Life On Your Own Terms Series: Transforming Your Dreams Into Actions
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman
I have a confession to make. I am a dreamer. My mind is constantly bombarded with new and exciting ideas and projects. I LOVE starting new projects. I LOVE the rush that getting caught up in a new idea and concept brings. However, one of my greatest flaws is I struggle with the follow through. Once the shiny newness wears off of a particular project and it starts actually feeling like work? That’s when my trouble begins.
I’ll admit it. I was once that creative who had more half-finished projects than finished ones. I was once the person who had nothing to show for the hours and months of hard work I did. I used to have so many great ideas and concepts that were full of nothing but air because I lacked the discipline to work when it wasn’t fun anymore.
When I started this whole self-employed creative entrepreneur journey, I was just a dreamer. I had no clue what I was doing. I stepped out on my own with nothing but faith in my abilities and a misguided view. I thought that if I just kept the end result at the forefront of my mind, the BIG picture of where I wanted to end up, I’d be okay. Everything would fall into place. I’d work hard, put myself out there, and people would respond to my enthusiasm and positivity. I figured I’d fake it till I made it.
It didn’t take very long to realize that attitude would get me nowhere. Yes, it’s important to keep your BIG picture dreams in your mind. Yes, it’s important to embrace your work with passion and enthusiasm. And, yes, you have to be willing to put yourself out there; however, I had to learn a hard lesson. People may initially respond to your good vibes and positive energy. They may take notice of your passion and spark but the REAL game begins in keeping their attention. It’s not enough to get noticed. You have to do so over and over and over again, most times with the same people.
What does that mean for your DREAMS? Well, it means dreaming isn’t enough. Success isn’t in the end result. It’s in the journey getting there. THAT is the difference between a dreamer and doer. You have to take those big dreams and break them down, continuously. You have to turn that beautiful happily ever after image you have in your head into hundreds, if not thousands, of actions. Some of those actions will be small. Others will be enormous. Sometimes, you’ll have to take the big actions and break them down as well.
The point is, you have to be willing to climb the steps on your staircase without always knowing how many you’re going to have to take. You just have to climb and keep climbing. You’ll get to your happily ever after. You’ll get to your BIG DREAM one action at a time. With that said, let’s begin by taking a look at your big picture.
Is Your Big Picture Clear?
One of my problems starting out was I didn’t really have a clear image of where I wanted to end up. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to work from home. I wanted financial freedom. Those were good starting points, but they weren’t specific enough for me to be able to form a cohesive plan around. I wound up flailing about without direction, constantly sending pitches that rarely got answered, working on a novel in my spare time, and bumbling my way through blog writing.
None of this got me anywhere because I didn’t have a direction in sight. I took a huge step back about a year in and decided I needed to get REAL with myself and stop flying by the seat of my pants. I knew what it was I was missing-discipline and direction. The discipline part was self-evident and I knew what I needed to correct. The direction part was what gave me problems. So, I went back to my big picture. I spent time journaling about what I wanted my life to look like in five years.
I got specific. Yes, I wanted to be a professional writer, but what did that look like? Did I want to have my name in magazines across the globe? Did I want to end up as a guest on different blogs? Did I want to have published books? Would I be offering my services to small businesses in town? I wanted financial freedom, yes, but where did the majority of my income come from?
I realized very quickly that I wasn’t interested in pitching stories to editors of major magazines. I wasn’t interested in joining freelance writing boards and doing content mill work. What I wanted was a viable business centered around writing and creativity, one that I controlled. My big picture began to crystallize and I finally had a clear direction in sight. Now I just had to start climbing my staircase.
Steps To Success: Ten Goals, Ten Actions
The very first step on your staircase should be breaking down that now clear picture into ten goals. Here is an example of how to do this:
Big Picture: I have a wildly successful business centered around creativity and writing which brings me financial freedom.
Now you just have to break that big picture down into ten goals with ten steps.
- I have 3 or more new clients a month.
- Announce business on social media.
- I have an income of $10K or more a month.
- Create a website for business and get business cards printed.
- I respect my work time.
- 15-minute intervals of hyper-focus with no distractions.
- I am organized.
- Plan out each project in detail with deadlines.
- I am productive.
- Create a productivity system and track all progress.
- My failures are lessons learned.
- Keep a spreadsheet of failed attempts and why they didn’t work.
- I finish all projects.
- Keep idea board. Mark them off the list one by one but do not begin until the last one is complete.
- I have a clear direction and brand.
- Work on branding exercises and post only things that coincide with the brand.
- I am constantly learning new ways to improve my business.
- Take one class a week via skillshare or other online sources to improve business.
- I am financially free.
- Create a budget and work on debt.
Get yourself a journal. Every morning, write your ten goals out and a new step for you to take that day to reach it. If it helps, you can break this down into weekly goals and focus on one of the ten each week. The point is to keep them fresh in your mind and begin your day this way. At the end of your day, you can journal about what worked and what didn’t. Then, you can reflect at the end of the week. Stay tuned for next week’s article where we will discuss tools that can help you stay organized and productive!