Plan Your Next
Plan Your Next
But, will it make the boat go faster?

But, will it make the boat go faster?

Plan Your Next #71

👋 Good morning from Los Angeles! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter connecting design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.

Welcome to all 10 of you who are new here. I hope the internet robots welcomed you warmly.

💡 What’s new?

Approachable Design 3 will be launching on Aug 21-22. It’s a 2-day live workshop to discover your unique visual style and to build a design system you can use for your future design projects. We’ll be officially opening up the doors in the next few days, and you can get on the waitlist here!

How to choose colors from the inside-out. I gave a mini-workshop to Khe Hy’s Supercharge Your Productivity students. I created a template for doing this on your own, which includes a couple of resources. It’s now yours!

Will it make the boat go faster?
Illustration by your truly

But, will it make the boat go faster?

Imagine having immense clarity on what you want to do next, that every single decision you make is based on a single question.

This is how the British rowing team won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

It had been 88 years since the British rowing team won a gold medal. Simply, it was a team not taken seriously.

But while training for the Sydney Olympics, they developed a strategy that transformed their team from an afterthought into a gold medal winner.

What was their strategy?

To pit every decision against the question, “Will it make the boat go faster?”

“Should we change our routine?” Will it make the boat go faster?

“Should we go out drinking tonight?” Will it make the boat go faster?

“Should we eat eggs for breakfast?” Will it make the boat go faster?

“Should we sleep in?” Will it make the boat go faster?

Having this focus kept the team aligned on strategy, conditioning, and training. They destroyed their competition and won gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Set your long-term intentions

When we are unclear about our real purpose in life—in other words, when we don’t have a clear sense of our goals, our aspirations, and our values—we make up our own social games. —Greg McKeown, Essentialism

What I find helpful with this strategy is that it becomes a game you can use to break down the decisions you need to make in the next day, week, or month. Our lives are chaotic and messy. Mine sure is.

But, without setting long-term intentions for what’s important in your life, there’s nothing to anchor the answers to.

Greg McKown describes a way to narrow your focus when presented with new opportunities.

  1. Write down your opportunity.

  2. What are your minimum criteria?
    Write down a list of three “minimum criteria” options that would need to “pass” in order to be considered.

  3. What are your extreme criteria?
    Write down three ideal or “extreme criteria” the options would need to pass in order to be considered. By definition, if the opportunity doesn’t pass the first set of criteria, the answer is obviously no. But if it also doesn’t pass two of your three extreme criteria, the answer is still no.

On its face, it seems simple, but the real work comes from knowing where you’re headed.

What’s your version of, “Does this make the boat go faster?

More reading on this story:
This week’s newsletter is inspired by a story I found earlier in the week.

🤯 Three creative hits for next week

How to summarize the next book you read
One way to increase your site’s traffic is to summarize book reviews. But it’s a competitive space and even I am daunted by the idea. Matt Tillotson—writer and marketer—shares 7 personalized ways to remix books in your own voice.

Learn your next language in the browser
In my neverending quest to learn another language, I’m always on the lookout to find novel ways to practice. Toucan is a browser extension that replaces words while you read, so you can practice where we spend most of our days.

Your next typeface
Designers know there are so many beautiful typefaces that aren’t found in drop-down menus. For non-designers, a simple way to stand out is by choosing one that speaks to your personality. This beautiful spikey serif typeface is inspired by the features of migratory birds. Designed by Valerio Monopoli.

👋 See you next Sunday

If you’ve forgotten who I am, here’s a little bit about me. As always, my calendar is open to chat about your next adventure, crazy idea, or if you’re feeling creatively stuck.

Have a great week,


Twitter: @kadlac

Plan Your Next
Plan Your Next
I'm Nate Kadlac, designer of Plan Your Next. A weekly newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.