It’s accepting that life will - and does - happen. So you need to know in advance what you’re going to do when you’re hit by situations outside your control.
What a When-Then Plan Looks Like
The When-Then Plan is a humble affair. It goes something like this:
WHEN I can’t get into my studio for an extra hour in the morning (or any hour at all), THEN I will...
...spend five minutes checking-in with my art in the evening and deciding how I’ll work the next day."
WHEN I can’t do my hour’s writing before work, THEN I will...
...sit in the car at lunch time and free-write for 10 minutes."
Using the When-Then Plan to Maintain Momentum
“But wait a minute!” I hear you say, “That doesn’t cover the hour I lost.”
You’re right. Your contingency plan won’t replace your original intention but it WILL keep you connected to it.
When we check in with our work, even just for five minutes, our Inner Critic backs down and our much more useful Critical Faculty comes into play.
Our critical faculty helps us readjust our plan to take account for the time we’ve lost and decide how to go forward.
If we have a deadline for our creative work, it helps us plan catch-up sessions or decide what isn’t absolutely critical to do.
If there’s no deadline, our Critical Faculty will help us analyse how our work is going and where we can best put our energies in the next session.
The When-Then Plan is a Review Opportunity
Another major bonus of the When-Then Plan is that it helps you transform those ‘unfortunate’ interruptions in your streak into productive pauses.
You can use these pauses to assess your direction and make sure you’re on track. Think of them as a chance to tune into your inner voice and make sure everything is as it should be.
Hit the Ground Running!
But the most powerful aspect of the When-Then Plan is that it leaves you primed to leap into your creative work at the earliest possible opportunity.
You’ll hit the ground running without any of those horrible feelings of dejection that normally accompany breaking your streak.
So remember: Your new habits are only good intentions without a When-Then Plan.