Photo by Fran Ulloa via Creative Commons
It can be so hard to figure out where to begin when you have a big project that you want to accomplish.
There is that old advice, “Begin at the beginning,” but what if you don’t know where the beginning is? What if the project seems so big and overwhelming that it seems impossible? No project is impossible, really, though sometimes the end result looks a little different than you thought.
Here are some tips on getting from your vision to reality (and finding the path in between).
First, know your goal
Here is what I do. I start by looking at the future. What is my goal in approaching this project? Say I want to start a blog. What is my goal? Do I want to earn a tidy income? Do I want to build a community of like minds? Do I want to build a platform that will help me to launch other projects, like a book? Do I just want a place to write about what’s on my mind?
For this blog, my primary goal is to build a community. Which is not to say some of those other goals aren’t also true, but that’s my primary goal right now. Knowing my goal narrows down what I need to do and to know to get there.
Once your goal is clear to you, write it down. Be specific as possible. This may seem redundant, because, hey, you know what your goal is, right? But trust me, it is so easy to drift off of that target when you get into researching and other cool ideas pop into your head. So write it down.
There is great power in making this kind of clear statement. If you are a visual person, make a vision board that illustrates your goal and hang it somewhere where you will see it often. You don’t need to state your goal publicly, but put it somewhere where you can find it, because you will need to refer to it again and again.
Next, commit some time. You know best what will work with your life, but don’t expect that this will be easy. Can you get up an hour earlier in the morning? Can you book yourself for an hour or two on a weekend day? Can you commit one evening a week to working toward your goal? Find some space [link] and mark it on your calendar. Make an appointment with yourself and do not schedule over it!
You cannot make progress toward a goal if you don’t put time toward it. It is one thing to say you want something, but another thing to actually get there.
Make a List
Third, make a list of what you need to do to get from where to are to your goal. To launch my blog, my list included things like “buy a domain” and “make a list of article ideas.” Refer back to your goal statement often. When I was working on this blog I got sidetracked for quite a while researching how to monetize a blog. But then I reminded myself that my primary goal was to build a community. I didn’t need to know all about making an income right now, so I could move on.
If your individual steps feel too big, or if you when you look at your list you say, “I don’t know how to do that,” then make the tasks smaller. Before I could buy the domain for this blog I had to decide on a name, research if it was in use, and decide which host I wanted to use. There were three more steps that I had to take before I could remove “buy a domain” from my list.
Don’t get discouraged if your list gets longer and longer at this stage! Breaking down your list into achievable steps means you will complete them instead of feeling overwhelmed by them. For every step you finish you will be that much closer to your goal.
Get some support
Fourth, and possibly most important, enlist a cheering squad. Find someone, or several people, who will hold you accountable to your goal and cheer you on when you falter.
Be a little careful about who you pick, though. For some people your cheering squad may include a husband or parent or sibling, and for others it will definitely not include those people. Your cheering squad should be people who will be gentle with you, who will encourage you to stretch your boundaries, and who will not undermine or belittle you for struggling or feeling scared.
It is scary to take on new things, especially when they are close to your heart! Pick people to cheer you on who will be overjoyed for you when you achieve your goals.
Finally, finally, this is where you begin.
Show up to your scheduled time. Pick and item off your list and complete it. Pick another item and complete that. I love to keep the finished tasks where I can see them, either just crossing items off as I go or making a separate “Achievements” list (sometimes known as a “ta-dah!” list). Leave yourself a trail to see how far you have come for those days when it feels like you have been working on this for so long and the goal still feels so far off.
So you have begun. Congratulations! Keeping yourself going through the middle of a long project is a whole other post that I will be sharing with you soon. But you have done the most important part. You have taken the first step.
What project you are working on? Do you know what your goal is? Share it with me in a comment or send me an email!