Just print it!: Moving from contemplation to action

Passive income stream goal

Long-time readers are aware that Steve Pavlina was one of my mentors when I first set up this site, and that I have continued to reference his work from time to time. I read and enjoy his blog regularly, so I’m currently reading the series he’s writing about how to generate passive income. Normally I would probably dismiss someone on the internet who was promising to teach you how to make money as a huckster, but Steve has earned quite a bit of credibility with me so I’ve decided to follow along. What the heck–I’m probably going to be reading all of his posts for the rest of the year anyway.

Passive Income Series

A couple of weeks ago Steve suggested setting a very specific goal about the amount of passive income you want to generate, by when, and for how long. I waffled between a few different numbers during the week, and finally decided to go with something similar to the fairly modest default goal he suggested.

This week he published the next post in the series and guess it should come as no surprise that the next step in the process is to advertise that goal to ourselves. I especially appreciated what he said about the reason why:

This step is important because the natural tendency after setting a new goal is to drop the ball very quickly. Many people lose sight of their new goals within a week after setting them. They get sucked into various distractions, and the goal doesn’t take root. To prevent your goal from fizzling out, you have to keep giving it some attention, just as you would keep watering a plant.

Yes!! That’s exactly what we’re doing when we advertise to ourselves about our goals–watering them so they are able to take root even amidst all of the other distractions in our lives.

Unexpected resistance

The advertising method Steve suggested is one of the easiest you can possibly do–just print out a copy of your statement and place it someplace you will see it often. No one knows better than me how simple that is or how well it works, so you would think it would be a complete no-brainer for me to print that puppy out and get started, right?

Wrong! Instead I encountered a surprising amount of resistance to printing a copy of my statement. My inner dialogue went something like this: “Since I’ve done similar things in the past and know how well it works I can already visualize my printed statement posted on the wall, and that image in my mind will probably influence me almost as well as the real thing.” (Or something like that.) Plus I wasn’t thrilled that this would mean finally having to commit to some exact numbers instead of holding kind of a fuzzy range of acceptable values in my head.

Maybe I found myself experiencing the same thing some of you encounter when you read my posts about personal marketing: “Sure this sounds like a good idea, and I’ll file it away to use for some other goal sometime, but I don’t really have to get up and do that right now when I could just learn about the method and imagine the results…do I?”

Stages of Change

This difference between thinking and doing sounds a lot like energy states that are described in the Stages of Change model (also called the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change). That model describes several stages people go through in relationship to making a change:

  • Precontemplation – not intending to change
  • Contemplation – thinking about it
  • Preparation – getting ready to change
  • Action – actively modifying the behavior
  • Maintenance – working to prevent relapse
  • Termination – done

Notice that there’s a stage between thinking about something (Contemplation) and doing it (Action). This stage is called Preparation, and I think it’s exactly the sweet spot where personal marketing belongs. People in the Preparation stage begin to “take small steps that they believe can help them make the healthy behavior a part of their lives.” Like printing out an ad!


Fortunately in this case I did get up and print my ad, and as soon as the statement came out of the printer–I mean the moment I saw it–it completely changed the way I felt about the goal. Seeing it in a tangible form like that seemed to focus and excite me, which I suspect is because it immediately made the possibility of achieving that goal seem more real. Taking a step like this is moving toward the goal, and we can feel that progress.

After I printed the statement I posted it in one of my favorite advertising locations: right next to the bathroom mirror. If past experience is any indication, I should feel that same tingle of surprise and excitement the first few times I see my ad, and then I’ll probably pay less conscious attention to it while my subconscious goes right on learning to accept the ideas it contains as the new normal.

P.S. Another step Steve suggested that we do this week is to tell someone else about our goal. So I guess that’s you! 🙂

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  1. Posted June 3, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Hi Lynn!

    I added you blog to my list where I collect people taking part in this challenge. You can find the list in my blog: streamcreator.blogspot.com

    I’m glad that you got started and I wish you good luck!

  2. azmat
    Posted January 3, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Hey Lynn. Happy New Year! Great article. I’m also following Steve’s passive income series and plan on launching another passive income stream by the end of January.

    I’ve been trying to do this for a while but something always came in the way. I definitely felt the inner resistance you talked about. Really insightful point about moving from a fuzzy goal to actually committing yourself to a real outcome. The former lets you just day dream about achieving your goal all day. Whereas if you write down now you have something tangible that keeps you accountable and moves you to action.

    Overall really enjoying your site. Never really thought about using advertising the way you describe here. I’ll definitely be using some of your techniques to help me achieve my goal. Thanks!

    P.S Have you launched your new passive income project?

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