We all get stuck.
Sometimes using apps like Unstuck help this “state of stuck” last only for a short while. Sometimes meditation and exercise works. Sometimes asking yourself “What’s the next action?” does the trick.
And sometimes none of that stuff works.
The Horizons of Focus
So what do you do when you really can’t get unstuck? Ask yourself a deeper question. Instead of asking yourself “What’s the next action?” you should approach things by asking yourself “What’s the next horizon?”
Because the Horizons of Focus (as per David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology) is higher level thinking, and in order to move forward with what you really want…you need to reach higher.
The thing is, getting stuck might mean that you’ve plateaued. When that happens, the next action won’t propel you forward as far as you really need to go. Looking at the next horizon – beyond the runway and as far up as 50,000 feet – means you’ll stretch yourself more.
The Horizons of Focus are as follows:
- The Runway: Next Actions
- 10,000 Feet: Projects
- 20,000 Feet: Areas of Responsibility
- 30,000 Feet: Goals and Objectives (1–2 year goals)
- 40,000 Feet: Vision (3–5 year goals)
- 50,000 Feet: Purpose and Core Values
Usually these are listed in reverse order, and for good reason. It’s because we really should look at the 50,000 feet horizon and then drill down from there. That horizon is the one that features your “why,” which is really your guiding principle for your work and life. But what happens is we spend most of our time staying on The Runway and don’t venture high enough to really look to why we’re doing the things on our lists in the first place. The Horizons of Focus allow you to look beyond your day-to-day and connect and align your tasks and projects with what really matters.
Asking yourself “What’s the next action?” can be a lot more limiting than really going deep and asking yourself “What the next horizon?” The next horizon gives you far more long-term answers than the next action does.
Making The Connection
The Crucial Cube (based on The Eisenhower Matrix) allows me to really connect with the horizons of focus in my life. Here’s how it works:
- Draw the four quadrants as you would for The Eisenhower Matrix, but place a square in the center so that it intersects all of the quadrants (while still leaving room to write in each quadrant).
- In the center square (yes, it isn’t a cube…but for the sake of alliteration, I’m taking liberties here), I write down the project/goal/idea in a way that expresses how crucial it is for me to accomplish.
- Then I fill out the quadrants as I would The Eisenhower Matrix, using the center square (The Crucial Center) as the thing that informs all four quadrants.
Placing this “cube” in the centre draws focus, allowing me to start there and finish the outer realms in a way that helps me get unstuck that much quicker. It gets you looking at what you really want to achieve and still displays the supporting things you can do to get there effectively and efficiently.
If you’ve got a copy of The Productivityist Workbook, you’ll be able to review The Crucial Cube and complete an exercise as well.
One of the other ways you can connect with the next horizon is to regularly review them.
“Reviewing your horizons of focus on a regular basis ensures that you’re living your life on purpose and that you are on a path towards the life that you want to live.” - Steve Spring
Making sure that you look at these six horizons really will keep you moving forward in the right direction, rather than remain stuck in one place or moving madly in all directions.
The Next Horizon for Productivityist
Recently I started asking myself what the next horizon was for Productivityist. I felt as if there was room to grow and develop it in a way that really matters to me and to my readers. I also knew that by looking beyond the immediate horizon I'd be able to dsicover new ways to extend my reach to more people.
After putting out a survey for readers and Productivityist Newsletter subscribers, I compiled what people wanted and suggested I focus on at Productivityist. I spent a great deal of time thinking about the next actions. but I realized that thinking about the next horizon for Productivityist made a lot more sense to focus on. So I did that, and that’s when I came up with a game plan for the future of Productivityist.
As a result, several things are in the works that are going to take things to the next level:
- I’m having the site redesigned by the designer I regularly call on, Cody Keisler. The site’s new look and feel will support a quality reading experience and will scale very well as I continue to grow Productivityist as a company.
- I’m working on expanding my offerings to include online courses (finally) and more resources. Some of these offerings will be free, some will not.
- Productivityist is transitioning from a cute portmanteau I created to describe me and my work into a full-fledged company.
- As part of that shift, my wife is taking on an expanded role with Productivityist, handling all of the administrative stuff (finances, etc.) that I’m not nearly as good at. I’ll also be keeping my VA on board for other tasks that I need to have done, but I may shift that over in the near future to someone who I can meet with locally.
- I’m no longer doing any work that falls outside of my area of expertise. No more workshops or written-for-hire articles that have little or nothing to do with personal productivity, task management, or anything related to the space that I dwell in. I’ll still write pieces for Medium and LinkedIn, but those pieces will be related to my work and my life (and hopefully will resonate with others as well).
- I’m focusing on less stuff so I can make better stuff. That means leaving some ongoing projects behind, but the things I’ll deliver as result of “quitting” and thinking more “long view” will be much better for doing so.
With that in mind, there will be fewer articles posted between now and the launch of the new and look and feel to Productivityist. I'll post [a new piece on Thursday July 3rd to coincide with my 40th birthday], and then weekly posts every Thursday until the launch, which is slated for July 31st. I’m really looking forward to the next horizon of my work and my life – and I can’t wait to share what I’ve got in store with all of you.
So the next time you’re stuck and don’t know what to do to make progress, look past the next action and onto the next horizon. It’s a tougher question to ask, but it’s a more rewarding one in the end.