“The hardest to learn was the least complicated”
— Indigo Girls
Once a year I spend a couple of days working on a collage about my business. Nothing fancy, just a pile of pictures and phrases cut from old magazines and glued onto some poster board.
When my business coach first suggested this activity, I have to admit that I thought it was kind of a waste of time. But, she assured me it would help me visualize where I wanted to go, so I gave it a shot.
In Year One I was very systematic. I looked for pictures that represented who I wanted to be; I looked for pictures that represented the stuff I wanted to buy; I looked for pictures that represented the things I wanted to do and the places I wanted to go. I organized it neatly into different sections, leaving room in the middle for a big picture of me and my family.
It came out OK. The process wasn’t very much fun however, and the final product, while a fairly accurate depiction of my wants, was uninspired. I hung it on the wall and never looked at it again.
Year Two was more of the same. A boring struggle to get it done — so my coach would leave me alone and I’d have something to put on the wall next to Year One’s masterpiece.
In Year Three however, everything changed. Instead of trying to figure out which pictures I needed as I thumbed through my magazines,I decided to just choose the ones that made me feel good when I looked at them.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards on stage; a puppy lying on a green lawn chewing a rubber ball; a man climbing up the side of a huge redwood tree. No explanation, no logic, no concern for how it all fit together. I simply created a pile of images that felt good.
When it came time to arrange the photos I did the same thing: I just laid things out wherever it felt right.
Year Three was different from previous years in two very important ways:
1. The final product was much better. Somehow, by shutting off the logical side of my brain, I was better able to accomplish my goal — create a compilation of images that keep me focused and inspire me whenever I look at them.
2. The process itself was a lot more fun. Sitting down with a pile of magazines and just picking things that look good is as enjoyable as it is effective. Once I relieve myself of the burden of having to explain (or even understand) why I choose one picture and not another, it becomes an interesting adventure to watch and see what my subconscious reaches for.
Believe it or not, this is exactly the way I recommend you choose topics for your newsletter.
Not systematically, not logically, not based on ticking through some list of topics that needs to be covered by somebody claiming to be an expert in your industry. Instead, I recommend that you do just two things:
1. Keep a list of “future topics” somewhere. Whenever a good idea pops into your head, write it down.
2. When it comes time to write this month’s newsletter, reach into your pile and grab the one that grabs you.
If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll find the process easier and the result more inspired.