What to do When the Big Ideas Seem Overwhelming

prof1I had a grand idea this weekend. Huge. Something that made me smile and sit in fear at the same time. Its something that would allow me to have the outlet for every wandering and every goal I have ever wanted to accomplish. Yes its that big. And requires more than I have and more than I would’ve have thought I could give. This Big Idea scares me, but at the same time it consumes me so that I can’t not try and figure it out.

And yet I am afraid to share it. I know I need to share it, seek help but part of me is afraid of failure. Part of me is sure others will say it is impossible. And they will. I’ve already been told that part of who I am and who I want to be is just unrealistic.

But what do you do when you discover something you truly believe is your life purpose but you are terrified of becoming.

Most would say start small. Focus on the little steps. Great ideas, but what if the little steps just are not enough?

Others would say make lists, write about it, tell someone – surely someone will have something to say about it. And I’m sure they would. But hearing that my big idea is impossible, improbably or just plain silly are not the words I want to hear.

Making lists, planning all are good steps but I don’t want to get stuck in the planning phase forever. How do I move from planning to doing?

First I have to tell someone. Share the idea. Get them excited. Find help on how to move from thinking to planning to doing.

Surround myself by people who would support success, guard me from failure. Not those who would suggest that it is impossible, improbable and unrealistic.

Figure out what can I do? How do I get there? I know part of it. I know it will take time (patience is not my strong suit) and resources that I do not currently have. How can I get them?

Finally stop thinking and start doing something. I know what I want. I know (somewhat) what I need to get there. But none of it will happen if I don’t start something. Are there compromises that have to be made? Yes, but it can be done without sacrificing myself. Small projects can be done that still fall within who am I and moving towards my end goal.

Big ideas are like that. Overwhelming, scary – so much so that they seem impossible. But they consume you until you move forward and try or burn out and mourn the loss. And losing the big idea is truly something to mourn.

What big ideas have consumed you. Are you moving towards them? Have you accomplished them? Share – thoughts and inspirations please.

Grounded–Thoughts on Big Ideas

IMG_1766As the name of this space may suggest I am a bit of a dreamer. I love to come up with new ideas, theorize and think of the impossible becoming possible. However as a wanderer its easy to get lost in the big idea and lose the details along the way. I will readily admit that a lot of my big ideas got lost because I get so focused on the end result that I forget that all big ideas have to start with the small details.

Luckily I am working my way past that. Nothing gets accomplished if you don’t take the first step. Its great to have the big ideas but they mean nothing if there is no follow through.

So what can you do to keep yourself from getting swallowed by your dreams.

1. Keep yourself grounded.

For me this is really hard. I am impatient. I want the payoff to happen as quickly as possible. My husband on the other hand is far more grounded. He appreciates the big idea but recognizes the small steps it takes to get there. I set big goals for our family and he reminds me to remember the essentials (stability, patience, and planning).

Find someone who can help keep you grounded. Some people call this an accountability partner. I think it should be something more than that. You need someone you can pour your big idea out to and then they will say more than – oh that’s great! You want someone who will ask the hard questions – how will it get done? What steps will you take?

2. Change the goal.

Like most people after the New Year I wanted to focus on getting my body into shape. I could certainly benefit from losing a few pounds (baby weight on top of already being chubby overweight). But I didn’t want to run the risk of getting burnout by watching the scale. So many diets and exercise programs fail because you lose a lot of weight in the beginning but then the pace tapers. Or you get burnt out. So I changed my goal.

Instead of watching my weight I am gauging my fitness feeling. I started with Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred. The first day was tough – my legs hurt and don’t get me started on that 2 minute cardio section in the middle. So I made it my goal to get through a full minute of the cardio section without dying. I also paid attention to how my body felt each day. Because it’s everyday it is noticeable when you start to feel stronger and more physically fit.

I can gladly say I can do 1 minute so far, now I’m shooting for 90 seconds.

And instead of getting stuck on watching numbers drop I have palatable results already because I can feel the difference. Losing 1 or 2 pounds isn’t that noticeable when you have a lot to lose, but you can gauge how much stronger you become. This can works for other goals too.

Starting a new business? Instead of focusing on how much money you are or are not making, focus on how many clients you can serve.If you know you want to bring in 10 new clients a month focus on how to get that accomplished.

When you change the defining factor it changes the mindset and can change the stress related to the action.

IMG_03103. Focus on the small steps.

Big goals often have many steps along the way. Break them down. Make each little step your goal. Many people do this when they are trying to get out of debt. The Debt Snowball is successful because you start small and eliminate each debt from smallest to biggest. These little victories keep up your momentum and are encouraging.

The best thing to do is make a plan and then think about the steps along the way. Look at the first step – what precisely needs to be done? Outline that step and start working on it. It sounds like a lot of work and it should be. Despite how quickly we want things done, getting the foundational work out of the way first will ensure success.

Plus it will give you the little victories needed to keep your momentum. Want to sell jewelry online? Fulltime? Challenge yourself to make the inventory first, say 15-20 pieces. Then you can focus on the next task, getting them listed while still building inventory.

4. Change your Why.

This has been the best method for me and I discussed it in my last post. Normally attached to Big Ideas are goals like more money, becoming “someone” or even simply to lose weight. But those aren’t personal enough. Yes everyone needs more money, would like to be well known (or at least remembered for something) and probably most people would say they could lose a little weight, but they don’t go far enough to have real meaning.

Why is that you want to earn more money? Make it as concrete as possible. This could be an object – a new computer, a savings goal or a debt payment but give it actual value. I want to be healthier because my daughter needs me to be has a lot more value than I want to lose weight so I can wear a smaller size.

Big Ideas are great. I love to have them. But when there is no follow through all they are is just thoughts in your head. Its only when we can move past our best laid plans and really focus that the biggest wins can occur.

What do you do to keep yourself motivated and focused? Have you had big plans that didn’t pan out? Or were you able to achieve your end goals? Please share your success and failures (cause it is only through failure that we learn)in the comments.

Saying vs. Doing

I struggle with this, maybe you do to. I say I’m going to do X and then sometimes it gets done and other times it doesn’t. Doesn’t happens far too often though.

What separates the Sayers vs. the Doers. For me I think a lot of the time is a lack of motivation or a lack of willpower. Think about it.

Its so easy to say I am going to do something. But saying isn’t enough. To get something done takes more than just words.

I can say I want to post 3 times a week, draw 2 times a week and write for other commitments 2-3 times a week. But if a system isn’t in place to make it happen, there is no reason for it to happen.

Merely wanting isn’t enough. We all want change. We all want to branch out of our comfort zones and take a step outside of our normal expectations. But inherently we lack the willpower to do so.

I think those that are most successful are those that force themselves to also be organized. We have to make ourselves goal orientated in order to achieve. Not only to just have goals but to also develop a concrete system in which we will achieve them.

For example I’ve decided that I will finally stop saying I should exercise and finally do exercise. But making it happen took more than me saying enough is enough. I also had to plan for a motivator. I decided that whenever Isabella would go down for her first nap I would take 30 minutes to do the exercise routine that I choose. Not only that but I scheduled a reminder time to go off in my Calendar. But I didn’t stop there. In order to make it the most effective I put in the WHY. The why is the reason things get done. my motivation

My why is this: I need to exercise so I can be in better shape. Why? Because Isabella needs me in better shape so that I can be healthy for her. This puts things into a whole different perspective. My reminder timer just says this :

"Exercise – for Isabella, your baby needs you healthy and whole get up and do it take 30 mins!"

Simple but effective. And it works.I can say I’ve followed it everyday so far (although I admit I missed Sunday although I plan to go twice tomorrow to make it for it.)

By simply putting in a motivator in the most precise terms it changes something from an abstract should do to a concrete must do.

I’m still working on this. I think that for a lot of us it is something that we need to work at. But by changing how we view the task it is certainly more manageable. When I view something in the perspective as I have to do it for X (e.g.: Isabella) than for me at least it is more likely to get done. There are some excellent pieces around the web that talk about this:

Ace Tough Job Interviews – by Ramit Sethi , this is a great read, big motivator. Ignore the title, this article applies to more than just job hunting, this is more like the interview skills for life itself. Skip to the end if you want but the whole thing is worth reading In my opinion. Has some great information on the psychology of wanting to do versus actionable steps to done.

What’s Your 2011? – by Tsh at SimpleMom.net I love Tsh’s writing style and everything about SimpleMom.net. This article explores the concept of saying no – that we don’t have to do everything to feel complete, but that doesn’t mean we stop achieving our end goals.

The Only 2 Things You Need to Do to Improve – from Success, Your Way (Life Your Way). This Article says everything I wanted to say above only so much better.

Do you struggle with being accountable to your want-to-do’s? What are your steps for being able to place that check mark on your to-do list? Share your tips and struggles in the comments.

Failure is Important

It's just Hair.

Photo by Striatic

On December 31st I woke up early, went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. For weeks I had been saying I needed to get my hair cut. The front was too long, the ends were split and I just didn’t like it. Sitting in the vanity was a pair of cuticle scissors and a hair tie.

So I did it.

I tied up my hair except the bottom and cut about an inch. Took down another layer, cut that and then started to cut smaller sections shorter, layering my hair as I went. I kept going with a third section and then the front. By the time I was done I had lost a bit of hair but still kept my over all length.

Which is exactly what I wanted. Every time I go to a hair salon I have to spend time explaining exactly what I want and then normally hear “Well we cant cut this like that or it will look weird.” or “Don’t cut your own hair – you will mess it up!”

But you know what I was thinking as I was cutting. Its Just Hair. Guess what, it grows back. In the end I cut the front pieces a little shorter than I would like and its probably a little thinner than I intended, but in a few weeks the front pieces will be longer, my hair will get a little fuller and over all I am perfectly happy with it.

But what if I had messed up?

Its just hair. I would have just had to cut some more and let it grow out again. Cutting my hair didn’t make a drastic change in my appearance. But it made a drastic change in how I appeared to me. And it feels great.

I know everything in life cannot equate to a simple haircut, but sometimes failure can be an option. How many times have you thought about doing something and then stopped? I do this all the time. From something small like not leaving a comment, to not actualizing an idea. What’s holding me back?

Fear.

Fear of failure is strong. Sometimes its as small as a fear of looking silly (failing to leave a comment). Or it can be big as actually failing say a business venture, getting into a top school, making new friends. But if we allow fear to keep us from trying then failure becomes the only option.

Failure is Optional.

Whenever we try something new there are always more than one outcome.

  • Success – getting the achievement you hoped for.

  • Something in between – not quite the goal you had in mind. Sometimes this is really positive and your end results are something better than you expected. But this can also be less than positive, not quite a failure but still needs work.

  • Failure – It can happen. Nothing is certain, but you can choose to let a failure shape you or you can choose to shape the failure.

By choosing to allow ourselves to fail, to even be prepared for it, we admit that we cant control everything, we are not perfect and even the best laid plans can result in catastrophe. But failure does not always have to be negative.

Failure is a learning experience.

By failing we learn. Even the best trained athlete miss, fail or don’t meet their expectations. That’s why they train. Failure is one way of training. Examine what went wrong, learn from it and try again.

Each time you try something new, instead of betting on a sure win, instead expect to succeed and fail. If you succeed, fantastic. If you fail, learn from it. Examine what went wrong? What can be changed? Most importantly try again.

Is this easy? Not by a long shot. But is it worth it? Every time. Whenever I allow myself to take a chance regardless of the the result Ive gained something. Going to law school – for me that was a failure, but I learned more about myself in those months. Travelling half-way across the country to meet someone I met only online – huge potential failure! But instead it was a huge success.

The point is to just try.

What have been some of your biggest successes? What have been some of your biggest failure? Did you allow yourself to learn from them? How did you move on? Share your tactics in the comments.

Goodbye 2010, Hello 2011

2010 is officially over! And 2011 is full of days to come with limitless potential. Inspired by suggestions at a couple of other blogs, instead of sharing and making resolutions (that many of us don’t keep), 2011 is all about the words. Words that are the goals, the descriptors of 2011. What will your 2011 look like? Heres mine (in no particular order):

  • Family
  • Creativity

    Photo by Alex Bartok

  • Simple
  • Productive
  • Innovative
  • Love
  • Financial Growth
  • Frugality
  • Decisive
  • Play
  • Health
  • Slow
  • Joy

I want 2011 to be about family. The growth and stability of my family learning to make what we value most reflect how we live our lives. No small task – but this list is one to grow with, not just for 2011. Here’s hoping that your 2011 will have as much joy and purpose.