Almost everyone I’ve ever talked to has a dream project. Sometimes it’s the only thing they talk about, but other times it’s tucked deep inside, waiting to be coaxed out.
Is it to run a marathon? Open a bakery? Write your grandmother’s biography? Build the raddest treehouse ever in the backyard? Get your black belt?
For many of us the daily pressures of work and life lead to putting these projects off indefinitely. Let’s face it – at the end of a stressful work day, the last thing most of us want to do is rally the mental troops to tackle a tough project.
At the moment, it may feel like the more convenient choice to just pour a glass of wine and open a good book. But in the end, if you don’t start working on things now, you may never.
What are you waiting for?
Here are six things you can do today to get your dream project rolling.
1. Decide why it matters
Why do you want to take this project on? This could run the gamut of mastering a new skill for fun to wanting to launch a business that will allow you to quit your day job. By understanding why this is so important, it’ll be easier to stay on target on those Sunday nights when you’d rather be watching Game of Thrones with the rest of the world.
Whether this is a childhood dream of being a doll maker, or a recent obsession with scaling El Capitan, you need to decide today how serious you are about achieving it. Decide why it matters, write it on a Post-it, and use that to motivate yourself to step away from the Facebook and do something amazing.
2. Stop telling yourself you’ll do it “someday”
To be fair, there are plenty of projects you will do someday. I’m currently in the middle of writing two novels on the side of my regular job – so when I started talking through a third idea with my husband his response was, appropriately, “You’re not going to start working on that now, are you?”
But you need to know the difference between not having capacity to take on this project right now, and procrastinating by coming up with excuses. Be honest about the difference between not having time because you’re spending your evenings remodeling your kitchen, and because you’re spending your evenings binge-watching Netflix.
3. Set goals – both big and small
Having a concrete deadline is one of the best ways to anchor your “someday” dream in reality.
Would you like to have enough paintings to show in your local coffee shop next summer? Do you want to launch your startup this fall? Do you hope your pie-baking business will support you full time by 2016? Do you plan to learn Arabic before your trip to Egypt next October?
Set an overall deadline for when you’d like to achieve your goal – this may change as you get started, but once you at least set a deadline you’ll be more likely to go after it.
Once you have your overall goal, extrapolate that down to the smaller milestones and targets that will keep you on track.
4. Put it on your schedule
This is your dream project, and it won’t happen if you don’t make time for it! Block off time on your calendar, and treat that time as sacred.
Treat it like you would a lunch date with your boss’s boss, or your anniversary, or your BFF’s 40th birthday bash. You wouldn’t miss any of those things for the world – so don’t let something as simple as “I should do the dishes” get in the way of your sacred dream-project time.
Don’t get overly ambitious at first, or you may burn out right away. For now, just pick a few times in the next week and commit to making it happen.
5. List out what you need
This is the brain dump phase. What materials do you need to get started? What skills will you need to acquire? Who’s help will you need to enlist? What are the first steps?
This could be a huge list, or it could still be amorphous. The point right now is to jot down everything that you currently know about the project. This process helps move it from the “wouldn’t this be nice” section of your brain and anchor it in the “Hey, I’m doing this!” area.
As you go on, you’ll start to refine this list in conjunction with your goals, coming up with a solid plan that will carry you through to the end. But for now, just get words down on paper.
6. Do one thing
Choose one thing on your list and do it. Today.
- Emailing your local coffee shop to set up an art show for next year.
- Telling your family that you’ll need some quiet time on Saturday mornings.
- Enrolling in a small business class at your local community college.
- Opening up a blank document and typing, “It was a dark and stormy night….”
- Buying a brand new set of pens and a journal to inspire you.
What one thing will you do today? What small step will you take towards achieving your dream?
Leave a note in the comments to let us know.
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