Snakes & Alligators

Have you ever had this experience?

You have an idea for a project. It’s a really great idea. You are so excited. Your mind races. You imagine what the finish project would look like, how it will change your life for the better, how you will be recognized by your peers for your incredible contribution to your industry. You then see yourself at an awards ceremony where you are honored for your achievement. You realize this means that you will have to dress up all fancy and give a speech. All the sudden this daydream becomes anxiety ridden as you don’t know what you would wear or what you would say. Now, you have so much anxiety over something that you’ve made up that you can’t start the project.

When you are at the beginning of a project does looking at the future and all of the potential problems and achievements paralyze you?

If so, you are not alone. It happens to me all the time and to many of the people I work with. If fact, I was recently having a conversations with someone when this very issue came up. Out of my mouth came a statement I grew up hearing my dad say,

via @lizostler
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You are up to your ass in alligators and you’re worried about the snakes across the street. -Cal Ostler (also known as Liz’s dad).



As a kid this colorful statement always made me laugh and want to play Pitfall on the ATARI.


Now, I see the wisdom, in this statement, to focus on the issue at hand. The one that you can actually do something about.

Today, I’m going to share with you 3 tips to help you stop worrying about the snakes and how to handle the alligators.

[dropcap1 variation=”green”]1[/dropcap1] The Future is your future self’s business. The present is your business.
We can only show up and do the work in the present. Getting all worked up about the future is a way of avoiding the the work you can and must do now. Trust that you will have the skills and resources necessary to handle any future problems because you will. Focus on what you can do right now to move your project forward.

[dropcap1 variation=”green”]2[/dropcap1] Identify the next step.
What’s the next step that your project needs to move forward? Ask it, it will tell you. If you are writing a play, is it creating an outline or a character breakdown? If you are building a puppet, is it gathering all the materials? Or do you need to do your research? Identify the next step helps you to focus your energies and resources that you may effectively and efficiently move forward. From there, you can create an action plan.

[dropcap1 variation=”green”]3[/dropcap1] Create an action plan.
Once you’ve identified your next step, break it down into ridiculously small, do-able, tasks. This will help you overcome being overwhelmed. Completing tasks that move your project forward also builds your confidence. For example, if your next step is to research ATARI games your action plan may be the following tasks:

  • Create an ATARI Pinterst Board
  • Google ATARI and look at the findings for 1 hour
  • Call older sister to talk about playing ATARI back in the day
  • Ask Facebook friends if anyone has an ATARI that I can borrow

I hope these tips are helpful to you. I’d like to know what projects you are working on and how you deal with your alligators and snakes. Comment in the space below.

If you would like to work with me to address your snakes and alligators, please contact me.

60 Replies to “Snakes & Alligators”

  1. From your neighboring armchair: thanks for this, Liz. I am a very talented dreamer, but when it comes to getting down to business, I go blank. I have plastered the wall by my desk with papers headlining my big dreams, then I make a list under each headline of tasks to complete. This is especially helpful when I have a surge inspiration and need to record it quickly, because when I make the time to get to work, that’s when I go blank. This way, I have prepared notes to follow, and can just pick a task from my list.

    1. I love these ideas, Emily. It’s so important to write down the inspiration when it comes.

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