I’ve just spent a full year turning my self-management systems into a product, email course, and digital downloads. Doing so was an exercise in learning everything I could about product design, creation, marketing, feedback, and how to put stuff together to benefit someone else. I could have learned these things working on someone else’s product, but I felt compelled to build, and I reached for what as at hand. What I built was Life’s Battle Plan and the Tactical Chronograph.
See, when I created these products, they were one — and I hoped to turn it into a premium Kickstarter by now: a creamy paper version of a life planner where people could think with their pencils to make an annual plan. They’d then have a book of accompanying agendas, usable on a monthly basis to keep their scope narrow. Yet the slim agendas still had the space to gather all the thoughts that don’t get entered into their phones. I believe in paper agendas and it’s not a rocket science product to reinvent, but I did my own little twist.
I sent out the planner and three months of the agendas to my beta testers (lesson learned: create a not-your-market-obstacle to purchase, especially if the free product is costly; casual curiosity and social support/flattery were bounce points). But before the end of the three months, one of my beta users got back to me asking when April’s agenda would be ready.
Thus was born the monthly agenda-by-PDF subscription that struck me as sense-making, and with that, a new design cycle. But that also separated Life’s Battle Plan into two products: a life planner for people facing change when they need to sort their options for the long term, and agendas for people who like novel structures and have a need to keep it all on one place — not flipping back and forth between pages, different notebooks, and devices when it came to planning, journalling, and keeping track.
So I came up the name Tactical Chronograph, kept the moniker “Life’s Battle Plan” to mark it as part of a suite, and promoted it to my beta testers and anyone else intrigued by agendas, #bujo (bullet journalling), and productivity. (And I chose creative-operational men between 25–44 as the customer avatar.)
Now that a full year of offering the Tactical Chronograph for free-for-feedback has passed, I’m turning it into downloadable bundles at various prices. I validated what I needed to do to build a better product; now, it’s find product-market fit, paid.
So that means no more dedicated Tactical Chronograph email every month. And that means no more Welcome message needed. Only a merge block so that any message I send people could have a paragraph just for those who buy, use, and love (or hate and critique) my agendas.
So, what to do with the Story of Why?
The section below used to be what the people on my Tactical Chronograph list would get in the Welcome email, after an explanation of where to pick up their downloads at first signup.
Everything we do when we face forward has a bit of backward-facing in it. We like to solve our own problems and seek others who can relate. I thought sharing my original struggle with my subscribers — now you — puts a bit of humanity to what’s thought of as an innately-talented-and-extroverted class of people: entrepreneurs. We might be anything but.
This is where it all started, in case you were curious:
Why did I create first the workbook?
Because wanting to become more focussed and effective was why I created my own Creative Vision that became “the LBP.”
I was sitting on my back patio one summer in the afternoon sun (yes, day after day), reading management books and wondering how I was ever gonna do all the things I wanted to do. “I used to want to do this, I still wanna do that, but there’s a conflict,” “how do I get the money, how do I find the time…,” basically overthinking it. How I could ever pick “just one” like everyone told me to — and why was my life not on track like it should have been? (Feeling a little sorry for myself — ☑️)
This frustration really bothered me, so I wrote it all down and organized it. Then I brought it into a community youth entrepreneurship organization and met with Ernie, one of the business coaches.
He took a good look at it, and then he looked up at me over the wire rims of his glasses and said,
“I think you’re confused.”
Well, yes — but this is a good step to get un-confused, right? Because if I walked in without that document and just spouted off All The Things I wanted to do, it might’ve been worse than confused! It might have been dreamer- level discreditable.
Then Ernie said: the best business to start is one that you have at hand, quickly, and then let it grow organically from there. He told me about a little company called Urban Seedling that was doing a residential service for urban agriculture— something I was already blogging about at Big City Little Homestead. He encouraged me to niche my AirBnb and develop more in that area.
The following year, I hired Urban Seedling to help me convert my driveway to a green one, something I’d always wanted to do, and I designed it myself. And with that, one of my two companies was born, out of my casual little blog, promoting and consulting on native landscaping, green driveways, and bird strike prevention. It aligns with skills and knowledge I had on hand, with something I wanted to do that has meaning: regreen the city, and prevent biodiversity collapse.
That’s an example of what can come from getting clearer about ALL the things you want to do. And it whetted my appetite to keep pursuing what I now call All The Things. And wrangling them is what Life’s Battle Plan is about.
Life’s Battle Plan is being re-released in a second edition as a PDF Workbook next week (December 21st, just in time for Christmas, if you or someone you love stated an intention to use the holidays for reflection). Order it in the Shop here.
I also created a walk-through version by email that anyone can take. All you need is a journal or notebook. It begins this weekend, on December 15th or 16th, so that you can reflect and plan in time for New Year’s. Go to this page and subscribe, and you’ll get Day 1 right away.
You can use the output of the e-mail course to populate the Workbook for posterity and future changes, as you might not want to carry that paper notebook around with you for the next 2 years.
What I promise is this: do the homework, and it will organize all the things you want to be, do, or have into a meaningful, actionable plan. You’ll be oriented and ready for 2019 and beyond.
You’ll come out with greater clarity, commitment, and congruency — a satisfying well-roundedness that connects your livelihood, relationships, interests, fun, and long-term vision. And with clarity, commitment, and congruency, you will earn results, wisdom, and integrity.
By the way, my company’s name is Projectica. Its mission is kinda badass. I’m not a productivity guru, and I don’t want to be. I consider my tools a scaffold and you can do what you want with it. I’m just someone who thinks creatively with a process. I want to enable more people, especially those who face extra internal and external challenges, to increase their capacity to do great and grounded work.
I hope you’ll join the course, or check out my other projects and products.
You can join my mailing list here. If you’re up for a user interview — or have a great story to tell me about procrastination!–that link’s good, too. You can book directly in my calendar. And if you’re looking for a UX researcher or product manager or designer, I’m looking to learn more and be hired.