Start Small (and crush your goals just for you)

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It’s been a while since I’ve focused on what I enjoy.  Life seems to keep getting in the way. And I’ve had my focus in other places – growing family, life goals and work. I’ve come up with excuse after excuse and labeled them reason after reason – everything seemed valid for pushing what was important to me aside to get other things done.

But no more! I’m proud to say, I’ve made great progress this year in many areas and the goal I’ve been working toward is within my grasp.  Even when you feel like you’re at the starting line, I encourage you to make a plan to make progress. Here is what I did:

Focus on small goals.  

I had a baby in December and I gained a lot of weight (ok, it was a normal amount, but it felt like a lot).  I’ve been working steadily since then to lose weight, build muscle and eat clean.  In the last 6 months, I’ve lost all the baby weight (hooray!).  It wasn’t easy, but it certainly was doable.  I will write about the details later, but the short story is – I focused on a small goal to make it happen.  I watched each meal and each day with a goal of losing 2 oz to 4 oz.  It didn’t seem like much, but it adds up to about 6 lbs per month and over time, that makes a big difference!

When you have a major goal that you need to accomplish, break it down into tiny pieces. Seriously, tiny bite-sized (like 1 oz) pieces.  The smaller your goal, the more realistic it seems and the closer you get to your overall achievement.

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Turn Your Passion Into A Paycheck

Image-1I was speaking with someone recently about volunteering with my organization and they told me they couldn’t.  You see, they were bitter that their passions weren’t coming to fruition to help pay the bills.  They were too busy, too tired and too annoyed to help me.

It made me think about how often I hear this from others.  They’ve discovered their passions and are excited to live a life of bliss.  Then they seem to be disappointed when life gets in the way of living each day to their passionate potential.

Here’s what I’ve learned about turing your passions into a paycheck:

Realize it’s going to take (lots of) hard work to accomplish your passion

Your dream job isn’t going to fall into your lap.  It’s going to take time, energy and investment to make your dream happen and you need to be ready to make progress now, so you can reach your goal and dreams later.

Think about what you need to accomplish to get where you want to be.  Sometimes it’s easiest to write the end goal and work backwards.  You may need to volunteer with organizations to build your skill set and resume, you may need to seek help of others that can mentor and guide you, you may need to attend more networking events and build your connections.

Every single thing you do that gets you closer to your goal is a step in the right direction.  Even if it’s a tiny step, it’s still progress.  When you’re working on your timeline, be realistic and aggressive with your goals. You may realize it’s going to take months or years to get to the end result – but if it’s your dream – then it’s worth it.  Don’t get discouraged, just “keep swimming” and soon you’ll be there.

Schedule time to accomplish your passion

I love to write and design and realized that I’d gone months without focusing on either of these things.  And I immediately discovered the problem: I didn’t have either one in my schedule.  When you schedule time to accomplish your passion, you’re more likely to accomplish them – your passions are an important meeting, you deserve to spend time on yourself.

I’ve noticed the more time I spend in things I enjoy, the more excited I get about these things and the more progress I make toward my goals.  I encourage you to schedule time today to regularly work on things that are important to you. Make a list of goals, work regularly at these goals and check of your accomplishments.

Find your passion in your current surroundings

Even more than writing and designing,  I love to organize.  When I see something that is a hot mess, I start to get excited.  I also love meetings, projects, task lists and results.  And guess what kinds of jobs I’ve naturally gravitated toward in the past decade? Jobs that have meetings, projects, task lists and start as a hot mess.  I’ve realized the more I see the small things that I love come to fruition within my job (where I earn my paycheck), I’m more alive, I feel more accomplished and I’m more invested.

You are wired to make a difference and if you aren’t in a job that supports your (tiny) passions: Make a plan to make changes now.  Maybe it’s speaking to your supervisor about your responsibilities. Maybe it’s dusting off your resume and using your network to find your new (dream) job.

What was most interesting about the conversation I’d mentioned earlier is that the person that was too bitter to help, was turning his back on a volunteer opportunity that would have built his network and probably given him the chance to meet someone to help him move his paycheck to be more in line with his passions.  

He’s not alone.  So many are just waiting for the opportunity to fall in their lap.  It’s not going to happen.  You are going to have to work – starting today – to make changes in your life to get what you want.  Whatever you need to do to turn your passions into a paycheck, you deserve to find this fulfillment in your full-time responsibilities. I encourage you to be brave enough to try.

Don’t Wait Until You Are Ready. Start Today.

I heard advice recently that you shouldn’t wait until you are ready.  Because if you wait until you’re completely ready, you’ll probably never do anything.  It made me remember how important it is to take risks, to make progress every day, and to purposefully spend time developing your next step.  I know I need to practice this even more than I currently do and I encourage you to do the same.  Start something now, even before you think you’re ready.

Start when the idea is just an idea.

I spend many of my days in brainstorming mode.  And I come up with some crazy ideas.  Some are crazy good and some are crazy terrible.  But all of them are worth their time and discovery.  Staying in full-thinking brainstorming mode forces me to create and develop tons of ideas and helps me move forward before I’m entirely sure of the end result.

I encourage you to spend a regular amount of time each week thinking up new, crazy ideas. In fact, I want you to schedule that time – it could be your workout time, it could be in the shower, it could be at 4am (when I unintentionally do some of my best brainstorming). You’ll start to notice that you look forward to that time and can think more clearly and purposefully with your big ideas.

Start when the idea scares you.

Recently, a friend applied for a promotion at his current job.  His response when asked, “Well, they’ll either hire me or hire someone better than me.”  I was impressed with this thought process and wondered how ready he’d felt when he applied.  I’d bet he felt mostly ready to take on a new position like this.  If you wait until you’re completely ready, you’re already too late.  To late for the job, the experience, the chance.

I encourage you to move forward when you feel about half-way ready.  You should feel a little scared-excited with what you’re planning to do.  Once you’ve figured out this scary step, be purposeful with your time and effort to help make this step happen.  You’ll start to notice that scared-excited begins to look more and more exciting when you really make progress.  And soon you’ll be right where you want to be.

Start when things will get messy.

I love a clean process, it’s refreshing to get things done and have them turn out exactly as planned.  Do you know what never happens for me? A perfectly neat and tidy process.  You know what I’ve learned over the years?  To enjoy the mess.  In fact, now I really look forward to it.  I know things are going to get messy and disorganized. And that’s OK. Because eventually, the same things will get cleaner and organized and totally make sense.

I encourage you to look forward to the mess.  Try to do a little something each day.  My house is full of projects, my office is full of tasks and I have lists and lists of ideas to start.  Each of them have their own life cycle of ideas, mess and success.  I know where I am with each item because I focus on a little each day.  And I know it will get messy, but I know I’ll also make progress.  You may only have fifteen minutes – use it.  Doing a little bit every single day will make a big difference over time.

It’s easy to wait until you’re totally ready to do anything.  It’s too easy.  Don’t let yourself get that complacent. Start before you are ready and you’ll start to notice how much progress you can make.

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My recent failures & lessons

I’m currently experiencing a lesson in humility. Not just today, it’s really been a month-long lesson that I’m gifted with every year.  The start of school brings many exciting surprises and for my job, tons of work, stress and opportunities. Right now, I’m double busy with work, the kids are busy with school–which means we’re busier with the kids, and I’m tired all of the time.

I’m not at my best right now and I start to make mistakes more regularly and then have to refocus to learn from my failures. I’ve seen some of my opportunities and I’m (eventually) happy to share them with you:

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