They say to be good at improv, you need to stay out of your head and in the moment.

You have to trust yourself enough to allow your body to lead you. And when it’s your turn to speak, trusting enough to know that you’ll say the exact best thing to be said. However you respond is a gift to the scene.

The trouble starts when you don’t trust yourself. There’s no way to prepare for what’s coming. You could have the perfect response to a comment made 30 seconds ago but it wasn’t your turn then. It’s your turn now and the rear-view-mirror now looks entirely different.

You can get the job done by thinking about it. It’s safer, even if it falls a little flat. At least you didn’t say something stupid or offensive.

But what magic are you and the group missing because you don’t trust yourself? It’s risky. Your response could be completely inappropriate or absurd.

It takes courage to trust that you already know the right thing to do or say. To commit to yourself.

Making butter

If you have ever tried making your own butter, you know that before you see a yellow glob form in the jar, you must first endure a long period of shaking the cream back and forth. Back and forth. The process will fool you. You will begin to wonder how much more shaking will be needed. You will begin to wonder if this is really the way to make butter at all.

Meanwhile, your arm is starting to tire. The ache makes you switch hands. Still nothing.

‘Am I doing it wrong’? you will say to yourself.

Sure, there are certain conditions that do make the job easier. Using a large jar that provides ample space for the cream to move back and forth will help. Having a friend on hand to take over shaking the jar to give your arms a chance to recover has the added benefit of making the task more social.

Still, there will inevitably be a long period of shaking the jar when no change is evident.

The cream will give you no indication that it’s changing states until you sense a telltale glob moving from end to end in the jar. The butter will suddenly, almost miraculously, form itself in the bottom of the jar with just a trickle of watery run off remaining of what was once fluid cream.

Making butter is a repetitive process. There are no shortcuts. It involves doing the same thing over and over until you see change.

Default mode

One of my goals for the first quarter of 2019 is to re-launch my marketing planning process for new clients. It’s a huge undertaking and something I have had on my to-do list since the summer.

To be honest, since then I really hadn’t been making much progress. The idea of working on it excited me - I would look forward to it all week but when Saturday rolled around (the day I typically set aside for business development work), I would either be distracted by a seemingly endless array of more important and urgent tasks or when I did sit down to work on it, I would rework the same few things over and over again.

It felt as if I didn’t know enough. Or that I didn’t have enough information. Or I would happen upon a new tool and decide I needed to master its use before I could use it to help my clients.

Until I got talking about work to a friend over the holidays. I excitedly told him about my new process and how soon I would be looking for test clients. Would he like to be one, I asked.

The following week he asked when I was going to schedule the first workshop. Shit. The content is nowhere near complete. But instead of putting him off, I scheduled the workshop for a Friday morning in less than two weeks’ time.

I pushed to send him the on-boarding questionnaire. Told him to have it back to me at the end of the week.

That weekend I nailed down the workshop agenda, notes and activities. On Monday morning, I briefed in the presentation deck, worksheets, posters and other tools in for design.

Tomorrow is the pre-workshop phone call when I brief my new client on how the process will play out. The day after that is the workshop.

If my friend hadn’t pushed to get his workshop scheduled, I promise you, I would still be working on the content through this summer.

When you have are working towards something that seems out of reach or you just don’t have the energy to make it happen, distinguishing passive action from massive action can be helpful.

The reason I’ve been able to pull together the pieces so quickly is not because I’ve pulled all-nighters and not because the process was easy, but because I took action consistently to get it done. Instead of burying my head in a book, taking passive action to learn something new, I took massive action writing the actual content I needed to create to get the thing done.

Instead of telling myself there was no way I could get the design briefed in time, I wrote the brief, scheduled the meeting and got the ball rolling.

There are times when passive action is needed. Energy ebbs and flows. New concepts float by that we want to explore. It’s when it becomes our default mode that it gets in the way of taking change-making action.

Using gravity to your advantage

I’m not the person who will tell you to leap head first into starting a new business full-time with no financial safety net. I’m all for maintaining a part-time gig to maintain some stability while your passion project gains momentum.

This balance can be hard. Running a business means there is always work to be done, a deadline approaching, an urgent client need. Working part-time means there are times when I am simply unavailable to my clients. There’s also the small problem of finding the time to actually work on my business, set goals and figure out how I’m going to get there.

In permaculture, there is a principle known as to catch and store energy. Yields harvested during times of high productivity help to get us through the lean times. In food production, this could mean using rocks on a south facing wall to trap heat from the sun during the day to be released during the cooler night when plants need to be kept warm. Or a gravity fed irrigation system.

On days when I wake up wondering how I’m going to fit everything in, I reframe my job as a means to catch and store cash to draw on later. But it also helps me to focus on energy flows in my business.

Which projects give me energy rather than forcing me to draw on my on reserves? What trends are occurring that I could jump on and benefit from the existing momentum? Rather than trying to push everything up hill.

Are you using your current situation to catch and store energy to use later? How can you use gravity to get you to where you want to go?

Today, tomorrow and the next day

What is your big, hairy, audacious goal? Your main objective? The thing that makes what you do today, tomorrow and the next day worth it?

If your dream is for your idea to become a movement, do you know what you will do tomorrow to bring you a step closer?

Big goals require consistent effort over time. They require persistence - doing the same thing over and over again. Daily practices.

Just because that social post of yours that got tonnes of engagement never eventuated into a sale, doesn’t mean it’s not worth celebrating. Instead of going to work everyday trying to make that million dollars, try celebrating the small wins that put you on the path. Because when the small wins happen again and again, that’s when they grow into bigger and bigger gains in your business.

Want to sell 5 million books? Where to start? On her blog over on Forbes, Brand Strategist Pia Silva talks about working backwards to find the task before the task, before the task.

Find out what you need to do tomorrow and again the next day.