I think there’s something to be said for those who are relentless in pursuing their dreams. So many people talk of success, but very few are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. We often ridicule those who have tons of ideas that never seem to pan out, without giving credit for them not only having a plan, but mustering up the courage to take the leap and execute it.
Instead, those with closeted ambition and weak commitment throw stones to shatter the dreams of others.
But they are the ones who truly deserve the ridicule. We are the Alices caught in the looking glass between Wonderland and Reality, watching our true selves fast asleep in the green pastures, while life happens and passes us by.
I admit that there have been numerous occasions where I have found myself on both sides of that mirror. How about you? Well if you’re anything like me, you’re not going to be content with being a dreamer for long. Do you have a fabulous idea burning in the back of your mind but have no idea how to get started? Below is a tried and proven strategy to help you organize your thoughts and develop a manageable plan to bring your dreams to fruition.
Think it -All great ideas begin as a thought. We see a need and we think, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if someone would…..(insert brilliant idea)?” It’s crucial that you don’t dismiss those thoughts because they could be the start of an amazing project!
Write it – According to national studies, the average human brain has over 3,000 thoughts per day. Now of course, you’re not going to write down all 3,000 of those thoughts, nor would you probably want to. But when you have a great idea, don’t take for granted that you’re going to remember it later. Grab a piece of paper and write as much as you can down, preferably in a notebook that you revisit often. I’m a bit manic about capturing my thoughts so I went out to Barnes & Nobles and bought a package of 3-4 of those cute Moleskine notebooks and stashed them all around my apartment and in my purses. This way, I’ll never miss an opportunity to write down an idea.
If you’re more technologically inclined and your smart phone or tablet is like a third hand, I highly recommend downloading an app such as Evernote to keep track of your thoughts when you’re…say…driving and are hit with a good idea.
Speak it and seek advice about it – Great ideas are useless if you keep them to yourself. Share them with a friend or colleague who you feel comfortable with. I typically have one or two people in my circle that I love to bounce ideas off of because I trust them to be honest with me and give me constructive feedback. I’m a collaborator by nature so I thrive off of idea sharing and often times, one quick conversation with a friend can enhance the quality of my idea so much that it ends up being even better than I originally imagined.
Plan it – So after thinking, writing, and discussing; if you feel like you have a winner, now the real work begins. Lately I’ve become obsessed with vision boards because they give me a visual representation of my vision for the project. I organize the vision into steps and then cut out pictures and words that demonstrate each step that I want to take to bring the idea into fruition. I also start to make a list of all the resources I’m going to need to complete the project.
(For those of who you are interested in learning how to use vision boards, I’ll be writing a follow-up post to discuss how I use vision boards now to flesh out ideas and actualize projects.)
Now if you’re more of a list person, make a list, preferably in chronological order, of what it’s going to take to execute the project. I would suggest using legal size paper though so that you can get as much of the plan on one page as possible. This will help you get a full view of the plan.
Execute it – With your blue print in hand, decide which steps need to happen first. Words of caution…DO NOT TRY TO DO EVERYTHING AT ONCE. This will only overwhelm you and make you feel like the task is too daunting. In reality, it may be a huge undertaking, But if you tackle it in bits, it becomes more manageable. Evaluate what you have time to take on now and give yourself a time limit for each task, allotting a reasonable amount of time commensurate with the amount of work most likely needed.
Lastly, don’t stop until it’s finished. There’s no point in following the tips laid out in this post if you don’t have a mind to finish. Even if it takes you longer than expected, don’t stop. You may need to go back and re-adjust the plan at times, but you should always have the mindset that you are going to finish what you started.
What ideas are burning a hole in your head? I’d love to hear them! Sound off in the comments box.