I don't know what that next step looks like for you (though I'd love for you to tweet me with #NextStep so I can cheer you on!), but for me it looked like a long list of partially started projects and filed-for-later dreams. In order to do the next thing, I started by writing them down, and specifically focusing on the next 90 days (breaking down Living Forward's recommendation).
A Specific Example...
Towards the top of my list was the task of dusting off the cobwebs from the children's book we wrote and published 6 years ago, and breathing new life into our promotional efforts. The motivation is different this time around, with the results of our efforts (i.e. book sales) going into our adoption fund. There are 5 little Costa Rican faces in my head now when I work on spreading the word about Mashed Potatoes - and that's 5 x's the motivation, let me tell you!
Although I reopened our Little Brother Stories Facebook page about a month ago (feel free to join us, I don't spam your news feed, I promise!), and updated our combined author bio on Amazon and Goodreads, there were still unfinished ideas on the list.
A fellow author recently passed on some helpful tips that someone had shared with her. Taking her advice, I signed up for a square account and ordered a stack of Mashed Potatoes to keep on hand. I also followed her lead and decided to dive in to the world of free video trailers. I quickly realized I was way out of my depth. Someone throw me a life ring!
Despite the fact that I am not technical (e.g. I read paper books, take notes by hand, and obsess over cute notebooks), I managed to figure out PowToons after a few hours of under-my-breath muttering. If only it were as simple as creating a video, but it also meant setting up a YouTube account, creating a header that would look okay on all three preview layouts (screen, mobile, and TV), and figuring out a work-around to download the final video as an MP4 file (the free version of PowToons doesn't allow for that).
In the end - SUCCESS! Not before the Hubs had a few laughs at my expense, but he's entitled - he spent hours doing his own muttering when he used to create all of our video updates while we were overseas. And, of course, I want you to see it!
So now what do I do? Now that the video's made, I can check one thing off of my list, right? Not quite. It's true that I took my next step on one item of my list, but that doesn't mean I now get to sit back and wait for the success to find me. It doesn't mean I get to stop pounding the online (and offline) pavement to get the word out about this book or my other endeavors. And it certainly doesn't mean that I'm checking off a box.
It does mean I've made progress towards defining my next step.
For example, now that the step of actually creating the video is done, it's time for me to turn my efforts towards letting people know it exists. If I have the best video in the world (not saying I do!), but I haven't told anyone about it, then my invested time has been wasted. Even banking a new skill in my account (5 hours of practice on PowToon), I have to be mindful of where my time is going if it's not being wisely channeled towards my Next Step of building a community of people who are willing to share their social channels, hard earned dollars, and a smidgen of their time with me to talk about the book.
It's not only important to take the next step, but to keep your goal at the forefront of your to do list. If I lose sight of the goal, then my list of steps aren't going to help me. If I lose sight of why I'm creating a video about a book that's been in print for 6 years, focusing on the fact that I checked off a box instead of moving to the next step, then I'm not actually working towards my goal.
If I keep my goal in focus (covering the expenses of bringing our 5 kids home), then I see each step in terms of how it moves me forward. So my next step of getting traction for Mashed Potatoes leads to selling more books, which leads to additional income from those sales, which fills our savings account, and that pays for our kids to come home.
Bottom Line. Know what you're working towards, and keep your eye on the prize.
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Interested in becoming part of the community? I'd be honored if you'd take one of these steps with me!
- Watch the video.
- Share the video (or this post).
- Buy the book (on CreateSpace or Amazon).
- Donate a copy to your local library.
- Tell your friends to buy the book.
- Leave a review so others will buy a copy.
- Play a part in helping us bring home 5 kids.