Jean Moroney

Jean Moroney

SmarterStep by StepCatch Problems Early Grasp Issues Quickly

Take Action Decisively


2 minutes each week to help you execute on your goals

from Jean Moroney

Issue #73
I. Tip: Focus on Benefits Rather than Tradeoffs
II. Smarter Execution Workshop Preview April 25
III. Related Posts on the Blog and Website
I. Tip: Focus on Benefits Rather than Tradeoffs
In a recent consult, a member of the Thinking Lab reported that he was ambivalent about a few new side projects he was considering.
Although he had time for them, he was concerned that the projects would create stress if he took them on. As a result, he was only working on them half-heartedly.
The basic problem here is lack of goals. He had not set goals for any of the projects, because he wasn’t sure he wanted the commitment. But without a conscious goal to guide and prioritize your steps, your work is necessarily haphazard, fitful, and unsatisfying. Here’s what I told him:
The obstacle to commitment is ambivalence. When you are ambivalent about an action, you see advantages and disadvantages to taking it. It can be difficult to untangle the pros and cons. And yet until you untangle them, make a decision, and set a goal, you are in limbo.
Such a decision is tricky, because it seems you need to “trade off” positives against negatives.
For example, one of his projects was some consulting work that would be interesting and pay for a family vacation (a positive). But it would also involve stress, deadlines, and possibly missing some family time if there were unanticipated problems that led to crunchtime at the end (the possible negatives).
How do you trade off the benefits of the vacation and interesting work against the possible stressors? Especially when you don’t know exactly how difficult the project will be?
The only reliable way I know handle these decisions is not a trade off at all. It is the maxi-max approach: choose the option that maximizes the potential positive benefits.
To maximize potential benefits, you don’t ignore the negatives. The negatives of one option become the positives of another. So, for example, if doing a project has the negative of extra stress, then not doing the project has the positive of “more relaxed time at home.”
Once you convert all the pros & cons into benefits for one option or another, it’s pretty easy to pick the option with the biggest payoff. The result is that you see and are drawn to the positives you can achieve. (The alternative is to focus on minimizing the bad things that might happen–which is a form of “motivation by fear.”)
When you have ambitious goals, focusing on the positives gives you the courage to move forward.
II. Smarter Execution Workshop Preview Call April 25
Today’s article is its own little preview of the Smarter Execution Workshop. The method of I describe above is easily implemented if you know a clever tactic I learned from PJ Eby, which I call the “Free Decision Method.” I teach this tactic in the Smarter Execution Workshop.
Want to know more? On Saturday, April 25, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern, I will be giving a free preview call for the new workshop. In this call, I will share many of the concepts from the workshop. This is going to be a fast-paced hour, with a lot of information.
Curious what kind of things I’ll cover? Here’s the workshop description:
Smarter Execution Workshop Description
As a professional or small business owner, you are in charge of your own work. You have some control over the goals that you set, and some autonomy in choosing how to achieve them. That’s great when work goes well-you can be creative and you feel fulfilled. And it’s not so great when it doesn’t.
But of course, problems come with the territory. Whether you are a manager or a small business owner, an engineer or an artist, a consultant or a freelancer, if you continuously set ambitious goals, you will eventually run into obstacles that you are not well-equipped to deal with. Here’s the way it happens:
You set a goal. You make a plan. You get started. Then, well before you can see your way to the finish, something goes wrong. Maybe everything goes wrong. What to do now? You need to pick yourself up, make a new plan, and get started again. But this time it’s a little harder. You already did what seemed obvious. You already used up that first rush of enthusiasm. Now a feeling of struggle or strain may creep in.
When you find yourself in these situations, you need a process–a conscious process–to help you execute on your intentions without getting bogged down, blocked, or burned out. In the Smarter Execution Workshop, you learn how to catch the problems early, identify the issues quickly, and take action decisively–so that you finish sooner, with motivation to spare.
In the morning session, you learn tactics to quickly rethink the goal and your immediate objective. You learn how to identify, not just any next step, but the next steps that foster your motivation and pay off fastest. You learn how to tap into your own experience and expertise, to find the way forward that works for you.
You learn a process for switching mental gears when you start feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. It is normal to feel negative emotions when work is not going well. In this workshop, you learn how to unpack the information in the feelings. That helps you get to the heart of the issue-and back on track sooner.
In the afternoon session, you learn how to catch that you’re starting down a slippery slope to failure. You learn the top three causes of procrastination, and how to counter them. You learn how untangle the factors in a difficult decision, so you can quickly and decisively choose the best option.
Most people, when they run into problems, scramble to regroup. In the Smarter Execution Workshop, you learn to call on a flexible system of proven techniques-a system that you can use every day to solve problems faster, make better decisions, and get projects finished.
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 III. Related Articles on the Site
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Thinking Directions

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About Jean Moroney: Ms. Moroney, President of Thinking Directions, teaches managers, small business owners, and other professionals how to be smarter as they execute on their goals by catching problems early, grasping issues quickly, and taking action decisively. Ms. Moroney received a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from MIT, and worked as a system engineer, project manager, and software consultant for 10 years. She has an MS in Psychology from Carnegie-Mellon, and has been coaching and speaking on thinking skills since 1998. She has given her all- day flagship course, “Thinking Tactics” all over North America. Her corporate clients include Microsoft,, BB&T, and Canadian Bank Note Company. Thousands of people have benefited from her methods. Find out more at and sign up for her freebie class: Jump Start Your Project: