Sunday, February 1, 2009

Going for It! So what are your dreams? A View from Impact Factory Jo Ellen Grzyb

What’s holding you back?
I might fail (public humiliation)
I might succeed (other people’s high expectations)
It’s too difficult at my age.
I’ll never find the time.
People will think I’m ‘too big for my boots’.
I don’t know how to begin.
Who am I? There are other people far more qualified.
I don’t have enough self-confidence
It’s all right to be frightened.
Fear, concern, anxiety are natural feelings so don’t expect to be entering a new venture without some pretty intense emotions. You have to decide whether you’re going to give them more room in your head than the excitement, anticipation and joy that are equally present. If you listen too much to the anxious feelings, they’ll tell you to stop before you begin. Get an image in your head of you at your most successful and let her have more room than the ‘little’ you that will keep you small if you let her. Draw a self-portrait of your successful self. Start a scrapbook and put her on page one. One of my scrapbooks is filled with cartoons, my own drawings (really bad ones I might add!), poetry (mine and others), clippings from magazines and newspapers, anything that helped me define my dream.
Identify the skills you already have.
Being a homemaker requires courage, tenacity, planning, determination and flexibility. All those qualities are also required for any new venture. For one month keep a journal in your scrapbook of everything you do in your daily life and the qualities and skills you use to do them. Then imagine yourself in your new activity and list the skills you’ll need, marking a tick next to the ones you already have. In some cases you may need retraining (studying to be a counsellor, for instance), but in most cases I have found that people already have the skills and qualities they’ll need for a new vocation.
Get a support structure in place before you begin.
Two is a support group. Get more if you can and schedule regular weekly meetings. They need only last an hour. Part of their purpose is to help keep you on track. At the beginning tell your support group your long-term aspirations and at least one short-term goal per week. Other people’s jobs are to encourage, brainstorm new ideas and tell you you are wonderful. This is no joke. When the going gets difficult, you
need to have people on your side whatever happens. A few good words from someone you trust can brighten anyone’s day. Make sure you do not include anyone who will tell you why your ideas won’t work. It’s fine to have someone point out some of the pitfalls, but you do not need negativity – it just feeds the little you.
Dream with your feet on the ground.
Be realistic. You may dream of being a ballet dancer at 45, but it’s mighty unlikely to happen. However, you could get involved in set design, costume-making or any number of related areas. One of the problems that people with impossible dreams encounter is that they make them so big, that not only is it unlikely they’ll be able to achieve them, it is equally likely that they will be the best excuse never to begin. I’m a great believer in impossible dreams (I have them myself!), but make sure they can be broken down into ‘bite-size’ chunks, so that you can see a beginning, middle and end to each chunk. If my dream is to be a Booker prize winner I can stay in my head autographing first editions and never start the first page. Or I can keep a journal every day, send a short piece into the parish newsletter and write letters to the editor of my favourite magazine as a way of practising my skills as a writer.
Start networking. You know more people than you think.
Go through your address book and see if there’s anyone amongst your current friends, relatives and acquaintances who knows something about the area you are interested in. Don’t think in terms of what they can do, rather what or who they know. Identify who’s already doing what you want to do and ask to pick their brains. It may seem quite a bold thing to ask but, in my experience, people are usually quite generous about telling others what they know (good for their ego too) and will give not only useful pointers but will alert you of pitfalls as well.
Learn to sell yourself.
If you don’t think you have something to offer, why should anyone else? You don’t have to wave a banner to sell yourself, but self-deprecation won’t do it either. An exercise to do with your support group is to imagine yourself as a product. What’s special about you the product? Why would someone want to ‘buy’ this product? Who are your ‘customers’? How will you reach them? Odd questions to ask yourself, but they will put a new slant on looking at yourself more objectively. Then you need to create a Marketing Plan to launch this new product onto the world.
Create your Marketing Plan: back to the future.
I know this sounds obvious, but the number of people I’ve met who have huge dreams and no plans astonishes me. The best way to make a plan that I know is to start with your end point and work backwards. Begin with your goal and think of what would have happened just before you reached it, then what would have happened just before that, and so on till you reach the present day. Draw a graph of what needs to happen when and be clear about the milestones – those key elements that must be in place for your plan to work well. Put people’s names next to the milestones. And most important of all, make sure you create a budget so you know what resources you’ll have to call upon at each stage.
A plan should make you feel supported, secure and freed up. If it feels like a burden, you’ve got the wrong plan.

No comments:

Post a Comment