June 25, 2019
As a full grown adult, nothing can feel quite as vulnerable as acknowledging your dreams. Nothing can fulfill you more, and, ironically, nothing can scare you more.
For most of us, our dreams have been tucked away for a very long time.
For some of us, we might even say our dreams are long-forgotten.
But just because something has been covered up doesn't mean it deserves to be hidden — we simply haven’t found a way to bring it to the light yet!
It’s a disheartening fact that 70% of Americans hate their jobs. That statistic shows what settling looks like. When you outgrow dreaming, you outgrow valuing that part of you that is invaluable: your individuality.
Anytime we suppress a part of ourselves, we become miserable.
What’s more, anytime you feel as though you have to hide a part of yourself from someone, you begin to lose trust in that person.
Dear Maker, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you on this journey is to trust yourself enough to acknowledge who you are as a creative individual, and don’t hide it.
HOW DOES YOUR DREAM FIT INTO YOUR LIFE NOW?
Dreaming as an adult means dreaming on a practical level, as much as it does on a visionary level. As children, our dreams consisted of big picture successes piggy-backed on the most prodigious adventures our mind could conjure. The sky was the limit, and the details of how to get there—pshhhhh! What details?!
As an adult, however, when you dream of your future, your plans automatically consist of the big questions:
“HOW WILL I EVER GET THERE?”
“HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?”
“WHAT IF I FAIL?”
Start-up expenses, budget planning, market share, continuing education, and training all have to be considered when you think about one day achieving your dream. But for now, you are still dreaming… and you allow the thoughts of how you’ll get there distract you from actually trying.
Acknowledging your dream is one thing, but valuing it so that you don’t find yourself burying it again is an entirely different level in your entrepreneurial growth.
Think of it this way: When you realize your dream is not only a part of who you are, but who you have always been, you’ll be convinced that this part of your individuality is not just inescapable, it’s more than likely one of the key factors that make you, YOU!
But how do you get there, and what do you need to work on so that you can commit to realizing that dream you’ve held inside?
HOW TO RECONNECT WITH YOUR DREAM (AND YOURSELF)
Close your eyes and ask yourself these questions:
1) What fulfilled you more than anything when you were a child?
2) What are your fondest, most fulfilled memories as an adolescent?
3) What are you doing when you are happiest as an adult?
4) What work has fulfilled you more than any other?
You see, dear Maker, you are still that same person. You have always held the same arena of passions and talents. Over the years, they have just grown up and taken on new forms as you’ve matured.
THIS STAGE OF YOUR JOURNEY IS ABOUT GOING BACK TO YOUR FIRST LOVE.
You were born with everything you need to be fulfilled as an adult because you were made to be the person you have always been. Nothing fulfills us like working in our passions: unhidden, uncompromised, and ever-evolving.
June 11, 2019
At times, thinking too far ahead can feel like a waste of time. After all, we’ve seen that our lives have taken so many unexpected turns over the years (for better and for worse), so it can feel like sticking to a strict plan for the future seems impossible.
But, dear Maker, I’m here to say that long-term planning for your creative business isn’t actually about controlling your future, but rather being prepared for the days ahead. Much like planting and harvesting, the preparation you sow now provides for your future. The end result is never about controlling the outcome, but rather taking pride and satisfaction in every seed you plant, grow, and harvest. But like any good farmer knows, you have to plan your plantings so you can reap the best harvest.
KNOW WHERE YOU ARE SO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING
In Navigating Change, Gary Gore shares a valuable lesson with his readers:
“In navigating through the forest, it is fundamental to know our location before we set out in any direction. If we do not know our location, we should stay in the same general area until we know where we are. To venture out only leads to confusion, and it makes any action plan we may have developed worthless or needlessly risky, compounding the problem. Our location is who and where we are.”
The premise of your long-term plan is to flesh out the path that takes your dream from the starting point to the finish line. In your creative business, this is your tactical and operational plan, interlaced with interim goals to create a landing block.
When you start with a vision for your future, you can begin to nail down the tangible achievements your dreams are meant to be made of. First, spell out your goals and objectives within your big dream. Next, assess what roadblocks are already in place and which ones you project to come.
Most entrepreneurs find that education or training is often their number one roadblock, right before funding. What are your solutions or alternatives to these hurdles? There will always be one or the other, dear Maker. If you can’t overcome it, can you jump over it? By assessing your market, assets, opportunities, and competition you can devise a plan of action through or around these.
A PLAN WITHOUT ACTION ISN’T A PLAN
Once your plan is in place, it’s ready to be met with action. As you continue to flesh out your plan, an operation will develop. As you monitor your progress and extinguish weak links, your policies will develop. Unsinkable businesses implement defense strategies they have devised in the face of the sneaky but expected roadblocks and written them into company policies.
Devise and implement a long-term business plan that focuses on three things: Prioritization, delegation, and execution. Without first knowing the end to the plan, you can’t begin. What looks good on paper may be too unrealistic once real life takes hold. That is where the beauty of these last few steps really begins to shine. Life is lived by first and foremost prioritizing the tasks laid out in front of you. Take on what only you can do first. After that, assess where you need to bring on help. No journey was ever meant to be conquered alone. Even Olympic gold medalists attribute much of their success to their coaches.
In A Maker’s Guide, I gave an example of what my long-term planning looks like. I prefer to break my goals down into 4 segments:
- Short-term (3 weeks to 3 months)
- Medium-term (3 months to 1 year)
- Long-term (1-5years)
- Lifelong (No limitations).
The common thread throughout all of my planning is that it begins with a goal. The goal is then held together by my plan to overcome costs and roadblocks, and ends with a very specific completion date. These threads keep my feet moving towards the finish line no matter the terrain.
What you do every day makes all the difference for the big picture. Chipping away and being consistent with your mission ensures your long-term success. When dreamers begin to do, they become world-changers. The seeds you sow today will bear great fruit — and therefore purpose — in your future. You can do this!
Until next time.
May 21, 2019
For creative types, hearing the words “discipline” or “structure” can make you hesitant. After all, many artistic personalities thrive in uncontrolled environments, right?
You may do some of your best creative DIY and crafting work when the mood strikes, but staying true to yourself doesn’t mean you should totally disregard organization, either. A daily agenda is a powerful tool you can use to build your creative business beyond your wildest expectations.
Here’s how to craft a daily agenda that will help you meet your goals as a Maker — and still be respectful of your creative process.
WRITE A TO-DO LIST FIRST
To create an actionable daily agenda, first, write down everything you need to accomplish for the day. Anything business-related, personal errands, big tasks, and small tasks. Once you’ve written everything down you’ll notice that your responsibilities typically fall into three categories: people, places, and priorities. Then, determine which tasks are the most important or demanding. Which ones absolutely must get done? Which will take total focus and concentration?
ASSIGN TASKS TO TIME SLOTS
You’ll then start assigning tasks to time slots. Before you start choosing tasks, be sure to start your day with a little personal time. Take fifteen minutes, half an hour, or an hour to spend time on your well-being. During this time you may choose to meditate, read, pray, journal, or exercise. Or perhaps your personal time is spent cooking a nutritious breakfast and eating it mindfully with a cup of coffee. Whatever you choose to do during your alone time, you’ll be able to tackle the rest of your day with energy and a clear mind.
Now that you have your personal time on your agenda, you can start adding tasks. Begin with your most demanding or high-priority tasks first. Studies have shown that our brain function peaks in those first hours after waking, so it’s best to get those tasks done early in the day. If you have meetings scheduled for specific hour blocks, add those in next. Then, place your more flexible tasks in spots where they make the most sense.
TWEAK YOUR DAILY AGENDA IF NEEDED
Once you have your day planned out, look it over again. Are there tasks that would fit better on a different day’s agenda? Move it to that day instead! Are you afraid you haven’t blocked out enough time for a bigger task? Shuffle things around to give yourself more time. Know your limits and accept your habits. If you know you start feeling drained around 2 to 3 pm, schedule easier tasks for that period. Pencil in a short break so you can go for a walk to re-energize. Never be afraid to be choosy with your agenda.
And of course, schedule some downtime and playtime for yourself when you need it. When you’ve already allotted time to tackle your big important tasks, you won’t feel guilty spending a little time playing creatively or relaxing. Everything is accounted for.
If you aren’t consciously choosing your steps, your steps are choosing for you. Living life without structure seems fun, but it can grow into aimlessness and boredom quickly. A daily agenda can help you live with intention, spend your time efficiently, and meet your goals. With a little discipline and self-awareness, not one hour of your day is wasted.
XO, Amy Howard