Coming Into Focus
Most dreams don’t start out as clear goals. They begin as hazy ideas, far out in the distance, surrounded by a host of other contenders for your time and attention. If you don’t clear the clutter, you’ll remain bogged down by daily routine and never find the focus you need to pursue something bigger.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book, travel the world, work from home, or start your own company. When those dreams begin, the magnitude of them can derail your focus on the details – I speak from experience here – but breaking it down into bite-sized chunks can help get you moving again.
Just like your mother always reminded you: Take Smaller Bites
- “I need a 300 page manuscript.” Big pictures can be useful for motivating you to start, but when it comes down to the daily “to do” lists, focus on the individual steps: “I need to write one page today.” You may discover that by taking “smaller bites,” you’ll find inspiration to do a little bit more until, suddenly, you have a chapter, and then a book!
- “I want to run my own business.” Long-term visions should be broken down into short-term tasks. Build a website, create a logo, work on a sales pitch, ask for endorsements, do some jobs pro bono to develop a base that will recommend you to their (paying) friends. If you’re not sure about how to do something, find a mentor, dust off that library card, or sign up for a Lynda.com account and make continuing education a priority.
- “I want to retire early.” Saying it is one thing – setting a goal and making a step-by-step plan to get there is something entirely different. If you don’t know how much you spend each month, retirement is out of the question. Start small, track your expenses, talk to a financial planner, live on the minimum, and automate your saving. If you want to set those kinds of goals for the future, then you have to take action today.
If you’re anything like me, then you already know what you want to do. You might even have a good grasp on the next steps to take in the journey, but something is stopping you. Ah yes, the excuse. The reason you haven’t made any forward movement toward your goals. Do any of these sound familiar?
- You have “no” time. This has to be one of the most common excuses, and yet those who can’t find 30 minutes in the day to work on their business plan or book proposal can magically find two hours for “must see” TV or mindless internet surfing. STOP. You have a choice: do what’s easy, or do what’s required. It’s time to start telling your time where to go. Recommended Reading: These books from Laura Vanderkam – 168 Hours, What the Most Successful People Do on the Weekend, and What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast
- You think it’s the “right idea, wrong time.” Launching a business or writing a book doesn’t happen overnight, it happens in stages. My husband is always reminding me, “the timing is never going to be right,” in other words – now or never, make a choice. The dream is too crazy, the timing too lousy, the future too distant? STOP. Maybe the timing is wrong for the end goal (“sell it all and move to Paris!”), but nothing’s stopping you from the actions required to get you there (meet with a financial planner, sign up for language classes, online research). Recommended Reading: Today Matters by John Maxwell.
- You think you’re “too old” or “too young.” You’re going to be doing something when you’re 40 (or 50, or 60) years old, so do something you enjoy! Don’t allow age, education, or pride derail your dreams – go back to school, apply for an internship, or volunteer for a cause that excites you. Maybe you’re unique, like my brother, and found your passion straight out of school – “too young” didn’t stop him. Or recall the words of Thomas Edison when a fire destroyed his work, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.” – “too old” wasn’t an option. Recommended Reading: Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Danial Harkavy.
Choose your focus, and get to work.