A great lens is unique lens, one that shows the lensmaster’s idea of what a lens can be. Making all these choices is usually fun and exciting, but sometimes, the number of choices can be overwhelming, leaving you feeling confused and stuck instead of energized.
Today I’ll share some information about how we make choices and 5 ideas to help you improve your choices, build better lenses and have more fun.
Blocks to Smart Choices
First, I’d like to introduce the concept of Choice Paralysis. This is the state of indecision that results from an overabundance of choices, real or perceived. An excess of choices can often cause anxiety and uncertainty, leading us to make poorer choices than if we had been offered less options. When attempting to make a complex choice without a personal decision making framework, we’re likely to make an arbitrary snap decision or simply remain indecisive.
Attempting to address your indecision could lead you to experiencing Analysis Paralysis: This is an approach to choices where we attempt to analyze every potential advantage, disadvantage and consider all the possible outcomes in the hopes of making the “ultimate” correct decision. What happens instead is we become stuck, confused or frustrated and often find ourselves unable to take any action at all.
As you can see, these two states are very closely related and can often play into each other – the more we analyze, the more complex things become and the harder it is to choose. The good news is with a little bit of preparation, we can beat both Choice and Analysis paralysis before they discourage us or lead us to make less than optimal decisions.
How does this relate to building lenses?
Now that you understand more about why complex choices can be difficult, consider how many complex choices are involved in the creation maintenance and expansion of your lenses. Without a decision making framework that reflects your interests, values, passions and ambitions, you may find yourself focusing time, attention and effort working on lenses that don’t reflect your true potential as a lensmaster. Instead of having fun, nurturing your creativity and making content that’s interesting and unique to you, you could be experiencing the frustration and indecision of over-thinking things that you don’t truly care about or not being able to choose a direction at all. This is no way to make your best lenses.
5 Ways to Improve
1. Start with content you’re close to
That means creating lenses about subjects that directly relate to your life somehow. It could be a long-standing interest or hobby, a first hand experience you’ve had, a strong opinion you’re willing to voice, or a cause, product or story you are passionate about. You’re looking for a connection that’s deeper than just knowledge about a topic. This kind of closeness gives you a unique position to speak from. When you choose content you are close to, you will be able to communicate complex ideas and concepts, nurture your creative intelligence, connect better with your audience and experience greater personal satisfaction.
In the early 00′s, the nature of the Internet began to shift. This was the birth of the social web as we know it today, where knowledge has value but experience is the most valuable. People go online expecting first hand information and experiences from people they can identify with. You can combine your knowledge and your experience to create the kind of content that readers connect with and search engines love.
Here’s an example of why experience is more valuable than research:
I like to buy new books online, but before I decide on a book, I read reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads, written by ordinary people, not book reviewers or literary critics. When I find a book that I think I might want to read, I will generally read between 5 and 15 reviews to help me decide if I’d like to buy the book. However, I can’t truly understand the book or make any kind of value judgement about it until I’ve read it myself. I could write a review based on other people’s research but it would not have the same amount of value, authority or relevance as the review I could write from my own experience.
No amount of research can equal the authority, relevance and value of experiential knowledge. Create content based on experience, not research. Share your own opinion, not those of strangers.
3. Make simple decisions in advance
You can improve your ability to make complex choices by having clear, defined ideas about what you want your lenses to be before they even exist. Are you an analytical person who likes lots of data or would you prefer a lens that was heavy on the visual information? Do you want to create long lenses that have many sections or would you prefer to divide your topics among many interlinked lenses?
These are all simple choices when made ahead of time. By defining a larger vision for your lenses, you are able to eliminate choices that don’t find and make your decisions easier. If you already know what you want to do before you start, you’ll be able to choose the right tools without agonizing over your options.
4. Analyze when it’s appropriate
Don’t try to avoid Analysis Paralysis by never thinking about what you’re doing or analyzing your methods, content quality or overall attitude. The smart solution is to allow yourself some time for introspection – you’ll be able to spot small sparks before they become fires, find the weak spots in your writing and get an overview of how you are doing. I like to do an assessment of my own lenses and content goals once a week to see how I’m doing and where I can focus my attention. By setting aside the time to analyze and think about your work, you can remove some of the temptation to over-analyze when it’s not appropriate.
5. Pivot for your passion
Last, but perhaps the most important of all: Being attuned to your passions in life will guide you towards creating content you’re close to, give you experiences to share and streamline your decision making. Passion is the most helpful tool you have to guide you through the many complex choices you’ll make when building lenses. The more overlap between what you care about and what you do on Squidoo, the better your content and the more fun you will have.
That’s where the “pivot” part comes in: That means you are always willing to change gears for something that truly excites you. You stay ready and willing to change your focus or divert time and attention whenever you discover something you are passionate about. When you aren’t sure which direction to move or what decision to make, consider your passions and choose the option that resonates closest with what you truly care about.
So there you have it – easy ways to make the smart decisions that set you on the path to making great content and having more fun. What do you think about these ideas? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment below.