Figuring Out Where the Magic Happens
Figuring Out Where the Magic Happens

If you have never seen the South Park episode with the “Underpants Gnomes,” I need to fill you in. The little gnomes have been stealing underpants. When the character most affected finally catches them in the act and follows them to their underground home, he finds out this has all been part of a business strategy. “Phase One: Steal Underpants. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: PROFIT!”

Phase Two not only never connects why stealing underpants would (or could?) ever results in PROFIT! but they never notice that missing phase two is problematic. They just see, “Steal Underpants… PROFIT!”

A very well-known mathematics cartoon shows two men at a blackboard. The instructor points to center of the student’s work that reads, “Then a Miracle Occurs,” and says, “I think you should be more explicit here in step two.”

(view the original S. Harris cartoon, displayed on his site [image 7 on page 1])

I have been thinking about how to achieve goals, how to prioritize tasks competing for my attention, or how to launch new ventures without failing in others. And I realized I could fall into the trap of, “DO ALL THE THINGS!” as my personal Step One. I will never get to “Profit!” if I leave out Step Two. One problem with “DO ALL THE THINGS!” is that it can easily spiral into a plaintive, “Do all the things?” followed by a resigned whimper.

(Note re: Do All the Things: The original blog post is titled, “This is Why I’ll Never be an Adult” and is written by Allie Brosh on her blog, Hyperbole and a Half. The original image is for “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS” which devolves later into “Clean ALL the things?”)

But What are my Step Two Tasks?

Here’s where the new ideas have started to form. The “use my strengths to build additional habits” is an old idea that I’ve been working for years. But what about this “Step One: Idea; Step Two: ___; Step Three: Profit!” notion?

I need more Step Two elements in order to get to my goals. And this is when I have to start to prioritize all the Step Two options. Sure, I could be making more flowered hair clips or painting or sewing a coin bra for bellydance or cleaning out the freezer. But is my Sweetie waiting for me to design a postcard? Are the poets waiting for me to complete my assignment for the publication that comes out at Coronation? Do I need to work on this spreadsheet or this website update or this hand-sewing on my linen costumes? Or should I go running for 30 minutes?

Step Two is important. Step Two candidates abound in excess. Step Two Priorities are now my biggest challenge. Which Goal, which “Step three: Profit!” am I working towards, and which people are affected by my success or failure on this step?

Apparently I cannot actually DO ALL THE THINGS. But I can start to improve *which* “Step three: PROFIT!” that I’m working on at the moment. Then I can prioritize the various Step Two actions I need to take.

I think my theme right now has just expanded to include “Step Two.”

(Note about Themes: 2012=DANCE, 2013=FOCUS, 2014=CREATE. I think I just added 5775=STEP TWO.)