How to step into uncertainty, make progress, and find flow

Uncertainty makes it harder to make progress and find flow in meaningful things. In easy conditions, progress is a straight line toward an end point. But when there’s uncertainty, progress is more like a feedback loop. The key is to focus on what you control and let go of what you do not.

In episode 68 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) When faced with the unknown, you can either take action or no action, do something or do nothing.

2) The difference between uncertainty and ambiguity and why they both cause frustration.

3) The Paradox of Control and how we create anxiety.

4) How good anxiety works for you and bad anxiety works against you.

5) The Progress Principle and ways to leverage it.

6) Progress is a feedback loop when you face the unknown.

7) How to step into uncertainty to make progress and find flow:

Tip 1 – Define the right problem or challenge to tackle before you get into solution mode.

Tip 2 – Break up the problem or challenge into subproblems or smaller challenges.

Tip 3 – Set clear, daily goals to make consistent progress, get immediate feedback and exercise control. (Stage 1 of flow cycle.)

Tip 4 – Disengage from the problem or challenge and let yourself imagine, daydream and mind-wander with intention. (Stage 2 of flow cycle.)

Tip 5 – Zoom in on the task at hand and find the sweet spot where the challenge is the right match for your current skill set. (Stage 3 of flow cycle.)

Tip 6 – Zoom out from the problem, take a break and rest. (Stage 4 of flow cycle.)

8) Benefits of the Flow Cycle

9) Benefits of the Progress Loop

10) I’m making an online course currently titled The Busyness Trap: How to Escape Overload and Focus on What Matters. To get updates on the course launch and registration process, subscribe to my e-newsletter or The Incrementalist YouTube channel or podcast.

To read the transcript of this episode, go here.

To listen to the podcast, click here and subscribe

Watch the video on The Incrementalist YouTube channel. And subscribe to the show to keep making big changes in small steps.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps busy professionals and business owners reduce overwhelm, turn their ideas into action, and focus on what matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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Goal Setting to Make Your Best Year Ever

Setting goals – when done right – puts you on the path to a more desired life. In goal setting, do not make the finish line the main thing or lose sight of the journey.

In episode 67 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) By breaking your big goals down into mini goals, you achieve small wins that build your confidence, grow your knowledge, and keep you on an upward spiral.

2) Goals are spotlights pointing you in a certain direction. They are not always your ultimate destination point.

3) The key differences between extrinsic goals and intrinsic goals.

4) Why it’s better to focus on goals you control, like your daily habits and actions.

5) The benefits of embracing failure as a chance to learn, instead of a negative experience to avoid at all costs.

6) Why you need to choose or design the ideal environment and not rely on your willpower.

7) Fear of hope is a root cause for why we resist change.

8) I’m creating an online course currently titled The Busyness Trap: How to Escape Overload and Focus on What Matters. To get updates on the course launch and registration process, subscribe to my e-newsletter or The Incrementalist YouTube channel or podcast.

To read the transcript of this episode, go here.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel, The Incrementalist – A Productivity Show. And subscribe to the show to keep making big changes in small steps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps busy professionals and business owners reduce overwhelm, turn their ideas into action, and focus on what matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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A Bias for Action Can Make You Fail

A bias for action can help you do big things and reach big goals. In big projects, it’s vital in the delivery phase, which should be fast. But it hurts the planning phase, where it’s better to be slow.

In episode 66 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) A bias for action feels productive but can also backfire and cause big failure in big projects.

2) Every big project has 2 basic phases: Planning and Delivery.

3) In their book, How Big Things Get Done, authors Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner note that 99.5 percent of megaprojects go over budget, over schedule, fail to deliver promised results, or have some combination of these.

4) Failed projects use the Think Fast, Act Slow approach (rushed, superficial planning before project delivery). Successful projects apply the Think Slow, Act Fast pattern (careful, precise planning before project delivery).

5) To do big things, apply the Think Slow, Act Fast approach with these 5 action tips:

i) Tip #1 – Commit to not committing.

ii) Tip #2 – Think from right to left.

iii) Tip #3 – Tinker, test, and experiment.

iv) Tip #4 – Figure out what’s your LEGO – your basic building block – and keep adding one block to another.

v) Tip #5 – Take the outside view, not just the inside view.

6) Why the significance of planning is often downplayed: The Principle of the Hiding Hand and the Theory of Beneficial Ignorance or Providential Ignorance.

You don’t need to be deep in delivery mode to spark creative ideas. Use the think slow, act fast pattern to plan carefully, deliver effectively, and get the best results in big projects.

To learn more by reading the transcript, go here.

To listen to A Bias for Action Can Make You Fail, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist podcast at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel, The Incrementalist – A Productivity Show. And subscribe to the show to keep making big changes in small steps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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Solitude: The Overlooked Path to Move Through Loneliness

Solitude is a chosen state of being alone. It is not the same as interpersonal loneliness or existential loneliness, which may lead to an early death or death by suicide in extreme cases.

Solitary confinement and social outcasting are some of the worst forms of punishment. In psychoanalysis, Object Relations Theory basically states humans are social beings who need to have rewarding relationships to be fulfilled. And yet, the need for alone time is as vital to human life as the need for social interaction.

When you practice solitude, you will be better able to move through loneliness with skill, rather than try to end it unskillfully at all costs.

In episode 65 of The Incrementalist, you will learn:

1) The main differences between solitude and loneliness

2) The key differences between loners and introverts, who both enjoy solitude

3) The reason extroverts might need solitude more than loners and introverts

4) The four key benefits of solitude:

i) Intentionality

ii) Intellectuality

iii) Simplicity

iv) Self-sufficiency

5) Easy ways to practice solitude in daily life

To learn more by reading the transcript, go here.

To listen to Solitude: The Overlooked Path to Move Through Loneliness, click here. Subscribe to The Incrementalist podcast at Apple Podcasts or other apps.

Watch the video on our YouTube channel, The Incrementalist – A Productivity Show. And subscribe to the show to keep making big changes in small steps.

# # #

Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

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Why People Die by Suicide and What We Can Do to Prevent It

Suicide is a leading cause of death and can be mitigated with suicide prevention steps and open discussions on mental health. September is National Suicide Prevention Month, with September 10 designated as World Suicide Prevention Day and the week (September 10 to 16) focused on building suicide awareness and reducing stigma around death by suicide.

Dr. Rory O’ Connor, a Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Glasgow, where he heads the Suicide Behaviour Research Laboratory, notes that it’s a common and harmful myth that asking someone if he has suicidal thoughts will plant the idea into his head. Rather, asking this difficult question could instead lead the person to get the help needed.

In his book, When It is Darkest: Why People Die by Suicide and What We Can Do to Prevent It, Dr.  O’ Connor points out:

1. Suicide rates increase in warmer months, not colder months.

2. Sudden and unexplained improvement in mood – in a person who has suffered a depressive episode – might be a warning sign.

3. A major setback or loss in status or relationships can trigger suicidal thoughts, even if the person has not previously experienced depression or other mental health issues.

4. Suicide risk is affected by a wide range of conditions, including individual factors (like biology and brain health) and environmental factors (like cultural and social contexts).

5. The motivational model of suicide behavior involves three parts: the premotivational phase, the motivational phase, and the volitional phase. Not everyone who has suicidal thoughts in the premotivational phase moves to the motivational phase (where they have suicidal ideation or intention formulation) or the volitional phase (where they engage in suicidal acts or behavior, which may be fatal or non-fatal).

6. People with high social perfectionism have thin psychological skin such that when the bows and arrows of life hit them, their skin is much more likely to be pierced metaphorically. Thus, they are more inclined to feel defeated or humiliated and begin to have suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

7. People end their life to manage unbearable pain when they see no other solution to end the pain.

Unwanted social isolation and chronic loneliness have a dramatic, negative effect on a person’s mental wellness, emotional well-being and physical health. But choosing to engage in alone time through solitude can be therapeutic and restorative. Depending on the circumstances, solitude can be one effective route to deal with loneliness and the mental health issues that accompanies it.

To learn more, check out my video, Solitude: The Overlooked Path to Move Through Loneliness on The Incrementalist YouTube channel. Or listen to the podcast episode or read the transcript.

While it’s essential to have support from loved ones, friends, confidantes and professionals when dealing with suicidal thoughts, it’s equally important to be able to draw from one’s own inner reserves to navigate tough times. Reaching out for support starts with processing your own thoughts and feelings and knowing when you really need help.

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Dyan Williams is a solo lawyer who practices U.S. immigration law and legal ethics at Dyan Williams Law PLLC. She is also a productivity coach who helps working parents, lawyers, small business owners and other busy people turn their ideas into action, reduce overwhelm, and focus on what truly matters. She is the author of The Incrementalist: A Simple Productivity System to Create Big Results in Small Steps.

SUBSCRIBE           CONTACT