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How to Finish Something You Don’t Want To

Finish Something

After a long delay, my new project Adventure Capital will be launching tomorrow in beta. A lot of people have asked for more info on it, and a few people have also asked, “What took so long?”

First Things First—What Is It?

Adventure Capital is a 12-month intensive course on small business, designed to help new and struggling entrepreneurs increase income. We’ll achieve that goal by addressing two problems: many aspiring business owners don’t make the right products and services, and many of them don’t connect with the right people.

But more on that later. We have a diverse crowd here at AONC, and not everyone cares about entrepreneurship. This will be a paid product, so if you don’t need to increase income or it’s just not for you, skip this one and I’ll see you back on Thursday.

For everyone else, I thought I’d share a bit more about the struggle I experienced in putting together this project. Specifically, there were three problems that each presented their own challenge.

Problem #1: Overwhelm.

I first announced Adventure Capital way, way back in August of last year. This was either a mistake or I was just … really early. 🙂

I thought I’d be able to finish my part of things in time, but clearly I wasn’t. As the proposed launch date in the fall drew closer, I felt overwhelmed. I was in the final stages of visiting my last countries, and it was stressful to get the visas and arrange the flights.

At the same time I was continuing to support The $100 Startup, both in the U.S. and around the world as different translations came out. I went to India, I went to Korea, and we planned a new mini-tour to twelve U.S. cities.

I had also begun to gather the research for my next book, a time-consuming (though enjoyable) process. Lastly, our team was going through some changes as we planned for WDS 2013, where we’ll be welcoming a much larger group to Portland than we’ve ever had before.

Perhaps the problem seems obvious to you, but it wasn’t to me: it was just a matter of too many big things at once.

Solution to problem #1: Defer!

We pushed back the plans for Adventure Capital to early 2013. It felt good and was the right decision.

Problem #2: Uncertain motivation.

Early 2013 came around and I had made it to Guinea Bissau and Tuvalu. I had completed the India tour. All was on track… except it wasn’t.

My second problem wasn’t that I didn’t want to finish the course, it was that I didn’t want to start. Whenever I looked at related emails or opened the files I used for writing, I felt oddly uninspired.

What was wrong with me? I couldn’t figure it out for a while.

After thinking it through, I realized I just needed to work from a different head space. I felt mildly depressed last fall even as I was on the go, and I realized I needed to see this project as part of the solution, not part of the problem.

I finally just made myself get started again, drafting the content for twelve lengthy modules and responding to the (very overdue! sorry, design partners!) emails. Once I was able to make the shift, I had a completely different frame of mind. I was excited about this! It could be good!

When I looked at the design being built and the backend development being crafted, I realized once again that this was fun.

When I thought about the people who would be helped through the course, I became motivated once again.

You can make yourself do some things even when they’re not fun. But when it feels fun, it’s a lot easier.

Solution to problem #2: reframe and push through.

This problem was unexpected and tough to resolve, but all’s well that ends well.

Problem #3: Final anxiety over the launch date.

I had one final problem, and thankfully this one was easier. We were almost done with the project—the first few months of coursework, the user process, the frontend design, and all the stuff under the hood—but this was less than one week before getting on a flight for Norway and the end of the world.

What to do? Do we try to push forward or do we defer another two weeks?

While I was pondering the decision, my genius developer Nicky Hajal wrote this in an email:

I think it is possible to have things ready on Monday but part of me thinks this might be a great opportunity to experience a new type of launch where everything is finished more than 24 hours before people flood in.

The truth is that we’ve been working on this for so long, another couple weeks seems like a small trade-off compared to what we’d learn from the feeling of a less stressful launch.

When I read Nicky’s note I instantly knew that he was right. We didn’t push it and try to get it done before Norway… we waited two more weeks until today.

Solution to problem #3: defer (for a brief, specific period of time).

Because we had already put off the launch so long, I was reluctant to do so again—but deferring for a specific time period and for a good reason made sense once I accepted it.

A Short Preview

I wanted to share this long backstory for anyone who struggles with finishing an important project. I haven’t actually said much about the course, though!

Since The $100 Startup came out, I’ve done more than 45 reader events on four continents so far (three more to come!). By far the biggest request I hear is “This is great, but we need help implementing the lessons and applying the case studies to our business.”

Adventure Capital is a response to that need. Through an in-depth series of monthly course modules, we’ll help participants improve their products and services while reaching more people. The goal is to increase income and sustainability for any small business, whether new or existing.

You can see a few screenshots below (click to enlarge):

HomeFirstSix TextHeavy ExampleGlossary Headline

***

For those who are interested in starting or improving a business, Adventure Capital will go live tomorrow morning, 9am PST / 12pm EST. We’ll have the signup process open for three days before closing it for at least three weeks to work with the initial group.

Those who enroll in the beta phase will receive two bonuses, including a free month of tuition and an extended video Q&A session with me after the first month’s module is complete.

Anyway, more on that tomorrow for those who are interested.

Have you struggled with finishing something? What are you trying to finish right now?

Comments here.

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Image: Kevin

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41 Comments

  • Daniele says:

    Chris, this will be a blast!Like all other your projects!. After “surviving” the end of the world (by the way the party was amazing!) this should be easy as a mere 5k run 😉

  • Jina says:

    YES! This post was so valuable to me – thank you! While I know passion hits peaks and valleys when it’s your own business it’s hard to ride those waves comfortably. I feel least motivated about something right before I put the last nails of the project in. I try to be aware of this and as soon as I notice it, I journal about what I’m feeling, hit up a new working environment or take a couple days off. All much easier said than done, but I get better each time!

  • Trenia says:

    I’m finding myself connecting with your story. I know what I need to do, it’s the getting started that’s the problem. I’m excited about the end result of what “could be” accomplished with a financial program I’ve been thinking about, but getting there seems tough and daunting. I’m hoping the price of your course will be reasonable as I think this may give me the boost/motivation to get started again. Thanks Chris! Congrats again on your journey…

  • Pat says:

    It’s all in the follow-though/execution. This is why you can buy the books for law school for $500 but you have to pay the school $100,000 to force you to go through all the stuff and actually learn it.
    I’m the type that gets lots of ideas and does some sketching out of a plan and doing some research. I’m at the point now where I have to sit down every day and make sure I produce content for my customer. Such a different animal.
    Thanks for launching this. It’s going to make a difference.

  • Good stuff.

    I really like point #2 as I’ve had similar situations plenty of times in my life. It’s funny how when we are able to successfully reframe something and push through it how fun the things actually can be! (Also sometimes they seem much easier once you push through as well, whereas they seemed daunting beforehand.)

    All the best with the new project!

  • Benay says:

    Thanks for sharing Chris! I’m just about to launch beautiful software to help life coaches manage their clients. LOVED the design and build phases but am dreading the marketing and launch…bum, bum, bum… It’s a regular pattern with me.

    -B

  • Benny says:

    We are used to seeing the end product for many different things, but don’t hear much about how much of a challenge it was to get there. It’s good to know that there are challenges, but they can be overcome. Plus if it was too easy, then that probably meant you didn’t care about the project enough.

  • Anita Chase says:

    I am trying to re-organize my life to be more productive and efficient. For a long time, I moved constantly and enjoyed living in a state of somewhat manageable chaos, that I was able to juggle fairly decently. After a personal crisis several years ago, I lost the ability to keep up with everything and started dropping things left and right, but in a very haphazard manner. I have been getting my life back together and going through all of the paperwork to whittle things down to where I know where they are and can make them more productive (multiple websites, financial services, email addresses,etc. some of which I have not accessed for years!)
    My next project that I have been putting off is getting all of the various websites, domains, and pieces of websites all under the same hosting provider, so I only have one service provider to deal with. I have been delaying mainly because I don’t understand how it works, as I used to have someone else who dealt with that. But since I don’t anymore, I need to just sit down and figure it out myself. I know this will be the most beneficial in the long run, but in the short term, it’s painful! And then it’s time to update the copyrights…

  • Deanna says:

    Yes, unfortunately there is only one way for the work to get done, and that it is to do it. Sometimes that does take restrategizing, redefining, and well-considered deferrals. These are hard to do and can become self-defeating. Thanks for sticking with it, Chris. If nothing else, you have definitely heightened the anticipation!

  • Andrzej says:

    So, generally, it’s better to fight the pride/anxiety/fear/anything and – if circumstances are right (or set to be right) – delay a project a little than serve raw and unprepared.

    It reminds me of gaming industry. Delaying games (mostly on the AAA tier) is right now regular marketing strategy, almost the same as posters in shopping malls. But it all started from the big studios that have been often deciding to reschedule product launch to make the product better. Also, as a side-effect, it happened to have huge impact on the society around the game – they were getting closer together, “in waiting” for their new, favourite game.

    But there’s another trick. The author (or studio) *MUST* be ready for the rescheduled, new date. Another rescheduling is only weakening the communication.

    Interesting case 🙂

    Waiting till Thursday!,
    Andrzej

  • Wyn says:

    My motivation for things goes up and down unpredictably. So does my ability to push through and do things anyway. Ways to get the ball rolling — find a few small tasks to ramp up with, promising myself a small treat, or shutting out the world with music and diving deep into the stuck thing. But one of the best kickstarts is cleaning my desk to clear my mind.

    What gets stuck? Tasks I need to do, but that cause fear and doubt. Could be the size, the activity, or lack of progress, which can turn into a downward spiral. Could be that the place I need to do the work in is too busy, noisy, or messy to concentrate hard enough. (I don’t always have the option to pick up and work elsewhere.) The worst stuckness comes from fear and doubt over not succeeding because someone else must be pleased or grant approval, and won’t no matter how hard I work. That’s the one I need help beating.

  • Rudiano says:

    Great post! Glad I’m not the only one struggling with project completion! I tend to be excited at the start but invariably lose motivation half way through so I procrastinate, especially with the tedious bits. I try to get them out of the way first but it’s an ongoing battle as there’s always several at the same time. A few unfinished projects of mine: novel writing, research for another writing project and some day to day life to sort out including spring clean….. Aaaargh!

  • Dave Fox says:

    Chris,

    I appreciated the transparency and backstory in this post! I had a grueling product launch last month for a new version of my online humor writing class. My “100 Hours of Humo(u)r” blogathon was my dumbest publicity stunt ever — 100 blog posts in 100 hours. I planned to pre-write a bunch of posts so I could sleep, but life got busy. I slogged through the launch, wanting to give up in hour seven, but met my 100 hours/100 posts goal (thanks in part to guest posts from readers rallying behind me), yet it was a whiny, sleep-deprived four days.

    I’m now trying to thwart deja vu as I scramble to get my revamped travel writing course ready by June, while heading to Saigon in three weeks to start work on a new book. (And there’s more but I’ll spare you.) I’m still fine-tuning my message. Sales from last month’s launch were okay but not as stellar as I’d hoped.

    I’ve been eagerly awaiting your new course. Looking forward to hearing more. Congrats on finishing it (as well as that other little thingy you just wrapped up) — and THANK YOU for this particular blog post. I feel ever-so-slightly less neurotic after reading it. Glad I’m not the only one who gets into these messes! 🙂

  • Renee says:

    Congrats on your achievements! I’m interested in Adventure Capital, but I won’t be able to participate now (must finish Master’s degree, that’s my mantra). So, are you considering offering this in future? Also, I’m outlining a writing project that I want to embark on. Is AdvCap aimed towards writing projects?
    Thanks a bunch. Looking forward to WDS!

  • Chris says:

    @Renee,

    Keep working on your Master’s! Adventure Capital is more directly related to business development.

  • RSS subscriber here and just leaving this first comment because I recognized my brother’s photo in your post.

  • Chris says:

    @Ryan – awesome! It’s a great photo.

  • Dorothy says:

    That sounds great; I was wondering what your next chapter would be so I guess that this post answers that question. I fear that I won’t be able to take part in this because of the time of day. Personally, I have been slowly working to get some of my artwork photographed by a professional and registered with the copyright office. My next part of the project is to start to blog about the transition to making money as an artist, and opening a store for my artwork. My current artwork is child-centric and would be appropriate for book illustrations, wall art, and the such. I’m running into planning problems as I am not sure whether to do “fulfilled by Amazon,” use Etsy, or just run my own store using something like Zencarts. I have a domain name registered more than a year ago, but although I move forward a little each month, at some point I’m just going to have to go all in.

  • Sabine says:

    Chris, thanks for this project! This is exactly what I am going through starting to figure out my own micro-business. Am definitely interested in these modules although your $100 start up has really been helpful already!

  • Tova says:

    I love this post. Totally resonate. I feel often projects take a life of their own. You can push it, but sometimes (or always 🙂 I find it is better to be present with what is Actually happening, be willing to let go of the original plan and allow the project to unfold in its right timing! I have had a book that I was going to launch last November, but then I realized, why am I rushing this? Although the skeleton of the book was more than done, I knew taking extra time to refine and edit would enhance the quality. And now months later, I am still putting the finishing touches, and still have yet to launch it! It is coming soon, but I feel OK to not have a set date just yet.

  • Erica says:

    I can totally relate to how you were feeling. It’s amazing what can happen with a little shift in consciousness 🙂 I’m glad you finished the project, and am looking forward to reading all about it tomorrow!
    Best,
    Erica

  • Brandon says:

    Chris! I’m interested but am in the early research phase of launching my platform. Plan on having it up and producing great content in a few months but don’t plan on monetizing for a year or more while I build an audience.

    Is Adventure Capital more for established businesses or will be be useful for a brand-spanking new one? Looking forward to the journey.

    Brandon

  • Alan says:

    Nice to see this post in my inbox this morning. Point # 2 is something I relate to and I’m finding this “Uncertain Motivation” coming up more and more as I dig deeper into my project.

    Does this theme repeat for you too?

    I have found lately that it’s not that I am necessarily uncertain of my end goal but more that I am uncertain of which “Path” will lead me quickest to it. At the end of the day though I commit to at least making forward progress down one path, as I know it is getting me a step in the right direction.

    Looking forward to seeing what “Advneture Capital” is all about.

    Best,
    Alan

  • Kaitlyn says:

    YES! I’ve written several books and last year I decided that THIS year I was gong to publish one of them no matter what. I also decided to layout the entire thing myself A) because I can and B) because I learn by doing and if I’m going to be publishing the rest of my books I should start somewhere with the skill building.

    I announced that it would be published at the end of March. I didn’t give a date on purpose but I gave a month because I work well to deadlines and I work well when I’m held accountable – so everyone who reads my facebook page or blog or follows me on twitter would know.

    It’s nearly May. Im still working on it, still excited about it, but also appreciate that it’s more important for it to be something worth publishing than to be slapped together just for the sake of a deadline.

  • I started talking with a publisher in 2009 about a book project called AWOL – using my paintings of school girls. 4 years later the art is all finished and I am working with the designer on the last little extras that will make it as special as possible – there was the option of wrapping it up a few weeks early but we decided to “go the distance” so that we can push the book’s overall design flow.
    One last illustration to go – fancy end pages- and I’ll be able to turn to other projects.
    There were so many “lesser” versions of the book that could have happened if I’d have given into the pressure but at the end of the day no one is more aware the time than the person creating the product/service. After all : it won’t be remembered because it was two weeks late or two weeks early but on the quality of the product/service itself.

  • Jen says:

    This post was really relevant for me – I think I struggle to finish things because I try to do too much in general – like many people, I’m sure! I work as a music teacher/performer and I love picking the music to perform, researching the music, learning some of the music, but when it comes to memorizing, or learning my last 3 pieces for a performance, I struggle to actually (find time to) do the practicing. Then I cram it in 10 days before the performance. Bad habit! I’ve learned a lot from my current recital project and I need to remember how GOOD it feels when the music is more secure and I can convey more than just words and notes on a page to the audience.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your project and thanks for sharing the back-story! Great to see other people’s comments too 🙂

  • Alexis says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the post! I recently started a new business, Wellness by Alexis, and often feel crippled with overwhelm. I have lots of inspiration, passion and knowledge but get stuck in the details of how to create my programs or products, what my focus is, making money, etc.

    I’m interested to learn more about Adventure Capital but couldn’t find a link for more information?
    Thanks!

  • Chris says:

    @Alexis,

    Tomorrow!

  • Joe Marshall says:

    This is an excellent post. In life, there are times when we have to do things we don’t want to, whether it be a project at work, studying for a test at school, or training for an upcoming race. We must complete these assignments before we can move on to new and better things. Chris’ point #2 is the best: you must reframe. In Victor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search For Meaning,” Frankl makes the point that a man can do almost anything if he has a reason why. The key is to find your why. If you are going through a job that you don’t necessarily enjoy, your why can be that it allows you to provide for your family. If you view it from this angle, your job will become better. Reframing is key.

    Great post Chris

  • Melanie says:

    Thanks for elucidating the process, Chris. Yes, sometimes those creative ideas demand to be born immediately, and sometimes they run and squeal and make things difficult like a slippery hog at a redneck picnic. Ha!

    I am working on finishing my first book, “Quit That Freaking Job Already,” and find that it is vital for me to work on it a bit every day to keep my momentum up. Here’s to glorious completion!

  • JccKeith says:

    This post was very helpful and I could definitely identify with it. I have two novels currently that I am need to finish editing. I have been delaying finishing by working on other projects, namely short stories.

  • Michelle says:

    Even though I’m probably not interested in the Adventure Capital course (right now anyway), I can so relate to this post. I’ve been in the process of writing an ebook for months now, and everything, including lack of motivation, get in the way – work, having a life, university, blah blah blah. Thanks for the tips.

  • Thank you Chris! The part about re-framing was especially helpful.

    I’m working on a business that I imagine will take most of my lifetime. Having the clarity and the smaller steps (very vaguely) mapped out is helpful to keep moving forward.

    I do have trouble with the smaller week-to-week milestones. It’s only been 5 weeks thus far, and I’ve finished some important milestones. Yet I’ve also felt the dread and lack of motivation. Your advice to re-frame helps me face the small challenges ahead. Thank you!

  • Christina D says:

    I have been working on a book about addressing the causes of overweight and obesity (not just the effect i.e. the weight itself) which evolved to an e-book and has now evolved to two e-courses over a period of, say, six years. I set a deadline of 31st March 2013 and then promptly fell down my stairs (no, it wasn’t avoidance!). I have now revised the deadline to 30 April. I have told my friends that if I don’t complete it by then they can throw rotten tomatoes at me. If I have completed, they can throw Swiss chocolates (gently) at me. My constant companion through all of this has been a fear that it won’t be considered good enough and purchased. Although, of course, if you never publish, it DEFINITELY won’t be purchased!

  • very interesting Chris but if you have uncertain motivation then I have to say you usually will end up mailing it right?

    I’ve found this is when people “go through the motions” the most.

  • Leigh says:

    Sounds awesome Chris! I am planning on starting my own business by the end of this month so I will be definitely keeping an eye on this product!

  • Kel says:

    It is tomorrow, and how do we find this opportunity??

  • Chris says:

    @It’s now today! Check the new post or go to YearofProfit.com.

  • Kerry Dexter says:

    thanks for this, Chris. as I am working on a book project and a course design, I found the reminders about reframing and hearing about your decisions on launch strategies really encouraging. best of luck to you and all who will take part in the early days of your new course.

  • Ciara Conlon says:

    Heh Chris, loved the honesty in this article. I have completed some big projects writing my book Chaos to Control and creating my online course Get Set for Success were both huge achievements but it doesn’t make it any easier, each time is a struggle to get it all done and to keep moving. Scheduling has been the biggest help to me in making things happen, if it’s not scheduled it doesn’t get done. Also as you say give yourself a break if its a couple of weeks late the truth is nobody really cares. Good Luck with the launch

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