On this episode of Communicate for Good, Erica discusses the difference between for now vs forever decisions. She also acknowledges the importance of making the best decision you can for yourself right now and the benefit of creating a time frame for that decision. The intention of the time frame is to provide space to determine if the decision is serving you and helping you to achieve your goals, and, if not, then the option to pivot and make a new “now” decision.
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This is a transcript of Erica Barnhart on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!
decision, communicate , framing, organization, communication, reactivity, intentionality
Welcome to the Communicate for Good podcast where leaders on a mission to make the world a better place come to talk and learn about how communication language and words can help increase awareness, revenue and impact. With less stress and more joy. I’m your host Erica Mills Barnhart and I’m so excited. You’re here with me. Let’s dive right in.
Welcome to or welcome back to the Communicate for Good podcast. I am Erica Barnhart your host and today I want to talk about for now versus forever decisions. Near the end of this episode, I’m going to share a decision I’ve made for now as it relates to this podcast. Let me set this up a bit before we get to that, as how we frame decisions has been on my mind recently. I’m lucky enough, privileged enough, to be in a moment with my daughter where she is going to go off to college. I’ve been chatting with her and her friends over the past year a lot about this big life choice. What’s been striking to me is that going to college is one of those choices that gets positioned as a forever decision, and from the get go I’ve been like that’s just simply not accurate. It’s a big decision but it’s not a forever decision. I went to University of Oregon for one year and then a bunch of stuff happened in Oregon and so the programs that I was interested in got eradicated from the University of Oregon. That didn’t make sense so then I came to the University of Washington and was there for a couple years and also had the great good fortune through an exchange program to live in Paris for a year. It was a long and winding path that was not all at one place. I’ve been talking to these young people who are making these choices, and just saying, make the best decision you can for yourself for now and also know that things can change with that so big life decision isn’t a forever decision.
I see this with my clients a lot confusing for now with forever. What happens when everything has a default setting to a great extent, and is a maybe not a forever decision, of this is high stakes. I think part of that is we are still recovering from COVID and the past three years and how challenging that has been and what it’s done to our nervous systems, which we’ve talked about on this podcast before and so we’re more reactive than responsive. It’s really important to build in ways to pause that reactivity so that you can be responding. Otherwise, the reactivity kind of amps up all the decision making. With the Claxon method, we start with what does success look like? And then who’s our target audience? And then how are we going to reach our target audience? Or how are we going to communicate with the person that we need to communicate with, right? It’s always what, who, how, grounded in the why, so you’re making the decision about the goal, and then about the audience, and then about how you’re going to reach them. That’s actually a lot of decisions packed into those three questions. It’s actually in the how that I see, for now, woops, with forever. Sort of like, if we make this this one choice then we have to stick with it, and you don’t want to be capricious, right? If you’re going to try something new then try something new. Take for instance, the classic annual fundraiser, anybody? Of course so many nonprofits during COVID really had to call the question at what are you going to do because you couldn’t have them in person. This was a hugely disruptive moment, but now we’re seeing the emergence and the option to do it in person and I’m hearing now a lot of what we do next we really have to be very invested in it. This ends up feeling like a financial decision, like should we keep it virtual or should it be in person? Are we going to try a hybrid thing? I mentioned annual fundraiser because by definition the time horizon is built in, it’s a year, so you’re making a for this year decision. I think it’s really helpful to name that and to have that become part of the culture of how you communicate about the decisions that you’re making for you and your team in your organization. We do this with team meetings or board meetings, you switch the frequency at which you’re meeting and it feels like you have to go with that forever. Again, do you want to stick with these things for long enough to figure it out if they serve you, absolutely. The question is, is this shift helping you achieve your goals more qualitatively, in a way that feels better to you and the team, or maybe it’s about how quickly, and, again, this is this is up to you and what matters to the organization. I think it’s really helpful to name that, are we talking about a year here? Are we truly setting precedent? Sometimes you are, and if you’re truly setting precedent, and it’s gonna be a tough one to go back on, okay, then those stakes are higher. In the world of picking should I be a leader who’s going to send out a weekly communique? You might try that for a while but it doesn’t mean you have to do it absolutely forever if it’s not if it’s not working for you, so decide in advance, right? How long do I need to give this or do we need to give this as a team to figure out if it’s serving us? Then you’re going to say what that means, so what does success look like? What does it mean to be serving you as an organization? When are we going to check back in?
I mentioned that there were some changes with Claxon. I have the great good fortune to get to spend more time at the UW Evans School in the coming year working on very cool projects and teaching the amazing students. Last week was graduation, and you can hear I’m still grinning from that graduation. If any of my recent graduates or past graduates are listening to this, I’m still so stinking proud of you. Graduation is so fun to witness and such an honor. With this change, I am doing some stuff, redesigning and implementing a new executive MPA program, and it’s a lot of really cool, blessed work that I get to do. That also means I need to be real about how much non-UW, Claxon stuff I have time for, especially given that I’m not trying to stuff my life full. I really am a fan these days of some spaciousness whenever possible. It creates the time and space for me to cook a lot these days. Lots of cooking is happening, and it’s so good for my soul and I’m adoring that. I really am, you know, always that elusive quest for balance but I love this podcast. To me, it honestly feels like I’m spending time with you when I’m doing a show like this, even just a solo show. It is like you and I are chit chatting even though I do realize you are not chatting back, I realized that, I get that, but it’s a very creative outlet for me and that gives me energy. For now, this is my for now decision. I’ve decided to go from once a week to twice a month, but the podcast, so you’ll be getting I’ll be releasing them every other Monday. In four months. I’m gonna see how that’s going. Do I feel like I’m still in service to you? Is this still bringing value? I can look at some metrics and get a sense for that over time and then I’ll make adjustments. Right, I’ll make adjustments. If you follow Claxon for any period of time, you’ll know that this is this is part of the Claxon way, which is to just be trying loads of stuff. A couple years ago, actually just over a year ago, when I switched from Claxon Marketing to Claxon Communication that was a pretty big switch but not a forever switch. It was a big one, right, so a lot of intentionality went into that and as part of that I sunsetted the blog, Claxon’s blog, which I’d written for a gajillion years, approximately. I was looking at the metrics, and it wasn’t getting the traction that it used to, which says, that’s not the best way or the most effective way to communicate with the people that are now listening to this show, folks like you, and so I sunsetted it. Can I bring the blog back, sure, bring the blog back, maybe, maybe, but that was the right decision for now, at that moment in time, s, for now, you’re gonna hear from me again, in a couple of weeks. It’s actually pretty tough to get feedback from podcasters by guest listeners, so my email is in the show notes so if you have opinions on this, let me know. If it would be helpful to share some decisions that you’re facing and to get some feedback on are these for now or forever? How can we think about these decisions differently? Anything like that, always reach out, I’m always here for you. I hope that this framing this for now versus forever helps you maybe hold some decisions more lightly and also free up the energy to double down on those that truly matter to you most. Do good be well and I will see you next time.
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