Some of you might have already read about ‘The Four B2S Principles’ briefly explained here on this website.
The Four B2S Principles form the crux of the Big to Small Thinking Framework, so if you are not familiar with it, I would highly encourage you to give it a quick read. Besides, it will give you a greater appreciation for the contents of this blog post.
All caught up? Good. Let’s dive in.
You may be wondering, how exactly do these principles play out in real life? How do they relate to each other? How do I know if I’m on the right track in the application of these principles?
Some months ago, I had an opportunity to interview Amanda Luketa, a freelance technical writer at thestemwriter.com who regularly posts her musings on Medium.
I was looking for some feedback on the Big to Small Thinking Framework — more specifically someone who could try the framework out for themselves. Following the interview, one thing stood out to me: whatever Amanda was doing already exhibited many elements of the framework.
Here is my transcribed interview with Amanda, segmented according to 3 of 4 of the B2S Principles.
Principle 1 — Identify Your Big Picture
The Big to Small: Are you aware of your purpose in life, your values and strengths? When was the last time you thought about these things?
Amanda Luketa: Yes! My purpose in life is to be happy and fulfilled, and through this I can serve others. I think about this on a near-daily basis in the context of contemplating and planning my big goals for the future. I also know that these goals will change naturally as I progress, which I’m cool with because this just means I’m gaining more clarity as I move forward.
I value kindness, peace, and love (other things too, but these are the big ones). My biggest strength is the ability to creatively problem solve. I’m also pretty good at communicating and articulating concepts, both written and verbal.
Are you happy with your current job, and why?
Super happy. I wouldn’t consider it a “job” — I quit that about a year ago. I was working professionally as an engineer, after going through a ton of schooling for engineering, and always knew that the traditional 9–5 world wasn’t a good fit for me but did it anyway because that’s what you’re “supposed to do.” I quit to start a freelance writing business, with a sprinkle of web design on the side. I see this as the foundational first step in achieving my big goals, and the first step in a 5–7-year timeline to get there.
Is there something you feel like you should be pursuing, but don’t? Why?
Not really. I feel like I have a very clear idea of the specific actions I need to take to get my business off the ground, and a good roadmap of what to do in the coming weeks, months, and years.
Principle 2 — Master Your Mindset
Do you get the feeling that you’re holding yourself back in any way? If so, why?
The closest thing to this would be that I know I need to start sending cold emails to generate leads and clients. It’s taken me a while to warm up to the idea of doing that. It’s not that I feel anxiety over it, it’s more like it’s outside of my comfort zone and is something totally new. My brain hasn’t developed the pathways so see this as a thing that I “do.” So I just need to do it, and I’m sure after even the first one it’ll feel much easier and more comfortable.
How often do you feel overwhelmed by life and why do you think that’s the case?
The closest thing to feeling overwhelmed was by the amount of debt I’ve incurred in getting to where I am now. You read my post about my $12k credit card debt — it’s basically all that. I realized though that in the big picture, none of this matters. What actually matters is that I stay the course and don’t quit, because I will persevere and I will succeed.
I think the root of this overwhelm is due to the fact that I was raised to be very financially smart & conscientious.
For example, I’ve only ever owned one car, and it’s the one I bought used from my mom back when I was 17 back in 2007. It’s still running but is a total piece of sh*t. I never bought a new one because unless I could pay for it comfortably in cash, it didn’t make financial sense to me. I still have a vehicle that can get me from point A to point B, which is what matters. But, I feel like I’ve recently worked through this issue and currently feel very comfortable with what I’m doing and where I’m at.
Are you frustrated with your own progress (in whichever avenue), and what do you think can help accelerate your progress?
No. I’ve learned to accept where I’m at and be patient with myself, because I know I will succeed. There’s no other option that makes sense. I also know that progress isn’t linear. Once I send my first cold email, for example, I’ll be able to send the next ten in the same amount of time. I’ve also learned that I can’t hate myself into performing better and treating myself with kindness and compassion is the only way that I’ll allow progress to flow.
You know, I think I would have answered pretty much the opposite to every one of these questions even as little as six months ago.
Principle 3 — Simplify Your Approach
What changed from 6 months ago when you didn’t quite know what you wanted? How did you work through that?
I think the biggest thing for me that marked the point of change was getting to a really low point in my relationship to success. I hit rock bottom, you could say. I wasn’t making progress and was instead allowing myself to stagnate and live in this fantasy world where I believed that everything would work out, but without having taken the actions necessary to back up that belief.
It was sort of a do-or-die moment. My options were to actually work on my goals — knowing that with persistence, I will succeed no matter what, or go out and apply for jobs — knowing that I’ll get one, and I’ll hate it.
What’s the point of existing if you’re stifling your own potential, or not taking action toward your dreams?
Sounds a little serious, and that’s because it is. I guess I had a really powerful shift in perspective. Now motivation and doing the work doesn’t seem hard at all. I have zero desire anymore to waste time by watching TV or getting lost in social media. I’m on a mission.
-End of Interview-
Your Big Picture forms the basis for everything you do
Amanda is keenly aware of her purpose, values, and strengths, which helps to explain why she has such a clear vision of her goals and has even crafted a roadmap to achieve them, inclusive of the specific short and long term actions she needs to take. Such clarity can only come about when you understand your Big Picture. After all, how can you plan your journey if you don’t know where you’re going?
But as Amanda pointed out, your goals are not set in stone. They are fluid and can change based on your circumstances. I would even go so far as to add that your purpose or your ‘Why’ can change too. You can even have more than one ‘Why’. What matters is that you are constantly attuned to what those goals and purpose(s) are, so that you can organize your life around them. And this can only happen if you take the time to discover what they are in the first place.
Your circumstances can quickly change for the better if you adopt the right mindset. That may mean abandoning what you previously held true.
At some point in time, Amanda realized she was not doing what she wanted to do, but what she was conditioned to believe she was supposed to do. She was living under the illusion that since she was doing what she was supposed to do, everything would work out, just as society told her it would. It wasn’t until she decided to prioritize her desires and dreams instead of convention that everything changed.
Society — our family and friends often set the parameters of what we should be doing with our lives, along with the standards we should live up to. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s often the safest road to take especially if we don’t know better. The real struggle comes when what we desire for ourselves is fundamentally at odds with what society tells us is normal. It’s a conflict that can only be resolved in one of two ways.
- You give your desires a chance. If it works out great, good. If it doesn’t, you would have lost some time, but you would have gained valuable insights in return. You would also have kicked regret out the window.
- You stay in the path that society tells you is safe, have a reasonably comfortable existence, and end up wondering “what if”, or “what could have been”.
Amanda chose the former, and what struck me was how resolute she was about persevering and succeeding. Even if you have a strong purpose, sometimes you won’t begin to pursue your goals unless you sort your mindset out.
The only way to get past doubt and uncertainty is through action
Even the best of us suffer from some level of doubt and uncertainty. And as Tony Robbins once said:
“The quality of your life is directly related to how much uncertainty you can comfortably handle”.
All we have to do is to look at successful entrepreneurs to see the truth in this statement. Entrepreneurs merely reap the rewards of the uncertainty they dealt with in the early days of their companies.
I find that the best way to overcome uncertainty is not to think your way out of it, but to do so with action. Recall Amanda’s initial hesitance to send out cold emails. She acknowledged the need to just go ahead and do it anyway, with the understanding that it will subsequently become easier.
So it is with everything we do for the first time. We often find that our fear of doing something subsides alongside with the increased regularity with which we do it.
Purpose is a strong motivator and helps you focus on the necessary
Having a purpose not only serves as scaffolding to build your goals around, but it also acts as a powerful motivator for the road ahead. It provides an added spur for when you don’t feel like doing something.
In Amanda’s case, she likens her purpose to “a mission” and when framed as such, purpose has the power to change behavior previously thought unchangeable. Even watching TV and social media doesn’t appeal to Amanda anymore. What this demonstrates is the idea that when we identify what’s important to us, everything else becomes unimportant (and therefore unappealing) by default.