How Much Planning Should You Really Do for a Creative Project?

How Much Planning Should You Really Do for a Creative Project?

Some projects, like building a house, cleaning a garage, or building a military helicopter can be scheduled in great detail from start to finish. 

Most projects cannot. 

So does that mean you should give up? Should you run your next project ad-hoc, dealing with issues as they arise and hoping for the best?

When the Struggle Gets Real, Remember to Have Fun

Baseball is a game of failure.

Failure to hit the ball. Failure to get on base. Failure to push a runner home. Over and over, play by play, someone, somewhere on the field is failing.

It’s not for lack of trying. It’s just the nature of the game. And, of course, there’s the flip side...

Some games see big hits, great plays, and few failures. Those games you usually win. Other games though, the failures accumulate and you wind up with a loss. Every once in a while, a real struggle sets in where every play seems to end up in error. Small failures build on each other until you see no chance to recover. Deep in your mind, you believe you are going to lose. And so, against all your beliefs and training, you stop trying; you just go through the motions until it’s game over.

Why the monologue on baseball? Because baseball (like any sport) is in microcosm of life.

You’ve faced failure countless times. Maybe you’ve swung at an opportunity and missed. Maybe you ran hard toward your goal, but just couldn’t reach it. Or, maybe you put all your effort into throwing a competitor out, but they somehow managed to slide under your tag and score.

Those are the times you feel the struggle; the times when winning feels too painful too bother trying. But you know you have to... try, that is. The question is, how?

Remember to Have Fun

Yes, have fun. This isn’t empty advice aimed at taking your mind off your problems, though it does help.

No, having fun is a call to action. A call to remember why you are playing the game in the first place. Having fun is actionable advice, reminding you not to take the game you play too seriously. It’s pain medicine administered to

  • prevent burnout,
  • spark creativity, and
  • avoid giving up.

So the next time struggle hits you hard, step back and remember why you started. Remember what made your game fun in the beginning, then go do that.

If you’re a photographer struggling to capture the perfect pic, take some silly photos of your kids, weird looking bird, or whatever. If you are an entrepreneur struggling to capture the next big idea that will skyrocket your company to success, draw some wacky doodles on a whiteboard and brainstorm how you can build and sell whatever you’ve created.

Then, when your mind is at ease and your smile returns, gently guide your mind back to the problem at hand. Transform the fun you had into a renewed energy and focus, leveraging the childlike sense of wonder that first captured your imagination, long ago, before the stakes got too real and everyone started taking themselves too seriously.

Remember to have fun.

About the Author


Mike Mehlberg

Chief Child in Charge

Mike loves having fun, but often forgets because he’s “too busy” helping entrepreneurs get productive and turn their ideas into reality. Come to think of it, he should probably go have some fun right now. That way, next time you contact him, he’ll be fresh, energized, and ready to rock and roll.

How to Negotiate Better by Creating New Possibilities

How to Negotiate Better by Creating New Possibilities

Negotiations can be tough.

They are often high pressure, high stakes situations with tight deadlines and demanding stakeholders. Opinions and interests can differ widely among parties, and strong emotions may come into play. When we are under this type of pressure, we often find ourselves stumped. Our thinking narrows and our creative muscles feel constrained.

The Principled Negotiation Method defined in Getting to Yes suggests several strategies to counteract this. The premise is that “The key to wise decision making lies in selecting from a great number and variety of options.”

Don't Get Caught in the Innovation Trap

Don't Get Caught in the Innovation Trap

So many of our ideas are built on the thoughts and insights of others. But no matter where they come from, not all ideas stick. Not all ideas generate revenue or increase market share. The ones that do succeed are the ones that solve specific customer problems.

If you’re spending all your time innovating and not listening, it’s just a matter of time before you’re no longer relevant. In fact, if you haven't asked yourself with the last six months what has changed about your customers, your markets, and your industry, you’ve taken your first step towards innovating solutions that nobody needs. 

Don’t get caught in the innovation trap. Listen first. Create and innovate later.