Have you ever wanted to start something – a project, business, or task – and couldn’t figure out where to start? Me, too. But lately, I’ve been asking myself a simple question to help me start a project, business or even an article when things become overwhelming. This simple exercise has helped me re-focus, cut out information overload and make more progress on my goals, and it’s helped many of my coaching clients, too. I want to share it with you so you can cut through all the noise and finally get started on the business you’ve been dreaming about.
How to Take Action Using This One Simple Question
I used this strategy to kick start my eCourse, my blog, and even this article. I call it the MVA exercise, and it will help you work your way out of overwhelm and actually start. See, most of the things that we let hold us back from starting our projects or our businesses are made bigger by our own minds.
- We think we don’t know where to start because it seems like there’s just so much to do, when in reality we know exactly where to start.
- We start to doubt projects before we’ve even started them because we take in too much information and it gets overwhelming.
- We second-guess whether our ideas will really work because other things compete for our attention.
The funny thing is, we’ll never stop second-guessing ourselves or stop doubting ourselves until we prove that our ideas will work, and we can’t prove our ideas will work unless we act on them. That’s where the MVA exercise comes in. MVA stands for “Minimum Viable Action”. You’ve probably heard of other “Minimum Viable” things before: MVP (minimum viable product if you’re an entrepreneur, or minimum viable population if you’re a scientist). Here’s how I’ve adapted the MV model to get started on things:
When I have a project I want to start and I feel overwhelmed, I sit down and ask myself: what is the minimum viable action I can take on this project to get started?
In other words: What can I do right now to move this project forward? For example, when I was in the planning stages of Unsettle, I remember panicking. I had the idea for it, but I doubted whether it would work. My mind was racing with the overwhelm of guest blogging, monetizing, building an email list, writing schedules, daily habits, success routines, social media, conferences, technique, split testing, landing pages… Then I realized that I was jumping the gun. I hadn’t even registered a domain yet. Social media, split testing and guest blogging were challenges for Future Sarah. I was borrowing my future challenges to prove to myself that my current self didn’t have it in her to proceed. So, I stopped. I took a deep breath. And I asked myself: what was my MVA? What was one thing I could do right at that moment to move my idea forward? In this case, I decided that my MVA was to write my “About” page. That’s one thing that I could do at that time within the next hour to get the ball rolling and the momentum started. Of course, your entire project can’t be finished right now. That’s not the point of this exercise. But every single project has a Minimum Viable Action. Every single project, business, and task has something that you can do right now (or this evening, or tomorrow morning) to move it forward.
- If you’ve been thinking of starting an Etsy shop, what is one thing you can do right now to move forward? Could you sign up for an account, choose a shop name, make a prototype of your product?
- If you’ve been thinking of starting a blog, what is one thing you can do right now to move forward? Could you register your domain name, write your about page, write your first article, reserve your Twitter account?
- If you want to become a freelancer, what is one thing you can do right now to move forward? Could you send one pitch, enroll in a freelance course, find one event in your area to attend?
Don’t get weighed down with the future to-do list related to the project. Don’t procrastinate by “researching” or questioning yourself. Just start with that simple MVA.
The Best Part About the MVA Exercise?
I noticed something wonderful as I began to use the MVA exercise in my own projects: There is always a minimum viable action. After you finish your first MVA, you can move onto the next MVA. The MVAs compound and build upon each other. After I wrote the “About” page for Unsettle, I asked myself again: What was one thing I could do right at that moment to move my idea forward?
- I could choose and register my domain name.
And after I chose and registered my domain name, again… What was one thing I could do right at that moment to move my idea forward?
- I could load WordPress into my web hosting service.
And after I loaded WordPress into my web hosting service, again… What was one thing I could do right at that moment to move my idea forward? You get the idea. So, Unsettler. What is one thing you can do right now to move your project forward? What is your MVA?