Do you find yourself making the same New Year’s resolutions every year and giving up on them before February? Do you envy your friends who have moved to a new company, a new city or started a new business for themselves? How often do you get discouraged about your life and vow to make changes? Have you ever considered that first step…and then decided not to try?
OK, it’s time to jump from “Someday I’d like to…” to starting to move toward turning those dreams into reality.
Clearly you have concerns; you’re hesitant, maybe a little chicken…maybe more than a little chicken. Well, it’s time to take at least a few steps in the direction of making your dreams come true. Here’s a secret anyone who’s made a big change in their life knows – big steps start out with baby steps. Let’s tackle some of the things you can do to jump into making it happen.
Write it down: Dreams become more possible when they’re down on paper. No, this is not the time for a digital effort – use longhand and find a favorite pen – you will be writing fast, crossing things out and adding words and adjectives. Paint your ideas in big letters and be as descriptive as you can. Don’t limit your dreams – it’s on paper so there’s no reason to trim your goals. Put everything down. Do you want to have your company reach the Fortune 500 in your lifetime? Would you like to be some magazine’s entrepreneur of the year? Plan to write a best-seller talking about how you became so successful? This is not a time to be shy or modest. Write it – write it all!
What’s the worst…: Here’s a tougher assignment. Write down everything that could go wrong. Put down all of your fears and describe your possible failures. Keep asking yourself what’s the worst that could happen if you go for your dreams and write down the answers – all of them. Now… take a look at those awful possibilities and truly ask yourself how bad it would be if some or all of them happened. Much of the time your lurking fears don’t look as bad once you pull them out from under the bed and review them in daylight. Here’s the last question you need to ask yourself on this step – would it be worth it? If the answer is yes then…
Make a plan: I know, this isn’t very exciting, but a plan gives your dreams a framework to start building toward reality. You’ve painted a picture of your dreams and investigated the worst possible scenarios. So now take those two insights and determine the best way to reach your dreams while minimizing the downside. Include a timeline and a budget and put in every step you think you’ll need to take to make it happen. If you don’t have an answer but know you’ll need one, put in the question and leave a blank. Some of it may be best guess, but wherever you can, do your research to get accurate information. When you have it as complete as you can make it, take a minute to feel really good because you’ve made a huge step toward making your dreams really happen.
Share: Who do you respect when it comes to business? Your mom or dad? An old teacher? Some of your friends? Pull your plan together and ask for a really big favor – see if they’ll take a look at it and give you suggestions. Now this is not the time to look for an ego boost. You want blunt honesty here. Be sure to let them know that if they think it’s a lot of bunk they need to let you know in no uncertain terms. You’re looking for criticism. If there are problems, now is the time to find out. If the whole plan is flawed, you don’t want to dive in and fail just because your friends or family don’t want to hurt your feelings. This is absolutely the best time to fail – when everything is still only on paper.
Now you’re not necessarily going to fail. You may have an idea as amazing as you think it is. In that case, there are still going to be flaws in your plan because only one brain put it together. Every additional person you cajole or coerce into reviewing your plan will have a valuable and different perspective, and this will make your plan better.
Start: If all the pieces have come together and you’ve gathered as much information and insight as you can, then get going. You have all the steps laid out in order in your plan, so what’s stopping you? If you’re still hesitant, go back and review the worst possible scenarios again. Then put on your big person pants and jump in.
- Adam Toren
Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of the award winning books, Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right. Their latest project is a free classified ads network called: iSell.com.