There it is. The mountain in front of you. Waiting to be hurdled so you can get started in the pursuit of your dreams and goals. There’s no way around it. It must be tackled. Progress must commence.
When it comes to beginning the pursuit of our dreams, most of us have no idea where to start. Eventually allowing ourselves to be filled with the pressure of it all, we become paralyzed. We get no where. Progress does not commence.
Or some of us do just enough to get started and then don’t follow through. I’ve done this plenty of times. I start this cool new “thing” and tell a bunch of people about it and then my inspiration fizzles out in about a week. Then decide I just wasn’t that passionate about it after all.
Getting started and continuing can be difficult. There are a few things that I have found to keep me focus and grounded.
Here are 6 things to help you get started and stay focused:
- Create a master plan.
Have you ever seen a house built without plans? Me neither. They generally begin with a blueprint; a sketched layout of the floor plan, equipped with rooms, doors and windows. There might be additional sketches mapping out the plumbing and electrical throughout. But it begins with a skeleton. If all the detail was right there to begin with, it would be a cluttered mess and difficult to follow. Our initial structure of our goal or aspiration should be very simple and clean. So, begin with deciding on your big picture and break it down into its simplest form. Meaning, you might start with where you would like it to be in 1 year. Then work backwards to decide what that is going to take. I write, so for me, that may look like a 75,000 word non-fiction book. I know my topic already, so I decide the breakdown and flow of the book by charting it out into chapters. For you, it could be becoming a fashion designer and your goal is to have a closet full of items to showcase within 6 months. You decide you will need to have 4 sections in your closet for items of all for 4 seasons. Whatever your dream or goal is, Be intentional about big picture planning up front. Know what you are working towards. If you don’t have a target, mentally, there’s no way to track and measure your progress. Also, without a big picture plan, you may be tempted to release something haphazardly. When something is not presented the right way initially, it is difficult to get it on track later down the road. Give your big picture time to incubate. This will help prevent something from fizzling out later, or releasing the wrong idea altogether.
- Break the big picture into bite sized snacks.
You know those bite sized snacks that you always end up eating far more than originally intended? They are so small that you convince yourself to eat plenty of them, eventually totaling out to be several of the candy bars you avoided in the first place? Well, they are on to something psychologically, there. We can take our big picture goals and break them down into smaller steps that are much more realistic, removing the element of being overwhelmed with such a daunting task. Let’s go back to the book example. If I know I need to write a minimum of 75,000 words and I have a goal of writing this book in 4 months, I can break it down into smaller portions for myself. That would be 18,750 words a month, which would be 4,687 a week or 670 a day. 670 words a day. That is doable. Suddenly, the overwhelming task of writing a book isn’t so overwhelming. It’s doable. More than doable, as this 1 blog post is far more than 670 words and is written in one or two sittings. Suddenly, I am no longer paralyzed.
- Establish Habits.
Now to get those words written and to stay on task, I have to establish a routine. This routine may consist of quarterly, weekly and daily habits. If I need to write 670 words a day, I need to make sure that I have time set aside to accomplish this task. My morning routine looks like me waking up several hours before going to my day job, mapping out my day (broken down by every half an hour), scheduling in my exercise, my writing time and everything in between. It is possible to have a routine for those of us who do not work a regular 9-5 type of schedule. It may seem rigid, but for the days you fall off the wagon, you can’t be too hard on yourself. It happens. It takes time to build new habits. People say, approximately 21 days, some studies say sooner. Have grace with yourself.
- Accountability and inspiration from others.
Have you heard the quote, “Do not cast your pearls before swine?” It’s good advice. But what it doesn’t say is “Don’t tell anybody about your pearls.” It’s important to share our dreams with others. Although, Science has proved that merely sharing our dreams with others can sometimes bring enough temporary fulfillment than actually pursuing them. There needs to be a balance. Many people know what my goals and aspirations are. A few, I meet with frequently to make sure I stay on track. I texted my friend, Fadi about a month ago telling him I needed “A kick in the pants.” Which means, “Let’s have coffee and remind each other why we are doing what we are doing, again.” We share our progress and what we are working on; or sometimes, what we aren’t working on. I generally leave those meetings feeling renewed and ready to kick ass again. I also have moments where others inspire me. When I see others out there, pursuing what they are passionate about, it lights a fire within me. Surround yourself with others who are taking action in the field you want to impact. Find groups that meet to discuss and learn from each other. Connect with other humans. We need each other.
- Continue learning.
We can only get so far with our limited knowledge and understanding. Plenty of us may not have the slightest idea on where or how to start. Yes, we have a master plan and know some steps to take, but we need a little bit more than that. Skill. Skill is required. I know there is a whole lot of “Fake it till you make it” out there, which may work for some of this or for a short period of time but it is not sustainable. Invest in yourself. Invest in your craft. The interesting part about living in our time is that almost everything has been done before and we can also probably find it on the internet. Information is more available to us than ever before. We are in the technology age and if we actually harnessed the accessibility of technology in the right way, the sky is the limit. I’m not talking about getting the ultimate high score on candy crush. I am talking about tapping in to the most vast resource of knowledge and information that has ever existed. Free how-to videos, online webinars, entire books on your cell-phone, it is all available to us if we just took advantage of it. Feed your mind. Challenge what’s out there. Evolve it to better us. Evolve to a better you. If you are always learning, you are always growing. If you are always growing, you can challenge yourself to stay relevant and always have something to offer. Things go obsolete real quick these days. Don’t let that happen to you or your dream. Learn. Evolve.
- Keep your promises.
The very last tip in helping you get started and remain focused, is to keep your promises…to yourself. I consider myself to be a woman of my word. I will do whatever it takes to keep my promises, unless it’s to myself. We all could probably stand to be a bit better with that. So when you finally commit to yourself to set out and take some action, don’t break your promise. It’s easy to get derailed, to give up, to refuse to shake it off after a fall. Remind yourself that you made a commitment to your endeavors. If you were giving advice to somebody you cared about after a moment of discouragement, you’d remind them to remain committed and that failure is temporary. Treat yourself the same. Keep going. There was a reason you started.
So what are you waiting for? You told yourself you were going to go do that thing, remember? You need you to do it. We need you to do it.
Now go get started.