How to get your dreams off the ground
Dreams are a beautiful struggle. We all have ideas that could send us to the stratosphere of richness and fame. Ideas that could bring a better life to others… but some of us just want to post a blog more than once a month. Whatever your dream or goal is you have to do something about it to make it happen. You need to begin a process that works for you to achieve milestones and ultimately your goals.
But beyond process are truths. Below I outline a few truths about reaching a goal or dream.
SACRIFICE IS ESSENTIAL
We all have something we refuse to sacrifice to make our dreams reality. This could be sleep, money, relaxation, or a social life. It could be time with children, eating a nice dinner with a spouse, or the great, new television show. We trade our time for something else every minute of the day. If you are pursuing a goal, time is the only thing you can’t afford to live without. No matter what this goal is — you must make time for it. To make the time — you must sacrifice.
I am not saying to stop your social life completely, but look at the time you waste. How many nights have you found yourself sitting in front of the TV or surfing the internet and two hours have gone by? Maybe you should wake up an hour early and complete 45 minutes of something you have always wanted to learn?
Make time for your dream through sacrifice. If you can’t make the time — maybe you need to realign your dreams and your expectations of what you can carry out and when. Be honest with yourself. The idea isn’t that your dream isn’t achievable with your current life, it’s just not going to get here any faster.
As a designer or entrepreneur you probably have more than three ideas cooking in that head of yours at one time. Some of these ideas you have started to develop and have juggled for a while. Maybe one is a website, the other an art project and the other is just a seed of an idea. You can’t seem to get any of them off the ground. I am not here to convince you to stop working on your ideas — quite the opposite — I am telling you to pick just ONE. Pick the idea you are most passionate about and focus on it. Put all of your positive energy into that one project.
You can then break down ONE goal into many little tasks that are executed quickly and more efficiently. I don’t have any facts or figures to back this up except my own experiences — but when you focus on one particular little task you can complete it faster. Not only that but you feel the progress of accomplishment and that you are one step closer to your goal. You should use that positive energy and build momentum upon it.
Put some of those ideas on the back-burner and focus on ONE SINGULAR GOAL. Break that goal into tasks and attack. You will be surprised how quickly you begin to move through a project when you continually build momentum.
CREATE A WORKING HABIT
As designers and entrepreneurs we are constantly looking forward to the next idea. We have eight great ideas and two million sketches of half-baked ones. This is how we live. A constant journey of development.
Most of us are in love with the process of design. The ideation, the thrill of the solution, the ability to put our pen to paper and make sense of a complicated problem with a few strokes of ink. Our love with process also has a dark side. Like all good drugs, it gets you high, and as you begin the process to carry out the idea, your interest wains… the high is now gone. Reality creeps back in. The what-ifs! The challenges! The real world! So, we jump. We move on to the next idea and junk the old one before it was ever realized.
You must have strength to beat the addiction of “new ideas” and move forward by developing them successfully. You need to institute a process in which you work the best. For me its a certain type of music on my home surround sound system, I then take my MacBook Pro into the living room, set it at the breakfast bar, and sit in front of it until something happens. It’s that simple. I call this my “working habit” — I developed it so that I could consistently execute ideas over time.
A big part of building a “working habit” is to be self-aware enough to know when you have gone off track. There was a point where I had to unplug the wireless router just so I would stop surfing the internet, or throw my phone into another room. If you can control your time-wasting you are one step closer to being able to develop your “working habit”.
You must consistently approach your work in the same manner over a long period of time to create the habit. You must use your strength on the worst days to accomplish something — even it isn’t usable in the end. Make sure to stay in front of your canvas, your computer, your keyboard, until you create something. Do not leave until you have something or you have fulfilled your time for the day. Never give up. Be strong.
FIND SUPPORT IN UNLIKELY PLACES
Positive energy attracts positive people who will ultimately support your ideas. And if they support your ideas — make sure you support theirs. Building a community of people who help you through the walls of creative block and give real, constructive feedback will only strengthen your commitment to your ideas. As you begin to execute part of the process your community of supporters will inspire you to continue.
I will caution you with this: The people who convince us not to chase a dream are typically family members or those who know you the best. They are trying to save you from risk and harm. This is a noble human character attribute but ultimately it is not good for your process. If you find yourself being convinced by those you love the most that your ideas are not achievable” or they bring up risk scenarios, I recommend finding peers who are in similar situations with similar aspirations and developing your community with them.
If you willing to make sacrifices, select and focus on one singular goal, develop a “working habit” through strength and commitment, then build a support system, there really is nothing that can stop you.
Remember, everyone has ideas, it’s just that most people will never execute them. The difference between you and those you admire is very, very little. We are all human. We all have the same amount of time in our day — it's just how we use it that matters.