When I moved to Portland a year ago, I had this grand idea that I would create a space where multipotentialites could live and play together. It would be a physical space, sort of the real world version of the Puttytribe. And it would be awesome.
However, upon moving here, I realized very quickly that pursuing this goal right away would be impossible. I didn’t know the neighbourhoods, or have the ideal housemates picked out. Most of all though, I didn’t have the funds. Would I rent? Buy? What would these creative collaborations look like? How could I make all of this happen when I wasn’t even fully financially independent yet?… Pursuing this goal at the time was simply impractical. (And that’s not a word I throw around lightly– or at all).
“Impractical” is Normally the Language of Naysayers
Usually when someone tells you that your dream is “impractical,” they mean it in the bigger sense: It’s impracticable, period. Let it go, move on to something more realistic. Or they use language like “someday,” which we all know usually means never.
Bleh. These people are Naysayers. You have no time for such folk in your life.
No, what I’m talking about here isn’t giving up on your massive dream (which is 100% achievable by the way. People with fewer resources than you have created some absolutely wacky things in this world!), or even putting it on hold. Just the contrary. You want to be working steadily towards your goal, but you want to do that by breaking your goal up into smaller projects and tackling those individually.
You may not be able to host your own cooking show on the Food Network right this very second or get a publishing deal for the novel you want to write. Not right now anyway. But there’s a lot you can do in preparation. In fact, there’s a lot that you must do in preparation if you ever want to be ready.
Getting the Building Blocks in Place
You may need to acquire certain skills, resources, and/or develop some key relationships before being able to tackle your ultimate goal.
Of course, you may not even know what you need to know. But that’s okay. I bet there are a few clues– enough clues to get started on a couple smaller project anyway.
Where to Start?
1. Make a List
Make a list of all the skills, experiences, and relationships that you think you might need. Do this brain-dump style. Get everything out of your head.
Feeling nice and overwhelmed? That’s normal. Now lets narrow it down, because I promise you, most of the stuff on your list isn’t nearly as important as you think.
2. Whittle it Down to the Essentials
Go through that list again and star the items that you know you will need to pursue your project. For instance, if you want to host your own cooking show, then taking a cooking class or going to culinary school might be an important experience, as opposed to say, learning how to network. (That might be important too, but we’re prioritizing here.)
Another important skill for your goal might be getting comfortable on camera. You might not have a show on network television yet, but could you start your own blog and create short videos about your concoctions?
Take your starred items and create a new list. Write this list on a new page in your notebook or if you’re doing this digitally, create a fresh document and close the old one. You want to make sure that you can’t see the old, overwhelm-inducing list.
3. If these Projects are still too “impractical for now”, then break them down even further
Can’t afford culinary school? How about acquiring some culinary chops (boo) through blogs and YouTube tutorials while you save up? Or maybe you could skip the formal education altogether. It depends on whether that particular experience is important to you or not (either way, it’s cool).
Narrow down your list until you’ve got projects that you could actually start now.
The Best Way to Choose: The Fun Test
When multipotentialites ask me which projects they should pursue, I usually impart advice that’s, granted, a little cheesy, but it’s advice that has served me well. I suggest that they listen to their hearts.
It’s so easy to feel like you should take the safer or more profitable route, but I generally believe that if you’re yearning to do something, there’s a reason. Ask yourself which project sounds like the most fun, and start there.
You can pursue more than one of these smaller projects at once. I would keep the number of priority projects down to five though, and dabble in the others during your Scanning Time.
And of course, the truth is that it doesn’t really matter which project you begin with, so try not to lose too much sleep over the decision. There’s plenty of time to do it all.
Over-Preparation Can Kill Your Project Too
Now for an annoying caveat…
You will never feel ready to pursue that massive project.
I certainly didn’t feel fully ready to launch the Puttytribe (Don’t you need an enormous subscriber base to launch a membership site? That’s what they tell you anyway…) It took me weeks before I was brave enough to even set a launch date. And despite all of the research, I was certainly not prepared for everything that puppyhood entails! But I’m not sure I ever could have been.
Sometimes the only way to learn, is to stumble along in the dark, fail a few times, and then take smarter action as you move forward. We learn a great deal more from our failures than our successes anyway.
Perfection is the Enemy of Done.
When it comes to preparation, there will always be more that you can learn. It’s easy to over-prepare and put off taking action out of fear. “I’m not ready” is an excellent rationalization, isn’t it? It makes so much “logical” sense to wait… At a certain point, you just need to jump or it’ll never happen.
I try to live by the following rule: learn only as much as you need to learn to get started, and then start.
How do you approach those massive, scary, overwhelming projects? Do you break they down into smaller projects?