Date: August 19, 2021

The minimum effective level of commitment to build a course

A little over a decade ago, during the “struggling comedy writer” chapter of my life, my writing partner and I came up with an idea to get noticed by agents and producers.

We were tired of submitting endless formats and scripts for TV and radio and never hearing anything back. It was time to try a different approach.

So we created our own internet reality show.

“Debt Monkey” was about an ordinary guy who signed over control of his daily life to a cynical production company. In return they’d clear his student debts.

The whole thing was a spoof with my writing partner playing the main character, but most people thought it was 100% real. We had a lot of fun making up awkward situations to put that poor guy in!

But it was a huge commitment. Every week we’d have to come up with an episode idea, plan it, film it, edit it, and release it.

Everything else in my life was put on hold. I lived off my savings for six months. I was mentally and physically exhausted by the time we wrapped it up.

But it worked.

Debt Monkey attracted a small but enthusiastic fan base and it opened a few doors with the right people.

We landed a writing agent and got paid to create an original web series for the BBC. Later, I was offered a script editor role at BBC Comedy.

And though that chapter of my life now feels like a lifetime away, I learned a valuable way to make progress on a challenging goal.

Massive, bold, no-way-back commitment.

But there is another type of commitment that’s effective too.

Small, regular, no-excuses-allowed commitment.

It’s where you commit some time every single week to working on your goal. And it’s not just a well-meaning intention to do the work. It’s a booked in the calendar commitment.

In my experience, one hour a week is about the minimum effective “dose” for making consistent progress.

So let’s turn our attention to your online course.

Because the reality is that if you can’t find at least one hour a week to nudge your course forward it’ll remain a pipe dream forever.

And that may be just fine. The world will keep on turning with or without your course in it.

But if not having a course is actually not okay, maybe it’s time to make that small but significant commitment to get things moving.

Go to your calendar, find an open slot and book a recurring appointment with yourself.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you’ll do with that hour yet. It’s the commitment that’s important.

To get things rolling, here are some ideas for that first session:

  • Brainstorm some problems you could solve for your target audience
  • Make list of small actions that will definitely move things forward
  • Make a list of obstacles blocking your progress (plus ideas for getting around them)

Even if you stare at a blank page to start with, you’re training yourself that this is important to you.

If you’re feeling bold, reply to this email and tell me exactly which hour in your week you’ve set aside to work on your course.

(I won’t be checking in on you, but sharing your commitment will help you make it real.)

Good luck and see you soon.


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