikram ‘hot’ yoga. You can share that experience in “Getting Sweaty – My First Bikram Yoga Experience.”
  • Read more (more variety, more often)
  • Knit more
  • Blog more at wizewerx.com, blogs.chittych.at and mhsutton.me (here)


Paralysed By Planning

Like I said, I spent a couple of months in planning paralysis, pinned by fear (of failing, learning curve sickness), plagued by self doubt (“Am I good enough, am I still hungry enough to code till 3am every night and still hold down a highly responsible job?”) and prone to sudden bouts of laziness (“Screw work, I’m watching the Mentalist!”).

So rather than start anything, I simply added more stuff and planned, planned and planned so more!
To make things worse, as an agile coach and advisor to startups, I know that execution is where the goodness is.  Winners plan and ship and losers just plan.

This knowledge is like a Jiminy Cricket on ecstasy – reminding me at every turn to do what I ask others to do when faced with a slump – take some time out, collect thoughts, mobilise energy and just do something (anything!) on the list. Most times this will lead from one thing to another and the execution engine just kicks in.

Faced with doing something or giving up,  I chose to do something.


Plan as though you mean to Execute

To get out of my quicksand, I had to act.  What worked for me was to plan my next week like I really meant to go through with it.  I went into my calendar and added the time for Yoga, reading, writing and working on the startup.

So on Monday – I called and booked a Yoga class and actually went to the Monday evening session. I paid €50 for 30 consecutive day trial. I already know how many days I will be going for. Its not 30 though.  This Yoga is different – its Bikram ‘hot’ yoga and I endured the most exhausting 90 minutes I have done since I stopped chasing chickens for sport. Then I started to write about it.

On Tuesday, I did more yoga at home. Not the hot kind, but really enjoyable Vinyasa ‘Flow’ yoga.

Did I read?  You bet.  Its too early to call it a routine, but I start with 30 minutes of my book (its on iBooks and its called ‘Calculating God’ by Robert J Sawyer)

Tonight I also started work on Storyteller.  Nothing fancy, just some basic javascript to test some ideas.

Oh. And I wrote this blog.

Pearls of Wisdom       

Here are 7 of the main learnings I could distil from my experience.

  1. If you can help it, don’t beat yourself up too much for not executing. Recognise that you aren’t and move on.  I didn’t do this soon enough, I hope you will.
  2. Act like you are going to do what you plan to do. Book a place on a class, pay the money, commit to someone – whatever.
  3. Be specific about what you want to do (I already had the specifics in my plan!)
  4. Give yourself a shorter timeframe than ‘forever’. Pick a week and see if you can sustain it for a week.
  5. Don’t give up. Email me and I’ll help you keep going, have a beer or two. Maybe take a break, just don’t quit.
  6. Get some early success, it helps.
  7. Have something to show for the work you do. Visible results of execution are fantastic motivators (I have the sore legs to show for the yoga and this blog to show for the writing).

Thanks for reading, I would love to know what you thought of this post.

One thought on “Planning is good, Execution is better.”
  1. Good insights, Mike.
    Your methods differ from mine, yet the situation and kind of improvement is similar…
    Thanks, as this encourages me to go on.
    Take care

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