Analysis Paralysis. How I Finally Started An Idea 20 Years In The Making.

Analysis paralysis or paralysis by analysis is the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome.

A few years after I got out of college and realized that any dream of being in the movie business was all but over, I started to jot down short synopsis of movie ideas I would think of. At the time I didn’t really think about how or what purpose they served, but I wanted to keep track of my ideas. My entire life I’ve always seen life through a movie like lens, so I was always thinking of cool ideas that would make great movies. Unfortunately that’s all I had ever done though…come up with some great ideas. I always felt that maybe someday I’d figure out what to do with those ideas, but in the meantime, they collected digital dust.

There was one particular idea I had that I could never stop thinking about that to this day, I always thought it would be a blockbuster hit, and rarely would a day go by that I did not think about it. 20 years I’ve had that idea. It’s evolved quite a bit of course. As I’ve gotten older, I started to get more serious about doing something with it. At first I thought I’d write a book. Why not? These days you can self-publish, and I could have a tangible accomplishment; something I could sell or give to friends and family to read. But I could never get my head right about how to write it as a book. The biggest problem was, I’m not a big reader. How can someone effectively write a book, that barely likes to read them? I’d research tools, software, strategies, trying to find a way to get me started. Excitement and motivation would come and go, life would get in the way. Progress stifled. Paralyzed by over analysis.

I suppose there’s no set blueprint for how to break through with a big idea. For me it was the combination of years of planning, and a few seeds late in life that put me over the top. The first was courtesy of a completely random conversation with a colleague of mine. While on a video shoot for my company in Nebraska, I and Playfish Media, a film crew I hired for the project (who by the way are fantastic, highly recommended), were driving to our shoot when I felt motivated to share my book idea. Jillian Suleski, the owner, and someone who’s opinion matters on the subject matter, was really taken by the idea which was great. But more importantly she asked me a very important question that as I look back, I realize may very well be the turning point.

Well, when you think of the story in your head, do you see a book or a movie?

Something as simple as that really drove it home for me. I got so caught up on having to write this story as a book. I just felt that made more sense. Self-publishing is at our finger tips. A tangible deliverable I could give to people to read. Screenplays and Hollywood seemed like such a fantasy world to me. Why write a screenplay that would just collect dust? Jillian went on to share how in this day and age, there’s more opportunity then ever when it comes to screenwriters. Pitchfests, contests…not to mention streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon all vying for great concepts and ideas. It’s a different world. I was hooked. Of course I saw my story as a movie in my head. I had to stop denying the path that made sense for me.

My excitement and motivation was at an all time high. So what did I do next? I fell right back into my analysis paralysis. Rather then dive into writing, I researched all the avenues a screenwriter could submit to. I researched how to write a screenplay, how to do it right. Weeks went by, excitement/motivation died down again. Ugh. But this time I was determined to not stay trapped. I knew I was doing this to myself again. I needed help. I needed structure, guidance, and accountability.

We live in a day and age where there is so much opportunity at our fingertips. And for me, the Screenwriters University was exactly what I needed to break through years of non-action. Memorial Day weekend cooped up in the house with the wifey was the last step. She not only thought it was a good idea, she implored that I take it. That was all I needed. I signed up, and hoped that this was the kick in the ass I needed.

I’m a week away from finishing the class, and in the past month, I can’t even believe how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Everything is coming so easy to me now that I honestly think this is something I was born to do. I’m not so naive to think that I may actually sell a screenplay someday, but it won’t come without trying. 21 years ago I turned down going to film school. I think about that day all the time. What if?

But now I’ve got a second chance. A second chance at the very least to accomplish something I’ve waited a long time to do. Write my movie. I’ve broken free and I’m off and running now. And if I can do it, anyone can. Whatever your passion, gift or bucket list item is, never stop trying to figure out how to make it happen. Don’t let the details paralyze you from action like it did me for so long.

Coming soon to a theater near you (be sure to hit play on my trailer music as you read the synopsis!)

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What’s Your What If?

Last night I drove a lot of miles away from the hustle and bustle I normally fight through on a daily basis to coach my son at his baseball game, a little town called Granite Falls. It’s about 50 miles north and east of Seattle and off the beaten path. I arrived with my son, and as they warmed up on one baseball field, I watched as the high school team wrapped up their practice on an adjacent field. It was classic small town America. They had some rock-n-roll playing as they finished up their hitting drills, and I peered up to the scoreboard to see a sign that said “2006 State Champs”. I thought about how cool it must have been for this small town to celebrate such a thing. I thought about what it must be like to live in this town away from everything…knowing everyone, a simpler life. And how much I wanted someday to have that.

22 years ago I was at a crossroads in my life at college. I was going through motions, not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was blindly taking college courses without a true sense of what career I wanted. But the fact was, I did know. I wanted to make movies. My whole life was defined by the art of movies. Watching them, studying them, the dialogue, the music, all of it. I loved writing, I was pretty good at it. I knew that was what I was born for, but it seemed so celebrity to me. So out of reach. But on whim, I applied to a fairly significant film school in Chicago just for the hell of it. My grades were terrible, so I had no shot there, but I poured my heart into an essay and sent it away. I didn’t think it had any chance of getting past anyone, nor did I imagine I could even afford to make it work.

I was shocked to find that it did get past someone. Not only that, but I got in. My memories of that day are a little faded, but I remember being quite surprised. I remember taking a week or two to mull it over. I remember allowing the fear of such a monumental shift cloud my judgement. I remember the comfort of staying the course wash over me. 22 years later, just about every year, I wonder what would have happened had I found the courage to go for it.

Life can’t be about what ifs, I’ve learned that. I have a good life now, 2 amazing boys, kick ass wifey, great job, and I live in an amazing place. But I can’t help thinking about that particular what if. Seeing this small town last night triggered a vision that I hope is still within my grasp later in life. I want to live in a small town. I want to coach a small town high school baseball team. I want our neighbor Mrs. Simmons to stop by and drop off one of her killer apple pies just because.

And I want to write. So many concepts and ideas I’ve sat on, fearful of writing due to the sheer commitment and dedication it takes to see something like that through. I know I have it within me to actually write something that could sell. I may not get behind a camera anytime soon at this point in my life, but I’ve got killer stories to tell, and they are desperate to get on paper.

And what better time to pull the trigger than now? Countless screenwriting events and venues to submit work to, and more importantly, the rise of content providers like Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Studios…the world is opening up to give more people the opportunity to submit their work.

I normally write about topics with calls to action, or lists to help people with marketing, etc. But today, I just wrote. Maybe the first step in holding myself accountable to actually kick my ass in gear to get writing more. Maybe because there’s others that might read and can relate.

Or maybe Red said it best:

Decision Fatigue. Yep, it’s a thing.

Wifey: “What do you want for dinner?”
Me: “I don’t know, whatever you want.”

or

Me: “What do you want to watch?”
Wifey: “Whatever. You decide.”

The above are fairly common occurrences in our household, and I would imagine in many others. There’s been plenty of instances where we’d frustrate each other because neither of us could make a decision for such seemingly simple decisions. So why is it that I can’t just make a decision around what I want to eat or watch at any given time?

Because by the time I get home from work, I don’t want to make any more damn decisions. I’m decisioned out. And it wasn’t until a few months ago that I learned that decision fatigue was actually a “thing”. Decision fatigue is officially described as:

In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making.

Just think for a second how many choices are available to you in this day and age when it comes to anything in life. Food, medicine, technology, it’s massive. We’re forced to make a tremendous amount of decisions in quantity and quality every day. It takes it’s toll.

In my case (and many others), decision fatigue can actually lead to decision avoidance. All day at work I make decision after decision, and by the time I get home, I just want to turn my brain off when it comes to having to make any sort of decision no matter how simple it may be. Not only that, but the quality of the decisions made can deteriorate over the course of a day. Case in point is this crazy study about how prisoners who were scheduled earlier had a higher percentage chance of early release.

It all can seem easy to just write off as bullshit, but I actually think there is a lot of truth to how this all works out. Once I learned about psychology and research behind how decision making effects our lives, I immediately began to think of what I could do to better handle it all. Everyone will tell you rest, eat well, exercise, etc. All the things we should be doing anyway. I’ve taken it a step further at work be better delegating decision making. You have to trust your team, and the people you work with and extend decision making power as much as you can. I’ve found by doing so, it lessons the amount of decisions I have to make in any given day and increases the quality of decisions I make.

Below is a great TED talk called The Paradox of Choice that dives a bit deeper into all of this in an interesting way and is worth the watch.

 

Living Life Against The Grain

I’m not sure if the term really applies to this blog post, but I’m going to go with it anyway. One of the things I’ve really strived for later in life is figuring out ways to better use my time. Time is really our biggest luxury. Money’s great and all, but time is what it’s all about. Time with people you love, time to do the things you enjoy, just having extra time in general.

One of the biggest satisfactions I have right now is when I drive to work. For the first 18 years or so of my professional life, I easily averaged at least a 45-60 minute commute to and from work. That’s roughly 2 hours a day just traveling to my job. I’ve been fortunate enough to find an opportunity where my commute is now 20 minutes each way because I’m going in the opposite direction of traffic. I peer over to the other side of the freeway and see a parking lot and I absolutely revel in happiness that I am not stuck in that anymore. I literally have an extra day of the week to work with. I took less money for sure, but the added time is worth it.

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8 Life Lessons I Learned After 40

For the first few years of my blog I wrote exclusively about digital marketing, social media and technology. As I got older, and my career shifted into more of a managerial/operational mode, I didn’t feel as motivated to write about those things anymore and started to want to write more about whatever inspired me. It was the only way I could find the motivation to continue writing. As I close in on the first year of my 40s, I’ve thought a lot about what I’ve learned in my life. For whatever reason, when you turn 40, you all of sudden become “wise” and “introspective”. Perhaps it’s the growing feeling of mortality, but regardless, I wanted to write a blog post about the things I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older. I asked myself, what top things do I wish I could somehow have taught my younger self. And these 8 nuggets are the result of that. Enjoy and use at your own risk.

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