It happens to all of us: we wake up and have a first cup of coffee and a shower, and suddenly, we have an epiphany. We think it’s a real game-changer — that it will lift us out of our drab or uninspired lull and into a world of opportunity. We think we should tell everyone we know about how we intend to overhaul the personal counseling industry, write a New York Times bestseller or relocate our life and start an urban farming collective in New Mexico. And in our head, we can’t fail.
Years ago, I made a jump from working for someone to becoming a business owner. It’s been the best thing I’ve done in my life. However, before you start changing your LinkedIn job title, quit your job and holding celebrations, take a step back and breathe. Write the idea down somewhere and put it away. Sleep on it, and continue your life as it always was. After some time passes, re-read your idea again and see if you still want to go through with it.
Make Sure You Love What Fulfilling This Goal Involves
If you have a big goal or dream that will add some impact to a certain industry (e.g. writing a book, selling your fashion designs on Etsy, starting a new technology company), it’s safe to assume that you have some experience or passion invested in the activity itself. If the ultimate goal is to do what you love, you should really, really love what you’re about to do enough to take it to the next level.
In the beginning of embarking on this new venture, you should keep asking yourself if you’re willing to love it this much — if you love it enough to start learning other unrelated skills (like light programming, juggling finances, editing, social media). People are more motivated and accomplish more when they love what they’re doing, so make sure this is worth it for you.
Visualize Your End Goal With as Much Detail as You Can
Do you know what realizing your dream looks like? Can you see yourself on that podium, collecting your trophy? Do you know what your acceptance speech would sound like? Can you taste the celebration dinner when you finally go public with this company that you are willing into existence? Take a moment and indulge yourself in fantasy, and visualize your end goal in rich detail. The clearer you can see what success looks like for you, the more attainable your goals are.
Our minds are often swimming in negative thoughts of, “I have no place trying to pull this off. I’m too small and the idea is too big,” of constant comparisons to other people of long days and struggle. In these moments, I have to remind myself of the victories I can taste and fill my heart with the positivity I was full of when I started.
Research, Plot a Strategy and Break It Down Into Actionable Steps
Try to get a better idea of what’s ahead. Look for people who have pulled off similar projects or companies, talk to professionals or simply map out what it would mean for you to get where you want to go. This means researching a variety of different fields, like business and finance or social engine marketing. When you have an idea of what your goal entails, break down your strategy in small, actionable steps.
They can be:
- Knit a small collection of sweaters.
- Hold a photo shoot.
- Set up an Etsy shop.
- Make a blog.
- Map out a story outline with a list of characters.
- Write character backgrounds.
- Write for three hours a day.
- Do a market study of the product you’re thinking of launching.
- Work a ton of overtime to save capital.
- Look into grants.
Reorganize Your Routine or Start a Daily Routine
The most important part of realizing your dream is to do the work. There is no successful person out there who hasn’t done the work in some way or another. If you’re serious about your goal and you have a strategy to tackle it, you have to work at it every day.
Whether it means getting up a few hours earlier to get a few chapters in or dedicating time after work (or after putting your children to sleep) to dive into your goals, it’s important to stop framing them as a “dream project” or “an idea.” Once you have decided to go through with your dream, it stops becoming a dream and starts to become work or a real responsibility that you owe to yourself.
Get Into a Growth Mindset
If you believe that your big idea is an opportunity to learn more and improve your skills, you will be more motivated to continue reaching above and beyond what you had set out to do. People who believe that intelligence and skill level is a fixed quantity tend to give up and use their lack of aptitude or intelligence as an excuse not to continue.
However, those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to keep traveling down the path to success. They believe that every goal, every challenge, every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and improve personal growth. It is dangerous to say, “I’m not an organized person,” because it assumes you are incapable of getting your life in order or to say, “I’ve always been an introvert,” as it implies that introverts can’t, or shouldn’t, try to challenge themselves socially. Realize your challenges and setbacks now and know that there will always be challenges and setbacks — but that you can handle these problems. Then you can say to yourself, “I can overcome this and learn from it,” and you’ll have a much greater potential for growth and success with your next big idea.