Welcome to a very special series on Upstarts: Making your dream a reality. We’re going to push out a new blog post every day, so if you haven’t already, I’d recommend subscribing! Or, you can read Part 1 or Part 2 Today’s topic is on getting started by making a plan! Gonna be a good one.
From dreams and visions to goals and plans
Once you’ve begun to crystallize on your dream a bit and now you’re starting to see more detail, it should begin to get a little more meat on it’s bones. Now it’s time to start setting some goals and making a plan.
“The difference in a dream and a goal is a plan.”
You need a plan – and you know what’s funny about a plan? A plan begins to take shape when you begin to try to plan things. It sounds dumb, but I can’t tell you how often I’ve had no clue where to go next, but when I sit and meditate on it (for at least a few minutes, maybe more, over a period of days) and begin to attempt a plan – a plan begins to fall into place, one piece at a time. You just have to start. Set small goals that you know you can hit – think in baby steps. If your dream is to be a writer, start a blog and post once every 2 weeks. If you’re wanting to be a freelance illustrator, you need to volunteer and take on small gigs to build up your portfolio, even if it’s just friends and family. If you set a goal and don’t reach it, don’t freak out! Like I said last time, you’re going to blow it at times. Just pick yourself up and set a goal that’s closer to home. Baby steps.
The second most important thing about goals (other than setting them and starting small) is growing them. You will not grow, move to the next level or get better at anything without a challenge. In my effort to lead by example, I can tell you that this series right here is part of me growing my own goals. I’ve never done a blog post series that was this challenging, but I committed to publish a new post every day for 5 days – we’ll see how the work pays off.
Now that you’ve begun setting concrete goals, and growing them, the last thing to do is to track your progress. I highly recommend journaling on a very regular basis. My blog serves as something of a “lessons learned” journal, but you should also be keeping track of things that you don’t necessarily want to share with everyone else, such as mistakes you’ve made or an idea your considering but don’t want to be publicly known yet.
There’s a ton of journaling software out there, but the one I’ve been able to stick with the best is Oh Life – it’s as easy as replying to an email, and the really neat thing is they will remind you of what you wrote in the past – it’s a great way to reflect and remind yourself of things you need to remember.
The last thing I want to say about Goals and Planning is that it’s important that you get it done, but don’t be afraid to jump around a bit and experiment. You don’t like journaling with software and prefer to write it out on paper – no problem! Do what works for you. You can also try different things as far as length of planning. I know that Jason Fried of 37signals has said that they typically don’t plan more than 2 weeks out, and I know others that tend to go a little longer. If setting a yearly plan or 5-year plan seems too daunting, don’t do that! Just try to figure out what you’ll do tomorrow and maybe the rest of this week. Baby steps!
Goals and planning are probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself if you want grow personally and professionally. I hope you’ll take what you’ve read to heart and begin to intentionally move forward! Okay, we’ve reached the halfway point! It just gets better from here – next up is a great piece on “get friendly” – come check it out!