It’s another 2:00 a.m. writing session as I find myself teetering on the ledge. You know that ledge – the one that says “OMG, what have I got myself into?” I know I’ll be able to laugh about it later, but there’s little humor in the middle of the night. The thing is, I’ve built my own ledge by creating a deadline to launch the Early Exit Academy. And new variables have entered the equation that may cause me to delay the launch. So yes, I have entered the freak-out stage. Let me explain.
The Time, Excellence, and Money Conundrum
I’ve been making good progress on the development of my online Academy. I have PowerPoint slides, scripts, outlines, graphics, and supporting documents. Everything was looking good for launching the first course – Early Exit Academy for Young Escape Artists – by November 1. But then, along came Articulate 360, an amazing course-authoring app that has opened my eyes to new possibilities. And now I’m caught in a conundrum. Not only must I learn the new software, but the content I had already created has to be reorganized and re-imagined. I’ve just built a taller ledge that costs money and time. Is it worth it?
Time is Flexible
I am working my way through a Udemy course on Articulate’s Storyline product and I signed up for some upcoming webinars. Not only is there a lot to learn, but the approach to my course has suddenly changed. I want learners to have the knowledge they need to leave the workforce early, but more importantly, I want them to take actions to reach their end goal. Now I can build in interactive tools and reward students for progressing through the necessary steps. My learning objectives have turned into doing objectives, and that’s going to require more time to remaster the content. Can I meet my self-imposed deadline and still have some time to enjoy life? I’m going to try, but I have flexibility. I’ll see how things look at the end of September.
Excellence is Non-Negotiable
I have total confidence that I will develop a great course with my current content. But now I have the opportunity to develop an EXCELLENT course that features a sleek interactive design and pushes the boundaries of e-learning. I can add gamification features and enriched scenarios using characters. Learners can collect hidden Challenge Coins and badges as they complete units. With Articulate, if you can imagine it, you can create it.
I can’t unlearn what I now know. For me, there’s just no choice. There’s a fine line to walk here. If I wait until the course is absolutely perfect, it will never launch. So I’ll do my best to make it a superb interactive highly-rated course, while acknowledging that it’s never going to be perfect. The Academy has to live up to my high standards – there’s no negotiation on the Excellence (and WOW) factors!
Money is Unpredictable
Now that I have my own business, my bottom line should be profit. The Articulate program is not cheap. Will I see a return on my investment of time and money? Maybe…maybe not. There’s no guarantee that a greater investment will equal greater profits. Yes, I hope the Academy provides an income stream, but I’m not doing any of this to make it rich. Creating an excellent and engaging program has more value to me than bringing in extra dollars.
The Application of TEM to Life Opportunities
It occurred to me that the Time-Excellence-Money conundrum makes for a great acronym: TEM. The concepts cross over from the business world into other aspects of life. For the majority of the population, money drives all actions. When you have debt collectors after you and can’t pay your electric bill, money is all you can think about. How to get more money…how to make money last…how to save money…how to stop worrying about money. That was my life at one time too. Now I have a money cushion that affords me the opportunity to think about time and excellence.
Germany, Here I Come…
My wonderful brother and his wife (and dog Leia) are living and working in Germany for a couple of years. I have been holding off on making plans to visit. My first priority has been getting the Academy up and running. And while I predict success, I don’t know what my money situation will be in 2019. So I began to think about my reluctance to make plans to visit family in Germany. What happens if I apply the TEM concept?
- Time. My time is flexible, but the opportunity is limited. Yes, go.
- Excellence. The Academy will be running smoothly by the time spring rolls around. All I need is a good WiFi connection to check in on students and I can do that anywhere. Yes, go.
- Money. The trip could hardly be more affordable. I have a free place to stay and I can use my frequent flier miles for a free flight. Yes, go.
So just like that, I am set to fly to Germany next May. I’ll be gone just over a week and will carve out some scheduled time to work with students.
And then there’s South Africa…
In January, when I had a full-time lucrative career and no worries about being fired, my gang of travel pals announced their next big adventure: a trip to South Africa, which includes my dream safari in Kruger National Park. The trip is scheduled for August 2019. I committed early and even paid for the entire trip upfront. I’m a big believer in paying while I can, because who knows what the future holds. I purchased trip insurance so that I can cancel for any reason and have my payment returned. Here’s my application of TEM.
- Time. Provided I don’t have to return to a traditional job next year, my time should remain flexible. And there won’t be another opportunity to visit Africa with this same group of fun travelers. Yes, go.
- Excellence. The trip is much longer so I’m not sure I can keep up with the full Academy load while I’m gone. I should be able to periodically check in and answer questions, but I won’t be able to provide the one-on-one attention promised to those who sign up for the 30-Day Jump Start Program. My solution is to not offer the Jump Start Program next August. That way I can maintain the high standard of excellence. Yes, go.
- Money. I’ve paid for the trip and all additional excursions. The cost of not scheduling an August Jump Start program, assuming all 20 available seats were sold, is $8,000. Probably, go.
So I’ve now walked myself down from the ledge, rather than jumped. And I’m convinced that despite the uncertainty of my financial situation, I can still prioritize excellence and time. I’m now redeeming the rewards of saving and investing a big chunk of my paycheck for decades. I’m good to go!