A Perfect Formula for Getting Anything Done

A Perfect Formula for Getting Anything Done

Applicable to business owners and writers alike, this idea from a leading business consultant gave Barbara the motivational push she needed when she knew she had to change directions as a writer to retain her enthusiasm for her work.

BUSINESS CONSULTANT Patricia Katz, who is also a painter, published a wonderful newsletter for twenty years called PAUSE—The Voice of Sanity in A Speed Crazed World. (Visit her site for archived ezines and current online blog posts.)  I’ve long found her perspective on life and business uplifting and thought-provoking. In one issue, Pat wrote about a vacation she had taken to Paris that included daily painting lessons where members of the group she was traveling with had only an hour or two to find a subject before sketching and painting it. If one dithered too long about what to paint in the first place, there wasn’t time to create anything of value, she said, adding that she began to think of the process of doing this as “Scan, focus, commit, begin.”

 Scan the possibilities.

 Focus in on a few of the most promising angles.

 Commit to the most compelling option.


I read that and thought, wow, what a perfect formula for business success or any individual project we might be considering! In fact, this was just the motivational push I needed to hear at that time because I had been dithering for months as I tried to figure out how to use my lifetime of resource material for new books. I finally concluded that, although I had enough material for half a dozen new business books, I was no longer interested in writing about business. After forty years of this kind of writing, I needed to change directions as a writer to retain my enthusiasm for my work.

After scanning all the life writing I’d done that had never been published, I decided I wanted to write and self-publish two memoirs for starters. The muse suddenly struck in November of 2009 when I committed myself to the most compelling option I had—the story about my life with a drummer named Harry that I had been thinking about for four years. During that time, I had been telling myself that I didn’t have time to write another book for so long that it had become habit, but something happened one day that woke my muse.

By then, I had scanned the possibilities for what to write about and had focused on a particular idea, but I was still having a hard time getting started. We all need a bit of encouragement at times to pursue a new idea or goal and, thankfully, I got this push from a fellow author who had just published his own memoir. My phone conversations with him, and the email exchanges that followed, literally lit my fire!

As soon as I committed myself to writing and publishing my first non-business book, there was no stopping me. In just four months’ time, this book grew from the gleam of an idea to a book in hand. Of course it wasn’t as easy as I’ve just made it sound, but I’ve detailed this story in a PDF document, Four Months on a Tank of Gas—The Secret Life of a New Memoirist.

If you’ve ever achieved a special goal, you know how good I felt when I held my first self-published memoir in hand. If you’re still making excuses for why you still haven’t done something your heart has been leading you to do, I hope this story will spur you forward. If you’ve simply been dithering too long about something, NOW is the perfect time to put Patricia’s simple formula to work for you: “Scan, focus, commit, begin.” It worked for me, and I bet it will work for you too.

2022 Update: I’m still using this formula today. Check my BOOKS page for my second memoir and new book in progress (a different twist on a memoir: a novel built on a true life experience).


The Book that Changed the Direction of My Writing Life. An example of how taking just one step in a new direction can be life-changing.

Be a Fearless Dreamer and Reinvent Your Life at Any Age! Inspirational thoughts and research about the importance of dreaming and changing your life or work if it’s not all you want it to be.

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