Best Laid Plans
When it comes to any project planning, recognizing your limitations is key to accomplishing realistic expectations. We all have pie in the sky ideas for what our incredibly amazing, life/world changing project is going to be and all the phenomenal success we will have as a result. None of this will come to pass unless you give some real thought to the actual time it will take to accomplish the project goals, the team you will need to make it all happen in a seamless way with all the tools right at your fingertips. In an ideal world, everything flows and blends together. The Red Sea parts and the world is your oyster.
This. Is. Not. That.
Our pie in the sky vision is exactly that without hardcore tough love decision making. I’ve been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal my whole life. And for the most part, it has worked out pretty well so far. There were big opportunities I missed out on because long-term planning wasn’t “my thing”. Sure, it’s easy to dream. It’s easy to set your sites on a goal. How to get there? You can probably eyeball that, too. How to get there exactly as your ideal vision has pictured? Well, that’s a horse of an entirely different color….or type.
The Cold Hard Truth
When it comes to actually seeing your vision become reality you’re going to have to face some cold, hard truths. Your ideal plan is not going to happen with a team of one. You will need a team in order to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and expertise. Or even to just do the tasking that is required, but perhaps does not require your specific time and talents to accomplish. Hire outside of yourself. On a shoestring budget? Consider a trade of in-kind services. We all have special skills that are valuable to someone else and vice versa. Still not able to find someone? Then consider hiring small. In a perfect world, you would have the financial ability to hire your ideal person full time. What about for just a few hours per week or month? Get that ideal person at the front gate. Let them get to know you and your business. By the time you are ready to bring them to full-time they will already know the ins and outs of your business. They’ll be ready to dive into the deeper aspects of your projects.
Not ready to bring anyone else on board? Is a team of one your motto and words you live by? Then it’s time to get out the red pen to your project. What can you do realistically each and every day? Be tough and honest with yourself. Pare down your project down to its very basics. We’re talking the framework of a car without all the bells and whistles. A plain, standard model to get you from point a to point b. Does it have an engine and wheels that work? Then that is all you need to get started.
It’s easy to get discouraged at this stage. You know the ideal way you want this idea to come to fruition. Taking the Ferrari in your mind down to the Ford Truck is hard. Here’s what I want you to remember, getting started is more important than holding on to the ideal version of your project and not getting started at all. Keep those little pared down darlings close by. As your project continues to develop there may be opportunities for them to be brought back into the plan. Some of them will make a comeback and others will not. Timing and the growth of your project will indicate when if their time has come. Some never will. Others will turn into Phase 2, 3, or 4 additions.
The Lessons Learned…….The Hard Way
I share these tips with you because of my own epic pie-in-the-sky planning failure(s). Most recently, I planned a repeat of something I did a few years back: Three different daily podcasts for National Podcast Post Month in November aka NaPodPoMo (30 podcasts in 30 days).
I was able to accomplish this originally in 2015. I recorded three shows a day for a total of 90 shows in the month of November. When I tried to reattempt this in 2017 as part of the 10 year anniversary of National Podcast Post Month, I failed miserably. Why? I set unrealistic expectations on the time I had available, the team who would help me accomplish this goal (me) and the tools I would use to make it all happen (1 live show and 2 shows prerecorded with post-production edits).
So, why was it I was able to accomplish this so easily in 2015 and yet stumble through the entire month in 2017? It all comes down to Time, Team & Tools.
Back in 2015, I was just coming back into the world after a health scare with my youngest son. NaPodPoMo was what I needed to get out of the medical brain fog that had been the previous months of my life. Plus, in 2015 all three shows were done live. Recording time was all I needed which made keeping the three times daily podcast sessions easy to keep up with. Due to months of being out of the loop, my workload was almost non-existent. I was just in the process of on-boarding a repeat client. Which meant my attention wasn’t split in too many directions. I had a simple calendar and it was easy to keep track of everything.
Fast-forward to 2017 and I had several client projects, am teaching courses each month to students while also taking a few courses myself. Out of the three podcasts, I scheduled for NaPodPoMo, only one was live. That single podcast is the only one which accomplished the goal of 30 podcasts in 30 days. When push comes to shove things fell into the cracks. I was so in love with the idea of doing three shows for the 10 year anniversary, I refused to see that the reality was there was never going to be an opportunity at success given that I did not plan for any deviation to my vision. I also did not bring in support to help with the prerecorded shows. This was the fatal flaw to my perfectly laid out plan. I should have known that I would become the bottleneck to success. Yet, I persisted with the idea that I could do it all.
You would think I would have gotten wiser by this experience……I have and I haven’t. I had a 2018 planning session with my business coach to lay out the course of my business. I narrowed my focus down to three main pieces, which is quite a feat considering how much Shiny Object Syndrome plays out in my life. I had pushed back one of “my darlings” to later in the year instead of creating a big bang launch in January. This made complete sense in the overall planning. Yet, I realize I still need to thin the herd a bit. In order to be successful at some, I will sacrifice others. These are sound decisions. They make black and white sense. Here’s the rub, the things I am sacrificing are my own personal growth and pet business projects.
As a mother, this is nothing new. You always sacrifice what you might need or want for the greater good of your family. It’s just what you do. We can always wait until later when it’s a better time…..or……
The logical part of myself says, “Grow up, there will always be time to get these things done later. Take care of these other things because it will help you in the long run.” <-This grown up is not wrong. Yet, I can look back and see the many times I was on the precipice of something truly amazing and the reality of life forced me to reconsider the bigger picture. Some things absolutely needed me to stop, drop, and roll for something or someone who had needs greater than my own. But not all. There were several I have a very strong feeling would have changed the whole direction of my life. There is a definite feeling of “Rinse and Repeat” present. A deja vu of opportunities slipping away…..again.
This is not a tale of doom and gloom. Not by a long shot. My life is my own. I work with clients I like on projects I enjoy and on a mission I believe in. My motto which can be found on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn et al.. is “Living the Dream” and I am no matter what you’ve read above. Just because I am living a life of my choice doesn’t mean I’m still not challenged. I’m still growing and learning and yes, also still compromising along the way.
The silver lining is that I am in charge of this speedboat. Sometimes my plans will have to be docked or perhaps I trade in that speedboat for a leisurely ride on a pleasure cruiser or ocean liner. Slow to maneuver, but they will eventually get to their destination.
At the end of the day when I look at 2018 or any year for that matter, I see an ocean of possibilities which are ripe with opportunity. It’s up to me to chart my course in whatever mode of transport fits the situation to see success in all its forms as they manifest themselves on the journey.